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Homekill butchering

The other week we had a butcher come out to Eight Acres to kill Bratwurst the Limousine-Fresian cross steer.   We had to use a different butcher because our last one had sold up and gone to work in the mines!  Fortunately we found another good one, he was punctual, clean, hard-working and friendly.  Last time I wrote some tips about preparing for a homekill, this is just a few notes that I thought of this time.

Pete had the Tuesday off work for day one of the butchering.  The butcher turned up around midday and Pete had Brat ready in a separate paddock so that the butcher could shoot the steer and then work on skinning, quartering and then hanging him in the mobile cool room.  I left the camera for him, but in the rush he forgot to take photos, the butcher uses a giant tripod to lift up the carcass, which is really quite clever, so I'm sorry I can't show it to you.  Maybe next time!

The butcher at work in our car port
more butchering
On the Thursday we both had the day off work and the butcher arrived back around 7am to begin the work of butchering.  The butcher set up in our carport next to the house, with access to water and electricity.  Pete stayed outside to help and observe the process, while I was inside bagging up the meat.

I had a bit more of a system this time, being our 4th beast, I've finally worked it out!  The butcher cuts up one quarter at a time, so I used freezer bags for all the cuts off one front and one back quarter, and then vacuum bags for the other front and back quarter, this way its about half half in freezer bags and half in vacuum bags (which of course make the meat last a big longer).  I had Pete write the labels, which sped things up, and he came in and helped when there was a glut of meat to bag.  We sealed all the good cuts (rib fillet and eye fillet) in vacuum bags and "wet aged" them in the fridge for over a week, as we had such a short hanging time.

freezer bagging some of the meat

vacuum sealing some of the meat

This time I asked the butcher to keep the liver and kidney, he sliced them up and we have small bags of the slices in the freezer.  The organ meats are supposed to be really healthy (see my posts on nourishing traditions), but I haven't worked out what to do with them yet!  I also asked the butcher to keep the big chunks of fat for me so I can render tallow.  All the bones were cut up to dog size as well, we have a separate freezer full of bones!  And we spread out the skin in the shed on the Tuesday and covered in salt, we will tan the hide (as we have done before) in a few months.  It doesn't smell at all if you put enough salt on it (and it seems to work better the longer you leave it like that).

We have already tried the Y-bone, T-bone and tenderised BBQ steaks, mince and a rolled roast, all have been very nice.  Not as tough as Murray, not as tasty as Trevor, but very nice beef.  We are looking forward to eating the rest of the 240 kg in our freezer!


  1. Great post Liz. We are in the process of organising to have our first beast killed in the next month so I will be studying all yours posts on the topic and will then let you know if I have any questions. The first thing we have to do is find a replacement as we do not want to leave our other 1 cow on it's own.

  2. I'd not heard of 'wet aging' I will ask the butcher son about that. We do our own here too but they hang for up to 2 weeks. If husband gets the vacuum sealer he wants we may not have to do that...but I'd need a bigger fridge!


  3. Hi Liz! Do you find the home-grown meat tastes different to shop-bought? We had our first home kill done in late May and we've hardly eaten any of it - we don't like it!! The latest stuff we've taken out of the freezer has tasted better, so we thought it might be that we just weren't used to fresh meat? The carcass hung for 3 days, and I froze everything as it was cut (except the corned beef and sausages). Interested to hear your thoughts!

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post, I found it fasinating that you have a traveling butcher with a truck with a cooling room. I don't know if there is someone doing that in Iowa where my farm is, but it would be a good idea. I have heard of a chicken trailor that does processing like that, but never beef. Most have to take their cow to a meat locker to have their meat processed.

  5. I put the liver in my food processor and then add it to burgers, meatballs, and get the idea. Kids won't eat meatballs anymore unless their is liver in them, lol.

  6. Fiona, you are right, you need to always have more than one in your herd or they try to find a friend (on the other side of your fence), try or your local sale yards (toogoolawa?).

    Barb, wet aging seems to work for us, although there is much debate online over whether its worth doing. Two weeks is an excellent hanging time! But if that's costing you each time, a decent vacuum sealer (go for italian made if you can, not chinese) is about $300, so it may be worth the investment.

    ~8~, our first steer was really tasty, think he was a low-line jersey cross. Since then they haven't been as nice, but just as good if not better than anything in the shop (although I suppose it is a different taste, we just got used to it). We did have one really tough animal and had to get a slow cooker to get through his meat. Maybe you can just make lots of casseroles etc so you cover the taste, and don't waste the meat!!

    Milligan, I'd be interested to know if you can do the same where you are or if its just an aussie thing. Its definitely a good service, you know that the animal didn't suffer and you get all your meat back.

    Megan, thanks for the tip, will try that :)

  7. We hang ours for 10 makes it more tender. Also the time of year plays a part in how it will taste, a spring beast is very different to a Winter beast. Also if the animal was a 'tense animal' and never calm it will tend to have tougher meat.
    Your 'very real' posts are wonderful . I have to admit when the butcher comes to the farm, I hide until it is over ...I really have to get over that.

  8. I really like reading your blog. It's like being "back home".
    Before grinding up the tallow, may I suggest that you cover the counter and floor with a sheet of plastic or tarp then sheets of newspaper. Sure keeps a lot of mess down!
    Thank you for "taking me back home"!
    Polly, Tennessee, USA


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