Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Meat with a name - Doug & Buddy


The following pictures are graphic, and a detailed record of how our two steers were turned from livestock into meat. If you keep reading, you will see blood and dead cows, and also learn where meat should come from (not factory farms).
Disclaimer: Anyone who prefers to eat meat 'without a name' should get to know the millions of nameless animals who are tortured and killed for the sole purpose of providing this country with abnormally cheap meat. Read this article and please go the extra mile to make sure you do eat meat with a face and a name.

Here's the processing truck from Keizer Meats in Lynden, WA. They had slaughtered 2 steers before our turn, as you can see already hanging inside. The truck is equipped with its own running water and a generator to run the meat saw.

We don't have pictures of Doug (Douglas Fir of Seven Trees) and Buddy (RdoubleD Acres Buddy) actually being shot. To get a good clean kill, the fewer distractions the better. The boys were offered one last pan of grain and an apple, and both went down immediately thanks to the skill of the guys from Keizer. Below is Doug. He was shot in the forehead from a few feet away, and in this picture already has his throat cut.

And Buddy, also with his throat cut.

Buddy was more wild in life, and also in death. I'm sure everyone knows that chickens can flap around quite a bit after having their heads cut off. Well, cattle are no different. It took Buddy rather a long time to let go of this world, and for safety's sake we gave him a lot of room until he was done.
The steers were each rolled onto their backs and chocked into place like you do with a trailer or car you want to prevent from rolling.
Here are both steers partially dressed out. We found out it would cost nearly $500 to have Doug's hide tanned, so sadly we had to skip it. The knacker is taking Buddy's insides out in this picture, and Doug is to the right.
At this point, Buddy is nearly turned into quarters of beef, ready to go into the truck.
This is Doug. You can see how well he ate by all the abdominal fat hanging inside. At the very bottom left are his intestines, and to the right his lungs.
The Keizer employees did a wonderful job, from kill to quartering two steers in only 2 hours. Here is Doug being split into halves with a saw.
They hoist the halves up high enough so that the front quarters are able to be put on hooks hanging from the inside of the truck ceiling, then cut the front from the back quarters.
And here are Doug and Buddy, ready to head to Keizer Meats for 14-day ageing, then custom cut & wrapped for us to bring home.
This has been an incredible experience, not just today, but from the very beginning with bringing Stella (Doug's mom) home as a heifer calf back in November 2006. We will definitely do this again, but probably not with a steer that we bred, birthed and raised all on Seven Trees ground.

This is a clip of Buddy (already well-dead) being dragged across the barnyard to the gambrel hoist.


Casandra said...

I grew up on a small beef farm and can honestly say I have never witnessed this process being completed off the back of a truck. We always loaded our steers up and took them to the processing facility. Thanks for sharing. I wish that more people would buy their meat from local, responsible, farmers instead of buying feed lot meat trucked into their local "super-center" that has to have an "ingredient" label to cover the additives.

Seven Trees said...

Most people who just have a one or two critters to be slaughtered just have the truck come out. I think if we had more, the knacker's would have us truck them in. I'm glad they provide the housecall service though. Lots less stress for everyone involved. There are only 2 companies in our county that do custom slaughter, and the 'other one' doesn't have a good reputation.


Jeannine from Pittsburgh said...

How nice that your two guys didn't have to be trucked off-site for their slaughter. Much more humane and less stressful that way. One problem that small farms are encountering is that small, FDA-approved slaughter houses are becoming an endangered species. Is the portable slaughterhouse you guys used just for processing of meat you can't legally sell, or is it FDA-inspected? Just curious. Love reading about all your projects--I wish I had your energy and ingenuity!

Seven Trees said...

The truck operates out of a regular small processing establishment. We took a batch of meat chickens there one year, but unfortunately they don't do chickens anymore. Other people bring their critters to them, but I really prefer having the truck come out.

I believe the place recently got approved for USDA, meaning retail sales of butchered critters, but I don't think the truck is. There are a couple of places in the next county that do a great job too, but it's too far for them to come here, and we're not hauling down there. There is also a USDA-approved mobile slaughter unit owned by a co-op that operates in a multi-county area, but I think it's cost prohibitive for just a couple cows.

Our area is still rural enough to need a local slaughterhouse, thank goodness!


Jeannine from Pittsburgh said...

Were you guys able to make your blood sausage? Seems like it would require different slaughter methods to collect. I'd love to try some traditional British "black pudding". Watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall make it from pig's blood, and have had some Spanish blood sausage (I think it was lamb). It amazes me how much goes to waste in our industrial meat production. Even with purchasing meat from small local farmers (which I do), it seems that certain things just aren't available.

Seven Trees said...

Unfortunately we couldn't collect any blood. Once we read that cows are fairly 'active' after being killed, we gave up the idea. And after seeing how Doug & Buddy kept kicking, there was just no way. I'm not sure how it could be done sanitarily either.

We're having the butchers save out all the offal they can though, including the fat. I read that rendering it down will be pretty nasty, but I'm going t otry at least a little bit. We took the lazy way out and are paying extra to have them process the offal for an extra $30. We could have kept whatever we wanted on slaughter day, but once I saw tripe in it's raw form, I thought I'd best skip it. The stomach contents were as green as grass clippings, but smelled like manure. I don't think I could have cleaned them enough to feel comfortable eating it.

There are more pictures of innards & stuff, but not really the prettiest sight.

Jeannine from Pittsburgh said...

I've heard that you need to clean tripe in a lye bath. And even after it's cleaned it's an acquired taste. Some things are probably best left to compost.
Thanks again for sharing. I find your blog to be really fascinating. I think my next step will be offering to help the local farmers I buy meat from on slaughter day.

Aimee said...

Hi there! I was just reading through some back entries on my blog and ran across your comment. I think you will be happy with Keizer - we always have been, although we use them for pork, not beef. But I have bought beef processed by them for the last three years (from my neighbor's farm) and been quite happy. I agree with you - the "other one" (starts with an "L") hasn't got a great rep.
I look forward to reading about your farm. Nice to meet a neighbor!

Seven Trees said...

Thanks for the kind words regarding our blog. I love sharing our experiments with anyone interested in this kind of stuff.

Pigs are on our list for spring, and I can't wait to see how that goes!

We're looking into moving our blog to a wordpress format in the relatively near future. It looks like there is a lot more we can do, once we get the details figured out. One of our winter projects is getting a little more businesslike with our ventures, so having a blog/website that is easier to work with will be a godo thing.


risa said...

We had the truck out only once, I think about 1981, to do a steer. Mostly we have done chickens, ducks, geese, an occasional lamb, and, oh yes, a couple of deer back in the seventies (we are old-timers), all by ourselves. It has saved us a lot of expense over the years.

For the larger animals we hang a come-along on a hook in the barn, and dress out right there. Straw catches anything liquid that we miss, and goes straight out to the compost bin when we are cleaning up.

So many of our readers are vegetarian, though, that I have been reticent posting about it! It was good that you reported so well on this experience.

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