pork_cuts pasture raised pork

Homestead Hog Butchering & Stats

How about a post that probably none of you really care about? Today I’m sharing the instructional videos and information that we used to butcher our own hogs this year as well as the stats for raising our own pork. 

Are you still with me? That’s why I love you so.

I need to post this for us because we’re going to try to put ourselves on a yearly rotation whereby we are raising hogs that will be ready for butchering in the late fall/early winter instead of in the middle of the blazing heat of an August summer (which is why our hogs were sent to the local butcher this year for a “kill & chill”). By then I’m sure we will have completely forgotten where the cuts are made, how we did it etc…  And I don’t want to run the risk of repeating the potentially risky situation we were in a few weeks ago.

Unlike when we butchered our bull last winter and were in the difficult situation where we were unable to find any decent video tutorials, there was no shortage of information about butchering hogs on the web. The problem that I kept running into was that they were primarily done by chefs and the cuts of meat they are after are not the same as the simple ones I’m interested in. We eat normal food here with simple ingredients and to be honest we’re just doing this for the sausage and bacon. We’ll eat the rest, but I’m confident that we wouldn’t be squeezing a couple hogs on these two acres if it hinged on a pork chop.

When you first cut into your half, you’re basically dividing it into these five sections. Notice the slight difference between these two images. In the top image the ham is taken all the way up while the bottom image adds it to the loin section. We left the piece of meat in question as part of the ham. This video made the overall dividing process seem simple enough so that I wasn’t intimidated by it.

From there you begin to have to make a few decisions.

Starting at the front end:
~We kept 3 out of 4 Boston Butt Roasts. Number 4 went into the ground pork bin.
~2 of the 4 Picnic Roasts became sausage. The others will be pulled pork.

For the side:
~We kept the spare ribs leaving most of the meat on the belly.
~The belly was divided into manageable sections and cured and smoked for bacon. We tried this recipe from Martha Stewart and upon completion sacked that slab and sent it out to the trash. My intentions with using this recipe was to find a way to process the belly without curing the bacon in nitrites. I don’t get fanatical about little things like nitrites especially since a serving of spinach has more nitrites than a serving of bacon. Sure those in bacon are processed and not God-made, but when you’re buying “nitrite-free” bacon at the store, you’re being duped anyway.  So my search ends here.

I settled on this recipe which is simple and delicious. Next year, I would strongly advise my husband to soak the bacon as recommended instead of simply washing it and also to slice it more thinly, bearing in mind that thinner slices ultimately more packages of bacon.

For the loin:
~ We kept 2 out of 4 tenderloins to use for Canadian bacon. (Apparently this isn’t supposed to be processed the same as regular bacon. Note to self: Find a recipe for next year.)
~We kept 3 out of 4 sections for pork chops with the 4th being allocated to the ground pork bin.
~We kept 2 out of 4 baby back ribs with the chops from those sections being boneless.

For the leg:
~We divided the hams into maybe 3 manageably sized sections and are curing them following this method.  That will be a lot of ham and since we really don’t eat too terribly much ham, maybe half of what we cured some of the hams from next year may go to ground pork.

With all of that ground pork we mostly use as a burger meat substitute (I love pork burgers so much better than beef!) or for bulk sausage which I season with salt, pepper, and sage at the time of cooking. Simple and not too spicy for the children’s sensitive palates.

Our primary video source was this series which was extremely helpful although we did not follow his breakdown for cuts exactly- particularly in the loin region.
Primal Cuts
The Shoulder: Part 1
The Shoulder: Part 2
The Shoulder & Butt
Loin Overview
Loin, Chops, Ribs
Loin Roast & Side Ribs
Loin Steaks or Chops
The Ham: Part 1 & 2 (these are for boneless hams)

{The Stats}

Two 55lb. feeder pigs- $150.00
1950 lbs. hog feed-         440.51
“Kill & Chill”-               100.00
Total-                            690.51

The hanging weight at the butcher was 413 pounds and very little bones were scrapped making the price per pound $1.67.

I can’t exactly compare this pork with pastured pork for sale in the area because while our hogs were raised in a pasture, it often didn’t stay very lush for long especially with our wet spring. I’m ok with that. My meat still ate some grass. I know it was well cared for, was raised humanely in the fresh air and sunshine with plenty of room to run around and play, and the mud they wallowed in wasn’t of their own making if you know what I mean.

Were I to compare this pork to what is being sold at the local grocery store chains flyers that have been coming in over the last couple weeks, $1.67 is a great price. Sausage is being sold for $1.75/lb., bacon for $3.69/lb., spare ribs are $2.79/lb., back ribs for $4.99/lb., tenderloin for $5.99/lb. and boneless chops for $4.79/lb.

What amazes me the most is that these two hogs cost only $20 more in feed than the 30 or so Freedom Rangers we butchered a couple weeks before yet the chickens yielded only 42% of the meat! That doesn’t mean that you’ll be seeing chicken disappear from our menu here any time soon though!

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