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How to butcher a goat.

Homestead kids learn where their food comes from at an early age--and meat is no exception. Here, 13-year-old Gregory Shannon describes his family's goat butchering method.

We have been raising goats for five years. We have been using them for milk, meat, cart pulling and to show. We generally raise LaManchas, Nubians and Alpines. However, in 1999, we bred our Alpine doe to a Boer buck. The result was twin Boer bucks. We had no need to keep the twins so we butchered them. We butcher several wethers (castrated males) every year, so we have had lots of experience.

When selecting a goat to butcher, a wether is the best choice. A Boer goat is the best breed for butchering because Boers are bred to be meaty. Dairy goats are also good but they don't grow as fast and as large as the Boers. We butchered the six-month-old Boer cross twins and 10-month-old Nubian twins a few weeks apart, and the Boers were as big as the Nubians. Boers are best butchered from six to 12 months of age, and dairy breeds from eight to 12 months.

Equipment we use is sharp knives, a knife sharpener, and a bone saw. A bone saw is a saw especially designed for cutting bone. It looks like a big bow saw with a thin blade. It is not very expensive and can be found in a butcher supply shop. We use a hand crank to hang the goat where we can easily get all the way around it. We also use two buckets, one full of water and one empty.

The first thing in butchering is to shoot the goat. We always chain the goat up and feed it grains as we shoot it. A goat that dies happy bleeds better than a goat that dies scared. Plus, they are our animals and we want to be as humane as possible.

Once the animal is dead, we cut the head off. Then we cut a slit in the hind legs between the leg bone and the hamstring where there is no bone. We put some thick string through it and tie it securely to a metal ring or something like that, fastened securely on a thick rope. We do that for both hind legs. Then we hang the goat up on our hand crank. We do this in our goat stable.

We use a knife to skin in a ring around the hind leg, being careful not to cut the hamstring tendon. Then we start skinning from the hind legs down. We don't cut the skin completely off, but let it hang. When we reach the tail, we cut it off with the bone saw. After that, we skin until we reach the knees of the front legs. Then we cut the hanging skin completely off. After that, we always cut the front legs from the knee to the hoof off. Then we cut the belly about five inches down the middle of the front of the goat. We always start a few inches below the hind legs and cut about five inches, letting the insides spill partly out. We split the pelvic bone with the bone saw and carefully loosen the urethra and anus. We cut a few more inches and let the insides spill out some more. We keep doing this until we reach the ribs. After that, we pull the insides out until they're all out. We let them fall into an empty bucket.

If the stomach or anything else gets Cut, we always use a bucket of water to splash on the meat to clean it. To save the liver, we carefully cut the gall bladder away from the liver without letting the bile ruin the meat.

Once that's done, we use the bone saw to cut straight down the backbone until the goat is in two halves. After that, we cut from the hock to the hoof off. Then we put the halves in a deep freezer, or if it is a cold day, we leave them outside for a few hours until they're cooled down. If we leave it outside, we have to watch out for our cats and dogs. We always butcher the goat in the morning and cut the meat at night.

Once it's cooled down enough, we cut the meat in our,kitchen on the counter, on a butcher block to protect the counter. (A butcher block could be made out of a two-foot by two-foot-thick board.) When cutting we first cut to the bone with a knife and cut the bone with a bone saw. Then we cut the ribs off. The ribs usually don't have much meat at all except grinding meat. We cut the grinding meat off and feed the ribs to the cats and dogs. Then the backbone can be cut into two or three pieces. A front leg and a shoulder combined can make one roast for our large family. If the goat is big, each hind leg can be made into two good-sized roasts. We wrap each roast in freezer paper, label it with the kind of cut and the date, and store it in a deep freezer. From a good-sized goat we get approximately eight large roasts.

On Sundays we put a roast in the oven along with carrots and potatoes before we leave for church, and let it cook until we come back. It takes about three hours at 375 [degrees] F for a roast to cook. We make gravy and serve the meat on a platter. It makes a delicious Sunday dinner.

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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 2001
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