Processing your own pork – how to kill, butcher, and cook a pig

A great thanks to Mark for sending this article in, what an excellent guide!

Processing Your Own Pork

By: Mark Shirah

When I told my brother-in-law that I was bringing my family back home for a visit over the week of Thanksgiving 2008, he asked if I’d be up to helping him slaughter a couple of hogs. I’ve skinned wild hogs, but these were some Yorkshires that he’d raised to their current 200-250# weights, and he was going to scald them and scrape the hair so he’d be able to get bacon. On the last one he killed, he asked my dad, who came over to help, just where the bacon was. He was a little let down when dad told him it was on the skin in the gut pile…learning usually has a curve to it. I volunteered to help…any excuse to learn a new skill.

First, kill the hog. It doesn’t take a large caliber, but just a .22 to the forehead. After they are down, cut the jugular vein by making a large slit behind the jowl and reach in…you’ll probably be able to tell what you’re after. Hang them up and let them bleed out for a few minutes.
It really helps to be cold outside. I think it was in the 40s when we processed these.

My BIL had set up a grate with a couple of 55 gal steel barrels on it, and had the water at 140 degrees…that’s real important so the hair doesn’t “set”, making it hard to scrape off. Using a gambrel, pulley, and pickup to raise and lower the hog, dip it in the scalding water. Then put it on a table about waist high to keep from killing your back. Looks like this:

It’ll take several dippings and a great deal of scraping with a sharp knife to get all the hair off, but once you do, hang the hog and prepare to gut it.

Cut around the anus (and if it is a female, the vaginal opening as well) and pull out enough to tie it off with a piece of string. You’ll pull this back through the pelvic opening once you’ve opened the hog up.

Next, cut open the belly and chest, being very careful not to puncture the intestines. Once he’s opened up, just pull the entrails downward to a bucket. Once you’ve removed the entrails, give him a thorough washing with clear water.

Then use a torch to sear off the remaining hair. Most of it will be real fine, but if you don’t want it on your bacon and “cracklins”, don’t forget this step.

Use a sawzall with a real coarse blade to cut the backbones. It also works well for cutting the feet off.

Place the halves on a clean surface to cut into pieces. Cut the ham and the shoulder off each side.

This ham is about 20 pounds…

Cut out the tenderloin, if you don’t have a meat saw. You’d need a bandsaw for meat to do porkchops. Then cut out the ribs, and save all extraneous meat for the grinder.

Crank up the BBQ and put a tenderloin in the oven with taters and carrots…fine eating!

Author: Nick-LaDieu

Webmaster of Budding skill enthusiast and modern survivalist. When nick isn't plotting his next project he is probably running with his dogs, riding his mountain bike, or fiddling with his home theater.

  • Richard

    ummm.. now that morningstar faken-bacon just doesn’t quite hold up to the real thing….
    now i’m hungry!

  • My husband had the opportunity to slaughter two young feral pigs that our neighbor helped us trap in our orchard. It was a great learning experience that our 70 year old neighbor was able to pass on to us “youngsters” who have never participated in large animal slaughter. We shared the meat, which was great!

    The process shown above is a little different than the way we were shown, but looks like something we could do.

  • hoobajoob

    fan-tas-tic! one point of contention, you could do pork chops with a hacksaw, it just takes forever and a day.

  • Bobbyshirah

    Good job, Mark

  • Settlesdown

    Great post!

  • Bruce Mackay

    Looks like they did a fine job on those hogs. I have done a lot of butchering on big game . Not professionally and it is a bigger job doing pork at home.I have helped with that as well learning to sear the hide with hot water and scrape is a bit to learn but not all that technical . The hard part is to get all set up right and ready with enough water and a place to work. Bruce Mackay

  • Asasd

    booorrrrkk, you non-muslims are not aware what you are eating. such a disgusting vomit

  • smart……the tips on getting the hair off were valuable

  • Lardbucket

    Shooting the hog is the trickiest part. My experience is to do it right the first time. Mentally mark between the pigs eyes…go up two inches from that point. 22 cal. straight into that spot from the same height of the pig. Do not shoot down. It will likely not hit the brain..and instead just make the hog that much more upset and harder to get a good shot. If it is done right, the hog will hit the deck first shot. Immediately cut the jugular and let bleed out. Now comes the work part….

  • Glenn H

    Never shoot a hog while it is lying down, It will likely break both back legs, then the hams have to be boned out to prevent spoilage.

  • willl

    my question is(since i’ve never done this)wheres the bacon and how to cut it??

  • Luke

    Nice site, thankyou from your cuzns in Canada

  • jenifer

    My husband alway scratches the pig between the eyes with a stick when he feeds it so it will not shy away at the critical moment.

  • mary

    I was so glad to see all the step-by-step photos. Thanks!

  • Judy Scronce

    we bought & killed a large hog about 900 lbs. but the fat back & bacon when it was fried, was so hard it could not be eaten. It is like a rock. why is this or what did we do wrong?

  • Ballen

    Way too big and old.

  • e. hughes

    Hi There.
    We know how to do all the killing and cutting but what we do not know is how to process the pork for mince. [mincing and additives ].
    If you could please inform us on how and what needs to be added it would be a great help. We also found your site very informative.
    Thanking you and have a great day.

  • Penny Jo Slone

    A hog that old and fat should have been used as sausage only.

  • Lori

    Just want to say, “thank you,” for being so clear, humane, and not crass at all in your instruction in butchering. We appreciate it, and don’t feel quite as intimidated at butchering our own hog, which is getting really large. The butcher fees are well-earned, but we would rather learn this valuable skill ourselves! This comment is from a not so country girl, mother of (going-on) twelve children. Thank you!

  • james

    I am on my way down home to kill a 300 pound.I needed a refresher course thank you port barre Louisiana.

  • Bob Cummings

    I’ll take a pound of bacon and some ribs please

  • goldlions

    NICE, thank for the tips.

  • Dan Pasare

    Actually you used to complicated tools. All you need is a knife, some rope, hot water, salt and a gas burner (or the old method with wheat straw). You catch the rope on the legs on one side of the pig (you need another man to help you). Both of you pull up the rope to lay down the pig (on the side where the legs are catched). You put the knife on the throat of the pig (you only need one cut). You wait that the pig die. Put the straws on the pig and start a fire (or use a gas burner … We use that now because it is simple, but with the straw the bacow has a better taste). After the hair is burn, you take hot watter with salt ( to make the skin soft and tasty) and shave it with a dull knife. After the scrapping, you put the pig on the belly (you can use an old woddend door or some pallets) make a cross on the forehead, cover with some old blankets and let the children to “ride the pig”. Cut with a knife the head, cut the belly on the half, take the guts on a big vessel (that is the job of the women). Wash the interior. With a small axe you cut precissely in half (other cut not directly on the spine) and you will have to halves of the pig. Then on a table take the beacon, the muscles (you follow with a very sharp knife the musches an the bones). So, as tools you need: 3m of rope, 2 knifes (one long for stabbing and one curved for cutting meat, large vessels) watter and a lot of salt to preserve the meat and beacon.
    I make this every year (on Christmass), and now (07-2016) i have beacon from 12-2015. Tired to write all the proccess, sorry for my english, come into romania on around 19-12- on every year on villagess to see the whole proccess and the preservation methods. If you want furter details use Best regards.

  • Dan Pasare

    Wtf! Now i’ve see it. You cut the legs with an electric saw!?!?!!. You can do it with a sharp knife … Just follow the tendons with your cut. You are more master if you don’t cut the bones (they break and when you make food you will have small bones pieces in the food) or you cut then (where is needit) with an axe with one precissely cut. (Again sorry for my english).

  • peter ntjamba

    helpful information.