Butchering a Goat

We slaughtered Leo on Friday (thanks Robin, Dylan, and Steve for your help – couldn’t have done it without you), and I butchered the carcass yesterday. Literally. I feel like I really screwed up some of the cuts, but for a first attempt, I think it went alright.

I didn’t photograph the slaughter, but I did take some photos of today’s process.


After skinning, we left the carcass to hang in our cellar (45-50 degrees F) for a little over 24 hours. The meat had dried slightly on the outside, forming a protective layer over the inner, more tender, pieces. I have another photo of Coda looking curiously down from the stairs, but it didn’t show the goat as nicely.

Tools are important. I think I went a little overkill on the number of knives I sharpened, but it was nice to have choices. The big bone saw was Jane’s grandfathers, and while it probably needs a professional sharpening, it made the process 200 times easier.

Much to Margaret’s dismay, I brought the goat into the kitchen to butcher. There’s just not another place with a long flat space, easy access to water and sanitary equipment, and good light. His hanging weight was close to 30lbs, but by the time I weighed each individual cut, it came to about 20lbs.

This is the diagram I was following. In the future, I’ll watch a few more youtube videos and do a little more research before I get the carcass from the cellar. While it was helpful, this diagram left me with many questions.

And here we are. Some of the cuts came out very well … the easiest ones like the legs. Others I did a pretty rough job with, having trouble sawing through the spine on several occasions. The guy in my youtube video must have a really really sharp saw. He did things in seconds that took me 10 minutes and a fair amount of frustration.

The girls (Lucinda and Ke$ha) seem unaffected by Leo’s absence. While he was a sweetheart with us, he was a bully around them and the place has been just that much less chaotic the last few days.

A pot is still simmering on the stove from yesterday afternoon, making goat stock. I picked apart the few bones with meat on them for dinner last night – goat tacos. It needed more lime, but the meat was delicious.

If you’re interested in butchering, check out Mark Dommen’s video. He goes fast, but it’s helpful to see someone do it in a professional setting. I didn’t manage to load the entire video until after I was done, but I would recommend it. When I find a book that’s more helpful than that little diagram, I’ll post it. If you’re reading this, you know how to butcher, and you’ll be in Western MT next fall, hit me up.

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