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Homekill butcher day - tips and tricks

I usually split homekill beef into two distinct days.  Slaughter day is stressful and emotional.  There is the worry of getting the animal into the appropriate yard, the butcher turning up on time, seeing the animal killed and quartered, its a hard day.  Then a few days later (depending how long the carcass is hung for, this could be up to a week or more) you get butcher day.  Butcher day is hard work, but its not stressful if you are well prepared and you have a good butcher.  Here's a few tips and tricks for getting all that meat safely into the freezer.

eight acres: homekill butcher day tips and tricks

Turn on your freezers and fridges the night before
Just make sure everything is working in case you are going to need to urgently borrow or purchase additional facilities!

eight acres: homekill butcher day tips and tricks

Get a good vacuum packer
It really pays not to be stingy when buying a vacuum packer.  Sure you will only use it a few days a year, but when you do use it, you need it to work ALL day until that meat is packed.  We used to pack some meat in freezer bags because they are cheaper, but the meat retains better quality in the vaccum bags, so its worth the extra expense for us (it depends how long its going to take you to eat all that beef).  Our original vacuum sealer didn't work well last year, and looks like the sealing part is bowed, so I got a new Sunbeam VS780, so far I am very happy with it, but I did get the extended warranty just in case.

eight acres: homekill butcher day tips and tricks

Spread the packets out flat so that everything packs neatly
After you seal a packet of mince (ground beef) you can then smooth it out flat so that it will stack neatly in the freezer.  This also works with casserole meat.  I try to keep the steaks flat too.

eight acres: homekill butcher day tips and tricks

Prepare all your weird seasonings before the butcher arrives
Our butcher is used to us now, and knows that I prefer to make my own stuffing for the rolled roasts, and that we buy organic sausage mix and natural hog casings.  We also need to respect his time, it does take him longer to make things they way we want, so we have to have everything prepared before he arrives.

eight acres: homekill butcher day tips and tricks
Rolled roast stuffing "recipe"
Breadcrumbs (made from stale bread dried in the woodstove or BBQ)
Garlic granules (made by drying garlic cloves in the woodstove)
Mixed dried herbs (from the garden)
Other things from the pantry if I don't think I've made enough, including: sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, other nuts and seeds
I pulse everything in a blender to a suitable consistency, its really just a medium for conveying the garlic!

Sausages need to rest for a few days before freezing
That means you need some large dishes to store the sausages and plenty of fridge space.  We have white butcher tubs that we use throughout butcher day, and they end up full of sausages right at the end.  And we have a spare fridge which usually fits all the sausages (one year it didn't work and we had to emergency clear out the main fridge to make room - that is when butcher day is stressful!).

eight acres: homekill butcher day tips and tricks

Keep your dog inside (away from the butcher), but if all else fails give her a bone
The butcher arrived at 7am, and we kept Taz inside for most of the day, but by 1pm I thought she might need to come outside for a wee.  Of course she then had to check out what the butcher was doing, but she left him alone when we gave her a bone to chew on.

eight acres: homekill butcher day tips and tricks

Let the chickens clean up
When the butcher was done, we let the chickens out and they picked up all the little scraps of meat in the car port, you never would have know the butcher was there!

Once again, we have plenty of beef in the freezer and we are starting to compare the two animals.  So far the fat heifer is winning, but we've only tried rib fillets.  Any tips and tricks for packing large volumes of meat?  Whether you buy in bulk or homekill....


  1. So very organised you are. Im sure the butcher appreciates this. All that lovely meat, so jealous.

  2. Mmmm. Roast beef, my favourite! You didn't mention removing and re packing the meat until it freezes. Does vacuum packing make this unnecessary. We learnt the hard way. When freezing some meat, we just left it all in the freezer together and the packs froze against each other making them impossible to separate!

    1. Good point Linda, I think that's in one of the earlier posts, you certainly do need to repack the freezer a couple of times over the first few days to make sure everything freezes quickly and not in one big lump!

  3. Another great post. You are so right, the killing day is stressful. Sounds like we do it same way as you do, having the beast in a separate yard, but I always stress that the animal is going to get stressed when the butcher takes his time unpacking everything before he does the shot. So this last time I didn't put the beast in the yard until the butcher arrived & it was much less stressful....on me!! I wish our butcher would do the cutting up here at our property, as we have our own cold room, but he takes the carcass away & does it at his place. How can I diplomatically ask him to do it here without offending him? Butchers are hard to come by & I don't want to lose him as he's excellent in every other way. I would just love to be on hand so I have some input into sausage flavorings, using our herbs etc. Any suggestions? or will I need to look for another butcher?

    1. Oh that is a tricky one! I didn't know they were allowed to take the beast away.... maybe different rules in different states.... maybe you could just tell him that you'd like to see what he does, just out of interest, and even if you go to his place while he's doing the butchering, at least you will have input.... our butcher has just got used to us being weird and wanting to use different ingredients :)

  4. We've never had to use a butcher. My FIL bought the contents of a butcher shop that went out of business, so we have a butcher shop with everything in it, including the freesers. We have an 8x8 walk-in cooler that they built so we kill, skin and hang the beef, quartered for up to a week. Then we just take it a piece at a time to the butcher shop and cut, wrap and freese on the spot. We have always used the heavy-duty butcher paper, wax lined, but I'm trying to talk hubby into investing in a vacuum sealer. I didn't know you needed to wait to freese the sausage, but many times we smoke it, so that wouldn't apply, would it? My FIL could make anything, they took an old fridge, gutted it and put a small electric burner from an old stove in the bottom. Then they hung rods in it and cut up an old hickory stump. Yum!


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