We have had two of our steers killed now, one at home and one at the meatworks. The first, Trevor, was bottle-raised by me and my husband, so we didn’t feel ready to have him killed at home. Luckily our neighbours were planning to take one of their animals to our local abattoir, so they offered to take our steer if we picked up the meat a week later. They took Trevor away on the Thursday and the meat was ready to pick up from the butcher the following Friday. The butcher called us before he started working on our meat and asked which cuts we wanted. We were pretty happy with the result, especially as we didn’t really know what to expect, although the sausages were a little fattier than we would have liked.
Little Trevor was bottle fed, so we didn't want to see him killed on our property.
The main disadvantage of the meatworks option is that you don’t know for sure that you are getting your own animal back when you pick up the meat. It could be any tough old cow that turned up on the same day. I don’t think we had that problem, as the meat was lovely and tender, but it is a risk. The other problem is that you need to have a suitable loading ramp and vehicle to move the animal AND all the appropriate paperwork (waybill etc). We built a loading ramp from scrap metal and our neighbour provided the truck.
Trevor and Murray
The main advantage of using the meatworks is that you don’t have to deal with any of the waste, as it all goes offsite (but then you also miss out on that valuable fertiliser). And, of course, you don’t have to watch your steer get shot, which can be traumatic if you raised him from a young animal.
For our second steer, Murray, we had moved to the South Burnett and had no suitable meatworks close by, so we decided to try a home butcher. The butcher came to our house on a Friday afternoon, killed the steer and hung him in a mobile cool room. The butcher came back on the Monday morning (at 6am, and it was a FREEZING June day) and started to do his work. This meant that we had more control over the process as we could request the thickness of steaks and size of roasts as the butcher worked. We tried to control the amount of fat in the sausages, but somehow they still ended up too fatty!
My clever husband built a cattle ramp from scrap metal so that we could load Trevor onto a truck.
The disadvantage of using a home butcher method is that you have to have a suitable area on your property for killing the animal and for the butcher to work. You also get left with all the guts, the head and the hide. We had to dig a massive hole for the guts; other people burn the waste, but we wanted to use it to improve our soil.
In future we will be using the home butcher again, but we are hoping to negotiate access to the mobile cool room for longer this time, to get more tender meat, as we’re not sure that it was hung long enough this time. We will also try to get nicer sausages! Have you used a home butcher? What did you think? More on home butchering here.