A beef animal selected for slaughter should be healthy and in thrifty condition. Keep the animal off feed 24 hours before slaughter, but provide free access to water.
Do not run or excite the animal prior to slaughter because this may cause poor bleeding and give the carcass a bloody appearance.
The weather, especially expected temperatures the few days following slaughter, is extremely important. Night temperatures should be 32°F or lower for the carcass to chill properly without refrigeration.
The meat will spoil if improperly chilled and stored during warm weather. Also, during extremely cold weather, the meat should be protected from freezing by covering it with a clean cover.
Slaughter should be done in a dry, clean, dust-free area. A well-drained grassy area is recommended.
Take precautions during slaughter, chilling, and processing to keep the carcass and cuts clean and free from contamination. Use clean equipment, keep hands clean, wear clean clothing, and keep work and storage areas clean.
The carcass can be chilled without refrigeration by hanging it in a dry, clean building. Freedom from odors or contamination is essential.
Most meat spoilage and off-odors and flavors can be attributed to one or more of the following causes:
Improper chilling of the carcass. The internal temperature of the round and other thick parts should be lowered to 40-45°F within 24 hours after slaughter.
Adsorption of off-odors. When the carcass is chilled and aged in an area with any odor (manure, gasoline, paint, musty odor, etc) the carcass will absorb it.
Poor sanitation during slaughter, chilling, and processing. This contamination with microorganisms causes off-odors, off-flavors, and spoilage.
Improper freezing and storage of frozen meat. Packaged meat should be quick-frozen and stored at 0° to 5°F. Home freezers are for storage of products already frozen, not for quick-freezing large quantities of meat. Small quantities, preferably less than 25 pounds, can be satisfactorily frozen at home by placing meat in the freezer with at least one inch of space between each package.
The minimum required items of equipment for home slaughtering are as follows.
Stunning device such as 22 caliber rifle.
Block and tackle, chain hoist, or tractor equipped with hydraulic lift.
Beef spreader (singletree equipped with hooks on both ends and a ring in the center will do).
24- or 28-inch meat saw.
6-inch sharp skinning knife, 6-inch boning knife, and 8-inch butcher knife.
10- or 12-inch steel bucket to hold water for washing hands.
Ample clean water and clean hand towels.
How to Stun Animal
Kill the animal as humanely as possible. If a rifle is used, exercise recommendations for safe use of firearms. The proper place for the bullet to strike is at the intersection of two imaginary lines extending from the right horn or anima, edge of poll to the left eye and from the left horn or edge of poll to the right eye. A sharp blow at this point with a sledge hammer will also stun the animal.
As soon as the animal is down, bleed it without delay. Stand behind the animal as in Figure 2 and with the sharp skinning knife make an incision through the hide in the middle of the dewlap immediately in front of the breastbone.
Hold the knife so the point is directed toward the rear of the animal, insert the knife under the breastbone toward the rump of the animal and cut toward the backbone. This will cut the arteries that cross just beneath the point of the breastbone.
Be careful not to stick too deep into the chest cavity. Cut straight with the backbone. Pump the foreleg back and forth a few times to help bleeding.
Turn the animal on its back and place a short prop (square post) on either side to hold it there. Remove the forefeet and shanks at the knee by locating and cutting through the flat joint with a knife. Skin out the hind legs and remove the hind feet and shanks by sawing as in.
Next, split the hide from the opening in front of the brisket down the midline of the belly to the bung. Hold the skinning knife at a slight angle.
Then split the hide at the rear of each hind leg beginning where the shank was removed, moving to the udder or scrotum. Do not skin the outside of the hind legs nor front legs until the carcass is being hoisted. The intact hide will keep the shanks clean during hoisting.
The next part of skinning is known as “siding.” Begin the siding by sliding the knife under the skin that has been cut over the belly. Grasp the loosened hide with hand (hair side is easiest to hold) and pull it up and outward. Place the knife firmly against the hide with the cutting edge turned slightly toward the hide.
Use long, smooth strokes of the knife, to remove the hide down over the sides. This is one of the most difficult tasks in skinning.