We had one pig this year that just stopped growing at about 60 pounds. The only upside to that situation is that it provided us a pig we could practice slaughtering and butchering right here at home with less on the line if we fucked up.
Our friend Cameron came over to help out. I was the Dylan-wrangler and the photographer, while Cameron and Joshua did all the dirty work.
I’m putting the rest of this post behind a cut. A detailed photographic record of the process follows along with comments from Joshua. This isn’t a “how to slaughter a pig” by any means, but if you are interested in this process there’s enough to here to give you a good idea of what’s involved.
The first step is to shoot the pig in the forehead with a .22. This “stuns” the pig. The heart will keep beating for a while, but the pig is no longer present for the really painful stuff.
This is the actual moment when the pig was shot. Issa’s timing is impeccable.
Cameron took the “honor” of sticking the pig.
A deep insertion into the neck, followed by a cutting-out motion…
… leaves a gaping wound from which blood gushes freely. Although the pig continues to twitch for a few minutes, the .22 to the brain has assured that it is not aware of any of this. Some people prefer to stick the pig without stunning it first, for a more thorough bleed-out, but we prefer not to stress the pig before slaughter.
Carrying the now-limp pig to the site where we will complete the slaughter.
We prop the pig on its back with chunks of wood.
Skinning the hams.
After opening up the skin on the back legs, a cut is made from the sternum, down the mid-line of the body.
Further skinning of the hams.
To complete the skinning, the pig is hung from a conveniently-located tractor.
With two knives working, it was necessary to be careful of each other’s space. Cameron said, “I keep moving because your knife-tip keeps getting uncomfortably close to me.” I said, “That’s funny. I keep moving because your knife-tip keeps getting uncomfortably close to me!”
Dylan wanted to investigate the activity, but was prevented from doing so. A small tantrum resulted.
He wanted to see what we were doing so bad.
The head was removed with a hatchet. We had a bone saw, but its blade broke. Twice. In this photo, the front feet have also been removed.
Opening the abdominal cavity for evisceration.
This is the bladder.
This is the large intestine.
The small intestine and stomach are visible here.
The large gray sac in the upper-right of this photo is the cecum. It is at the very beginning of the large intestine, where it connects to the small intestine. The cecum is used as a fermentation vessle, similar to the rumen in ruminants, to more thoroughly digest plant matter.
Removing the lungs and heart.
Lungs and heart, for your perusal.
Splitting the pelvis.
Fishing out the last pieces of the colon, uterus, and other stragglers.
Splitting the carcass into sides.
The goal is to cut right down the mid-line of the spine, which you can see here. In the days before sawzalls, this was accomlished with an axe and a mallet. The axe was placed against the spine and hammered through with the mallet.
The uterus, which had not yet been removed, was the only thing holding the sides together.
A final rinse.
Transporting the sides in to chill before further sectioning. We dropped them in our chest freezer (which was not running) and poured a bunch of ice over them. The chest freezer will simply act as a big cooler. Total time from shot to cooler was about 2 hours.