At home meat/game processing

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by bmaddox, Feb 11, 2015.

  1. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I am on the fence about taking the leap into processing meat and game at home. I am not fully convinced that the upfront investment for the equipment will be worth it in the long run. Any advice on where to start would be appreciated. 

    I am especially looking for advice on grinders and slicers.
  2. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    First place to start would be the County/State Agriculture departments or whatever runs the show in your area to see if you want to jump through all the hoops necessary to open the doors. My next stop would be my insurance agent to see how much a years worth of liability insurance would be. I was going to do my que sauce years ago and after a few weeks of red tape I decided it just wasn't worth it. Not to be a downer but a problem could cost you everything you got. 
  3. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    If you are talking about doing it for yourself it's not a problem. We have been processing our own deer & elk for years. Started out by boning & cutting our own and having the burger ground and steaks cubed by a butcher. We then graduated to our own grinder, cuber and vacuum sealer. Whether or not it's economical for you would depend on how many and  what type animals you plan to do. For the occasional deer or hog you don't need a huge commercial grinder or sealer. If you are talking beef, elk, moose, and larger hogs it's a different story. If you are cutting beef or large hogs you probably also need a meat band saw. Then there is a space to do it all. So I guess I would ask what you plan to cut and how often?
  4. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I am looking to process my own deer and hogs (not do it commercially). On a good year I will have 4 deer and a few hogs to process. My problem is that the only butcher in town that will process wild game really isn't that great. The product is ok but the customer service is terrible. I would much rather process my own game at home and possibly get into grinding custom cuts for sausage (but game processing is the priority)
  5. crazymoon

    crazymoon Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    B, Spend the money and you won't regret it.Processing your own lets you:

    know that hygiene is being practiced

    burger/sausage is mixed w/what you want and your ratio

    portions are packed to your family needs

    wrapped the way you want it i.e. vac seal, freezer paper etc

    I could go on but my wife says time to eat [​IMG]. I have bought processing equipment over the years to make it easier and easier but you only need to have some good knives,a grinder and a stuffer( or forget the stuffer and just use bulk sausage) and a box of freezer paper/freezer tape to start.
  6. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    I am not sure what processing costs you there but it got spendy where we lived, not to mention our favorite butcher retired and we had to drive 30 miles. If you feel you can handle doing that many animals economically speaking you could probably recover your investment in a couple seasons assuming he's charging .75 cents a pound cut and wrap. If you bone most of your meat you could live with a hand saw, grinder, and vacuum sealer.3 folding tables cover with butcher paper and cutting boards ( synthetic of some kind). Maybe a slicer if you want to do bacon. Good quality knives a must have. Go with a 1/2 or 3/4 horse grinder. And plastic meat totes.
  7. I just enjoy doing it myself, guess its the pioneer spirit but they didn't have the stuff we do. Also, never was sure I got all MY meat back from the processor. First for me was a dvd on butchering deer just to make sure I didn't waste any. But I am anal about trimming silverskin. Wore out 2 cheap grinders before I got a LEM with a foot control. Still on the same vac sealer for 10 years. Got a hand crank cuber for steak. Just received a sausage stuffer cause trying to use stuffing tubes with a grinder ain't fun. Use good quality vac sealer bags and meat will keep for 3-4 years. You'll enjoy it as well.
  8. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  9. rstr hunter

    rstr hunter Smoking Fanatic

    Here are 2 q-views I did a few years back that may help.



    We use a #22 grinder hooked to a well pump motor that works great. I also buoght a 12" slicer off of amazon that was a knock off but does a nice job.  Slicer was a little spendy but well orth it for belly bacon.  Good luck butchering.
  10. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    You make a good point. You should get your own meat back but there is no guarantee that will happen. You sure don't want deer meat some knot head drove around in the back of his truck with the hide on for 3 days. If you hang it and take care of it yourself you know it's history.
  11. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    Great photo tutorial RH! Thanks for posting this.
  12. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Once you get started you'll try to figure out why you didn't start earlier. Not only will you be able to process your own game but you'll be able to make your own sausage, buy meats and make your own sliced lunch meat much cheaper than buying it. I too am quite sure I got somebody else's deer back from a processor long ago and that convinced me.

    Once a year UF does a wild game processing class that I've been wanting to attend that might be something to look into as well
  13. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    That is what worries me. I work hard to bag a deer and properly field clean and quarter it and I would hate to get something back that was gut shot and left in the woods for 12 hours before being field dressed.
    The cost for me isn't too bad (about $0.75 per pound) but the only butcher that will do it is far away so by the time I drop it off and pick it up I have over 2 hours of my time already invested in it.
    With the size deer we have down here in Florida that saw would probably be able to cut one apart without even being plugged in
    That is a nice set up that you have. 
    I will have to look into the UF class. I am pretty good about breaking animals down into quarters and de-boning them (or so I think) so to me it seems logical to do it all in house instead of paying someone else to finish the butchering.
  14. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

  15. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    One other thing you may want to think about, keeping the meat cool. I see you are in Fla.
  16. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    That definitely is a problem down here. I rely heavily on coolers of ice to keep the meat in while I am breaking down the quarters to keep things from getting too warm. I wish I had the luxury of being able to work outside when it was cold to eliminate that problem but it is only cold here 2 days a year. (but on the flip side I don't have to worry about snow when I am smoking in the winter).
  17. cybball

    cybball Fire Starter

    I got started because I got sick of paying $150 per deer to have processing done. Never knew if my deer was what I ended up with. I bought a LEM #5 grinder after using a kitchenade. Paid for itself year one. Year 2 a stuffer and smoker. Those paid for themselves too. Plus, I really enjoy making awesome stuff with the deer my family gets.
  18. wnc goater

    wnc goater Fire Starter

    I was never terribly happy with the cuts, portions, packaging, and taste of my deer when it was returned from a processor.  Particularly dissatisfied with the burger and sausage.

    One day I was in there waiting on them to package me a butt and watched one of the butchers pull skinned, grey, dripping, deer quarters out of some dudes cooler and proceed to pile it on a table for processing.  I could smell the meat from where I was standing 10-15 feet away. They sawed through bone on the rear ham making steaks. They trim no fat, no silverskin.  Goodness knows what they grind into the burger and sausage.  I imagined the disappointment that was to come for the family cooking that. (Yes, I realize there are some really good game processors out there)

    That kind of sealed the deal for me.  

    Two shoulders, two hams, two backstraps and two tenderloins.  Then all the trimmings.   I get to decide what goes into burger.  I can cut steaks.  I can seperate the rear muscle groups into steaks, roasts, or burger as I wish.  I can trim the silverskin and fat.  I grind and season my own sausage and burger mixing whatever fat ratio I want.  I can take care of it properly along the way.

    It isn't that difficult.  The most difficult thing is getting it out of the woods and skinning it!

    Keep everything cold.  Keep a spray bottle with bleach/water mix and keep your work surfaces cleaned.  Get a couple good knives, and go for it.

    I have a small light duty Weston grinder

    A couple decent but inexpensive knives.

    A food saver vacuum sealer

    A Kitchener 5 lb sausage stuffer

    An inexpensive WallyWorld food scale

    A few tubs

    Some butcher paper, storage bags, etc.

    I have minimal investment in tools and have no heavy duty commercial grade equipment.  But I rarely do more than one, maybe two deer a year.  Our eastern whitetails aren't that big.  You can spend as much or as little as you want. Heck, you can get by without any grinder, stuffer, or vacuum sealer if you want.  Regardless what you spend, follow a few simple rules, starting in the field  with proper care and then mainly diligence with temperature and sanitation, and the quality of your finished product will FAR exceed what you are likely to get from a processor. 

    Plus you get the satisfaction of doing it yourself.
  19. wnc goater

    wnc goater Fire Starter

    And as a "PS" to my above post.  I mention temperature.  I believe this is the most important aspect effecting the quality of the meat and finished product.  


    However you do it, the meat must be cooled quickly.  In a warm environment (in my book that's over 40°)  field dress the deer and get a couple bags of ice stuffed into the cavity as quickly as possible.  If it's really warm, wrap in a tarp with more ice on the outside.  The quicker you drop the temperature the better in my opinion.  

    Then maintain temperature under 40° for the duration of all the skinning, ageing , processing, etc.

    Sometimes this is the most difficult obstacle to overcome.  

    The fine print>> (This is my opinion based on my experiences and the way I do it, others may have other opinions.)
  20. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    You can build a simple walk in cooler with a 2x4 frame, some plastic tarps, and a small room air conditioner available from Costco for 100.00. Or get a little fancier and use siding and insulate it. I have also seen it done with a big tub of ice and a fan.

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