Living in the country means that I can provide my own meat and not just wild pork. I had two black sheep out with my ewes, one ram and a wether, that’s a ram with no nuts. Because of the time of the year I needed to get them away from the ewes so that they would not become pregnant and have lambs in the winter months. When I had them in the yards I grabbed the ram to drag out and dag before putting him in the pig block. While dragging him out the wether charged me right into the side of my leg and hell it hurt, but it did make cutting his throat a lot easier.
Years ago I worked at Fortex silverstream down by Dunedin as a boner, saw man. This taught me a great skill about boning out animals which I still do regularly today. At the works our shift would cut up 5225 sheep per eleven hour shift so it does not take long to become quick at the job. I learnt how to kill, skin and gut a sheep when I first started working on farms over 33 years ago.
When killing the sheep you first grab the sheep under its jaw and twist the head around away from you while at the same time pulling the sheep towards you. This way the sheep should lie down on its side where it can be controlled. Pull the head back exposing the neck area then using a sharp knife cut the throat just back from the jaw, then snap the neck. It should break at the cut. The cut and break should only take a couple of seconds, then the sheep will kick out with its nerves. Once it stops kicking cut along the inside of the four legs one at a time. Once each cut is done from the foot to the carcass of the animal use the fist to punch the skin away from the meat so that when finished the skin should be just hanging off the sheep.
Next hang the sheep up and cut the skin away down the belly. If it has been skinned properly on the ground then once the cut in the belly is done the skin will come away, apart from around the tail and the head. To get it off around the tail punch the skin up towards the sky until it comes away. The head end should just pull off.
Next to gut the sheep. While still hanging cut around the anus so that it falls inside the carcass. Also cut up the throat so this can be pulled out with the stomach. When cutting the stomach open be careful not to cut the gut bag which can make a real mess. So make a small insertion in the stomach up by the back legs.
Once the knife is through hold the handle high with the blade pointing down and as you come down the stomach area place your other hand inside with a finger on each side of the knife blade. Your fingers will be keeping the point of the knife away from the stomach. once your cut has been made down to the brisket you will be able to pull the stomach content out. I like to have a large bucket ready for the stomach to fall into. You can now leave the sheep to hang, the longer the better. This is why winter is better than summer because it is cooler. I always use a Ridgeline meat bag to place around the sheep, they are cheap and keep all of the flies off the meat.
At the boning stage I have a bucket of hot water and a towel to keep my hands clean and I use a stainless steel bench to keep the meat as clean as possible. I first start with the forequarters which are the front legs. These can be cut of between either the 6th – 7th rib or the 7th- 8th rib. Before cutting them right off make a cut between the meat and the first rib so that you can create yourself a handle to hold the forequarters with.
When you have a good hold on the rib cut though the back bone at the nearest vertebra and twist so the meat comes away. This can now be placed on the bench where the first cuts are made along the back bone then around the ribs so that the front shoulders come off the barrel bone. The front shoulders have a join between the blade bone and the front leg if you wriggle this piece of meat you can see where they join. A cut needs to be made across this join.
The next cut goes along the length of the blade bone with two more cuts to open this piece right up. When open properly it fold back like a page in a book and you will see a triangle of fat which gets removed later.
Next cut around both ends of the leg so that it can be twisted around and pulled out. Now cut out that triangle of fat as it has a gland in it the you won’t want to eat. Do the same with both sides, forequarters done.
Now we start on the back legs and back steaks, this can be done in a number of ways. My preference is to bone them right out that way I am not putting bones into my freezer then cooking the bones just to be thrown to the dogs at the end of the day. The piece that we miss out on is the chops by boning this way.
Our first cut starts in between the back legs cutting using the whole length of the knife, at the back of the H bone there is a small bone that our fist cut will go against as we pull our knife out a bit to come back from this bone then keep cutting down into the joint where the leg and H bone meet.
When you get this in the right place it will open up, without taken the knife out keep cutting down along the spine to cut out the tenderloins. When taking the tenderloins out if you grab them near the top and roll your fingers around them you can take them out with out any of the fat from around them, this keeps the meats looking nice and lean. Once the tenderloins are out our next cut is around the small bone on the H bone then down in through the leg joint following the H bone to the end. This should have the leg hanging down. Where the back leg and back steak join is on the end of the H bone, there is not a lot of meat holding these bits together so you have to be careful not to cut them apart.
By keeping them together the back leg helps to pull the back steak apart from the bone. When taking the back steak off the main piece that needs to be cut is between where the cut was down the spine and the start of the ribs. When done right with the weight of the leg the back steaks will peal off easily.
Once these two bits of meat are on the bench they are cut apart. The back steaks have the fat pulled off the back of them before I cut though the middle of them and run my knife along the length of them to clean the last layer off leaving them just lean meat, the eye of the chop. With the back leg I normally slash bone them and take each individual cut out.
The joins are easy to find, see picture.
Before I cut the second side off the ribs I cut the flaps out, these can be stuffed and rolled. When boning the meat off the second side you are actually taking the H bone and ribs off the meat, then bone out the same as the other side.
When all of the meat is cut up bag it and label it. This makes things a lot easier when it comes to getting a piece of meat out of the freezer later.
Any person wanting to watch a DVD showing catching, skinning and boning a pig i have produced one and can be purchased through my web site.