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.