Friday, February 10, 2012

This pig went to market...

I was talking to another local pig farmer about the way to get pigs to market.  This is a summary of how it is done here.   This is talking about the business of getting animals to your table. 

Custom Slaughter
I would use this if I knew the farmer and liked their practices
The legal way for a small farmer to sell an animal to someone to eat is to first sell the customer the live animal.  The customer then contracts with a licensed farm kill / custom slaughter operator, who comes to the farm, kills the animal, guts and skins it, splits it in half and transports it to the cut-and-wrap shop for final processing. 

The customer then goes to the meat shop and picks up their packaged meat. 

What really happens is that you tell me you'd like a whole or half pig, and I make all the arrangements.  All you need do is tell the meat shop how you'd like your meat cut and packaged (how many chops per package, how thick the chops, what kind of sausage, etc) and pick up the meat when it's ready -- usually 2 weeks after date of slaughter. 

This option is usually easiest for the farmer and for the animal.  It's killed where it lived, and doesn't have any transport stress. 

USDA Slaughter
I would use this if I did not know the farmer

USDA slaughter means that the animal was slaughtered in a facility that is operated under USDA inspection.  There's a government inspector there watching the slaughter process and inspecting the meat.  I would choose this option for a farmer that I didn't know because that USDA inspector is a (hopefully) impartial third-party.  If they see something they don't like, they condemn the carcass or some portion of it, so the consumer has less risk of some meat problem getting into their freezer.

This option is not very easy for the farmer or animal.  Here I have to truck the animal 2 hours north or 2 hours south on day 1, and the cuts are picked up from that same facility on a second trip.  For me that means I kill 2 full work days transporting the animals.  BUT

If I have the animals slaughtered USDA I can sell them across state lines, use them in prepared meals/cooked foods that I produce (subject to health department regulations) and sell them to catering companies or restaurants, and I can sell individual cuts (like a package of pork chops, vs the whole or half pig). 

USDA Slaughter - Mobile trailer
This is an interesting option that combines the USDA slaughter with a farm visit.  I've not used one of these guys, but I'm considering it for my next pig slaughter date. 

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