Are You Really Prepared to Harvest a Market Animal at Home?

Thanks to University of Nebraska-Lincoln's BeefWatch and Brianna Buseman, Youth Meat Nebraska Extension Educator and Carol Schwarz, Nebraska Extension Educator for this helpful article!   Many people are looking for opportunities to buy market animals to harvest at home, which has led to many questions about the best way to complete that task. Prior to making the decision to try home harvest, there are a few important things to consider: Food Safety Can you properly cool the carcass and keep it clean to ensure meat safety? One of the main concerns when harvesting livestock at home is temperature. If handled poorly or not stored properly, meat can be a great place for bacteria to grow.  It is important to cool the carcass to 34-45o F within 24 hours after harvest. In addition to environmental temperature, care needs to be taken to decrease the chance of carcass contamination (feces, dust, etc.) that could lead to bacteria growth. Furthermore, meat can absorb off odors and flavors from the environment.  Scents such as manure, gasoline, etc., can be absorbed and lead to problems with odors and flavors within the meat. If harvesting at home, it is necessary to ensure the environment is cool and clean. Animal Welfare Can you ensure humane handling and stunning? Having the ability to handle li

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3 thoughts on “Are You Really Prepared to Harvest a Market Animal at Home?

  1. The main reason we have decided to butcher our own on farm is not COVID, although that certainly propelled us faster, but the poor handling and improper aging of our animals at the custom processors that has negatively affected our meat quality in recent years.

    1. Can you tell us how it’s working for you? Are there challenges not included in the article? Were there things that went better than expected or surprises along the way?

      1. Right now we have done just pork and lamb. We have a closet sized walk in cooler where we can chill them. It is not large enough for beef so we are designing a larger cooler we can operate seasonally.

        The challenge is the time from slaughter to chill…only because we are new at it, and having a separate facility in which to butcher, which is in the works.

        Generally though, the results are far superior than anything we have gotten from local processors. So far we have done this for our own family until our skill and facilites are set up. But I feel we will be able to offer our customers a much better product and more premium options than we have been in the past.

        Adam Danforth’s books are excellent resources as are The Bearded Butchers on Youtube.

        I will add that our farm is 100% solar powered and designing energy efficient chilling rooms is a bit challenging.

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