Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Skinning practice

Andrea is skinning her first pig.  We had to put a sow down, and skinning an animal properly takes some practice, so she's in the center of the picture practicing.  The sow is hanging from the front bucket of the blue tractor. 

Andrea is a real trooper about farm life. 
Click on the picture for a larger version

Pig skin, unlike sheep or cow, sticks to the fat and is pretty hard to remove.  When you skin a pig you want to leave as much of the fat on the carcass as possible.  So the basic things are:  Have a very sharp knife, and retouch it with a steel from time to time.  Take your time and make sure that every cut is as close to the skin as possible.  Take particular care around the belly, because that fat is your bacon, and a poor skinning job will waste too much. 


Ron said...

Wow, those are big beams. Good thing you didn't buy them suckers new!

We've skinned a couple of times. The first set of pigs was mostly a hack job, of course. For the 2nd set, I cut strips and pulled them off with a vice grip. That worked better but still hard on the hands and arms.

Now I'm seriously thinking about finding a good solid tree to anchor to and pulling the whole skin off with the tractor. That should be interesting. I hope to find others who have done that before then. :)

Or maybe I'll settle for cutting wider strips and letting a winch do the pulling... that would still be a heck of a lot easier.


Anonymous said...

How do you keep the meat clean and sanitary? It looks like the whole area is pretty wet and muddy. Do you have to rinse it once you are ready to cut it into more manageable sections?

Bruce King said...

The pig is suspended over a concrete slab. You start the skinning on the ground, lift it with the tractor and keep it off the ground for the remainder. Once the carcass is split and hanging we lay it on a butcher block table to break it down further.

You can see many examples of the process in this blog. Search for "slaughter" or "farm kill"

Bruce King said...

Ron: The process that we've found that works pretty well is to turn the animal on its back. Cut an X shape, down the inside of each leg, and then a line down the center of the animal. Skin the legs and belly, continuing until the hid is attached at the back of the pig.

Then we hoist it head-down with the tractor and pull the hide off the back by hand. To make that easier I'll cut a handhold near the tail and pull using that.

Once the hide is free down to the neck we skin the head and that part is done.

I've found its easier to skin the animal starting on th ground. When its hanging it's swinging around.

Ron said...

Interesting, thanks. I've seen one guy that used a front end loader to mostly pull the whole hide off... I think he used a rock rolled in the hide to attach to. He didn't have more than one picture, though... so it was hard to gauge whether it would be easier or harder...

Splitting the sternum is definitely way easier with it on its back, having done it both ways.