Boning out a sheep

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.

Sheep covered with a Ridgeline meat bag. Great for keeping flies off the meat.

Sheep covered with a Ridgeline meat bag. Great for keeping flies off the meat.

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.

pic showing three different sections of the sheep

pic showing three different sections of the sheep

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.

Where to cut a hand hold on the forequarter.

Where to cut a hand hold on the forequarter.

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.

Hold the rib when cutting the forequarter loss

Hold the rib when cutting the forequarter loss

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.
IMG_2576Once 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.

Cut down both sides of the spine

Cut down both sides of the spine

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.
IMG_2580When 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.

cut the joint and open up the blade bone

cut the joint and open up the blade bone

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.
IMG_2583

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.

Bone removed from forequarter

Bone removed from forequarter

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.

The fat and Gland that need to be removed from the forequarter

The fat and Gland that need to be removed from the forequarter

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. IMG_2592Where 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.

Opening up the back legs off the H bone

Opening up the back legs off the H bone

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.

Twist the tenderloins out leaving the fat and skin behind

Twist the tenderloins out leaving the fat and skin behind

Small bone to be cut around

Small bone to be cut around

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. IMG_2599With the back leg I normally slash bone them and take each individual cut out.

Removing the back steak

Removing the back steak

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.

Slash boning the back leg

Slash boning the back leg

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.

meat all bagged up ready use. Don't forget to write the date on the bags.

meat all bagged up ready use. Don’t forget to write the date on the bags.

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.

Avoiding sows and targeting Boars

The majority of pig hunters would rather catch a nice boar rather than a sow. The reason for this is that we understand the importance of keeping our hunting areas stocked up with wild game. By killing sows we are also killing our own sport. When a sow breeds in the wild they normally have between 5 – 7 piglets in a litter so for every sow that we kill we are also killing off the potential pigs that she could have. On the other hand a boar can mate with many sows so it only takes one boar in an area to breed with a lot of sows. Another thing that deters hunters from targeting sows is that they can not put up as much of a fight compared to a boar as they do not have tusks to defend themselves. Every now and then we hear of hunters saying that they have a dog that targets the boars. These dogs would be the envy of a lot of hunters. What a lot of hunters don’t understand is how to train their dog to just target those boars.
I hope to answer this question here.
What I see a lot of hunters do is first not have the proper control over their dogs so that when they get onto a pig the dogs do not listen to their owners. This is the first problem the second issue is that a lot of hunters just don’t think about releasing the sows. What this does is teaches your dogs to catch everything. If you have your dogs under good command so that they listen to you when they are on a pig and they are only bailing rather than holding the pig then all the hunter needs to do is call their dog off any sow that they catch. Dogs are cleaver animals and they soon work out what animal that you are after. This is not to say that if you are out hunting and the only animal around is a sow that your dogs will not bail it up. When I put my dogs into the training block they know that they are not allowed to touch a sow our a young pig. By doing this regularly the dogs start to understand what it is that you want. At present I have a sow in the block that was born in their and she has had a litter of seven piglets, one of those piglets had died at a time when their were no dogs in the block but the other six piglets are doing well and are in the block while any dog training is going on. When these piglets were just born Fog tracked over to them and gave two barks as I closed in on him he was standing back watching the sow and piglets and waiting for me, no harm done. Whenever I am training in the block and the sow is with another pig the dogs will always target the boar so that if the pigs split up I now that they will always leave the sow alone and catch the boar. I also have a wild sow in the block that I had caught and kept in my cattle yards for two months before she escaped and found her own way into the pig block. This sow is heavily pregnant and looking like she is due to drop a litter in the next couple of weeks. Since the wild sow has been in the block not one of the dogs have bailed her up.
In this attached piece of footage I had three dogs in the block a while back when Breeze was still alive. What happens is Lightning and a training dog tracked across to the opposite face where there is a sow and a boar in the scrub. When Lightning sees the sow break out he steps back as soon as he realises that it is actually the sow while the training dog takes of after her. The sow only moves fifty meters up the hill and when she stops the training dog steps back as if not sure what to do and is wondering why Lightning is not following. While this is happening Breeze has tracked across and puts the boar up just below where the sow had broken out of. The boar runs up the hill towards the sow. At this stage you can see how much slower Breeze is than the other training dog yet the training dog slows down because it is still not sure of what it is allowed to do, it is only Breeze barking behind them that keeps the training dog chasing but not stopping, with the dogs in behind the boar diverts off to the pine trees. As soon as Lightning heard the first bark he went out wide as if he knew which way the boar was going to run and tried to cut him off before he got into the pines but did not quite get there quick enough and the dogs bailed the boar in the pines.
The way that Lightning has gone wide on this pig is something that I have seen a number of times now that we have GPS’s. I believe that the dogs are clever enough to work out which way the boar is going to break and they get around in front of the animal which confuses the boar. Last week Fog went out wide to stop the 188 pound boar. If we were to put ourselves in this same situation and we had a dog tracking us knowing that it is going to attack us we would run like hell. Yet if all of a sudden a dog appeared in front of us we would have to think very fast as to what our next move is going to be so if that dog is cleaver enough to stand back and growl at us we only have two options to either try and run away from that dog risking running back into the other dog that is tracking us our stand our ground while we clear our thoughts. Checkmate

Jerry Homan and John Baxter

Boris getting a run around

Boris getting a run around

Jerry and John had travelled over from Wesport to get their three dogs onto some pigs. One of the dogs Ben was a big powerful dog that had a bit of an attitude problem. Because he has only had a bitch around he has not learnt to interact with other male dogs and just wants to become aggressive towards them. Because he was wearing a muzzle a lot of the time he could be controlled using the electric collar. I was pleased to see that my dogs did not try and fight back.

Ben and Fog barking at Digger

Ben and Fog barking at Digger

For our first run we just took Ben and Bess into Mr Pigs area. We had trouble getting these two dogs to bark so I went and let Fog out. Even with Fog in there the dogs were not that keen, I think it was still just a bit to hot. Later on when it finally started to cool down I put Lightning into the block and got him to chase the white boar. This got both Fern and Bess keen and we had a good run until it became to dark to see what was happening. When we got back down to the hut we noticed that Fern was limping on her right front leg and by next morning there was no way that we could put her back into the block.

Ben, Lightning and Bess bailing the white boar and showing him plenty of respect.

Ben, Lightning and Bess bailing the white boar and showing him plenty of respect.

We walked up the gully for our first run of the day with Fog Bess and Ben. We had Ben on a rope to keep him under control but once Fog and Bess were bailing Jerry was just about getting his arm pulled off as Ben really wanted to get to that pig. Finally I said that he could let Ben go as he was wearing a muzzle and it was Boris that the other two dogs had. Ben was very full on but because of the muzzle no one was getting hurt. Boris just would not stand still with the amount of pressure that he had on him but this was good to keep the dogs sticking with him.

Ben and the white boar down in the creek

Ben and the white boar down in the creek

At one stage I had called Fog into heel and left the other two dogs on Boris until they lost interest in him and let him walk away. At this point I sent Fog away again to go and bail him up. Boris had run up the fence line past the house and then back into the creek high up where Fog bailed him again. Bess did make it down and join in but Ben stayed with us 100 meters away. After Fog had bailed for a couple of minutes I called the dogs off as they had been on Boris for about an hour. As the dogs were coming back Digger decide to come and visit Ben so we got us another quick bail before giving the dogs a well earned break.

Ben, Lightning and Bess bailing just before I broke this boar for the last time. It was starting to heat up and the dogs and boar had had enough by then.

Ben, Lightning and Bess bailing just before I broke this boar for the last time. It was starting to heat up and the dogs and boar had had enough by then.

On our last run I got Lightning to single out the white boar again and he made it look so easy even with the white sow running with him for a start. This was a great run with Bess and Ben getting right into the bailing and showing plenty of respect the the white boar. By the time we called the dogs out of this run they had been on him for over 90 minutes and Ben was really focused on his job, he did not try going in for a hold but showed the boar a lot of respect and really excelled on this run. When we were finished with the pigs we took the dogs for a run beside the ute to the top of the hill so that they could see some sheep and they showed no interest in them.

South Island Ridgeline judging team

Sian showing us all how to run the new program she has made for judging animals at comps

Sian showing us all how to run the new program she has made for judging animals at comps

Each year our judging team have one big get together, this year it was up at my new house in the Te Moana gorge. We had managed to get most of our judge’s along as well as Linda Cameron who is the owner of Ridgeline and Jacqueline who is responsible for the day to day running of Ridgeline. It was a very relaxed atmosphere with a few drinks and a BBQ.

Andy Moriarty showing us how to shot clay's, my son Sloan firing them off

Andy Moriarty showing us how to shot clay’s, my son Sloan firing them off

It was a good chance to have a meeting to see that we all know what out jobs are and any thing that we wanted to change could be talked about. Sain has written up a program that we can use at our comps. This program works out biggest animals and average weights and different animals so this should be a good tool for the years to come. Up until this year we have charged $2 per entry to cover our fuel costs on the day. We have had to raise this to $2.50 this year. Ridgeline are very generous with their sponsorship at any comp and supply us with any thing that we may need from the tags that we put on each animal that comes in to the gazebo.

Bryce and Phill with their boar

Bryce and Phill with their boar

Pig hunting comps can buy Ridgeline clothing for 40% of the recommended retail price RRP and use these I as their prizes. We have a good line up of judges in our team with many years of hunting experience between them. I have made a point of getting judges from different parts of the South Island so that we don’t have to travel to far for each comp. We Have Peter Layall and Straty from Tapawera near the top of the South, Andy and Jo Moriarty and Matt Simmons from Waiau, myself Bill Westwood and my son Bryce from Geraldine, Craig Gibb and Sian Waters from Oamaru and Richard Hand, Tony Hogg and Phill Simonson from Dunedin.

The Ridgeline teamBryce, Phill, Jacqueline, Linda hidden behind the pig Janice and Richard then Jo, Matt, Sloan, Sian and Craig

The Ridgeline team Bryce, Phill, Andy, Jacqueline, Linda hidden behind the pig Janice and Richard then Jo, Matt, Sloan, Sian and Craig

This gives us 12 judges spread out across the South. Another thing that Ridgeline are running is New Zealanders biggest boar, to be eligible to enter clubs can register with Ridgeline or at any comp that ridgeline are judging are eligible. The other way to enter is for any hunter that is lucky enough to catch one of these big fella’s they can weigh them in with any one of our judges through out New Zealand.
Once our meeting was over we had a turn at shooting some clays which was a lot of fun. We had a big night as I remember crawling into bed at 3.30 am.

Jacqueline and Linda two peoplke that are right behind supporting the sport of pig hunting

Jacqueline and Linda two woman that are right behind supporting the sport of pig hunting

At 6.30 I was back up cleaning up when Bryce came driving back up the drive as he was keen to get out for a quick hunt with anyone that wanted to go with him for a walk. He could only talk Phil into tagging along. While we were sitting around having breakfast we could watch their progress on the tracking gear. It did not take to long for the Fog, Phil’s dog Billy and Dusky to track away and bail up in a far away gully. Bryce’s superior fitness left Phil away behind. Phil said he was 700 meters behind Bryce when he heard the gun go off.

Bryce's finger where the dead boar got him

Bryce’s finger where the dead boar got him

Richard and Matt drove around the road so Bryce only had to roll his boar 80 meters down the hill to the road. Bryce did have one accident when he was trying to get the boar through a fence it flicked around and sliced his finger open with the pigs tusks, bad enough for a visit to the doctors. Also his bitch Dusky received a bad rip in the back leg. Because he was close to the road they brought this boar back with his guts in so that we could weigh it with the stomach in as well as out. With the stomach in it weighed 223 pounds but once it was gutted it weighed 188 pounds Bryce’s and Phill’s biggest pig so far this year. This was a great way to top off a great get together with the Ridgeline team. We also did manage to get a couple of young dogs into the pig block for some extra work.

Richard with Phill's dog Jen getting some training

Richard with Phill’s dog Jen getting some training

Nice easy pig released

boar calm and relaxed at the bail

boar calm and relaxed at the bail

I was planning on giving the dogs a walk but had only walked 200 meters when I saw Lightning putting his nose to the ground and take off tracking. When Lightning was down in the gully he stopped moving for about a minute before he put up two barks but they did not sound urgent, as if he had a sow or a young pig there. A minute later I spotted him tracking up out the other side of the gully but I could not see a pig. Fog had gone through this gully a little lower down.

Dogs bailing just before being called off

Dogs bailing just before being called off

As the two dogs tracked over into the next gully they were together and moving away from me. I still had Jeff and Thunder with me so I turned around and headed back to the motor bike. As I was riding around the road I noticed that the two dogs had a pig bailed just above the road. As soon as I turned the bike off Jeff and Thunder heard the other two and headed for them. I had stopped the bike just around the corner from the dogs as I did not want to upset their bail. As the two new dogs hit the pig broke down onto the road. I thought that I was getting some good footage until I discovered later I had turned the camera on and off to quick and did not record this part. The action moved off a couple of meters into the creek where I got plenty of footage. Two of the dogs were wearing muzzles Lightning and Fog. I noticed that Lightnings muzzle had come off so I called all of the dogs into heel and let this young 80 pound boar live for another day. At the time of this hunt I did not need any more meat for my freezer I just wanted to get the dogs and myself out for a walk.

Jeff about to move the cows back around the road towards home

Jeff about to move the cows back around the road towards home

On the way back home I managed to round up some of my cows using Jeff with the pig dogs sitting back watching. This is always good training getting dogs to watch other dogs doing a job that they themselves are not allowed to do. This definitely helps with stock training.

New pups

 

Ruby and her pups

Ruby and her pups

Recently I wrote an article about Fog going to be a dad. Well those pups were born two weeks ago. the mother Ruby had ten pups and they are all very healthy and growing well. I have picked out a boy pup that is mostly white with a black spot on his side and one on his head. The reason for choosing this pup was mainly for the color. by having dogs that look different it is easier to know which dog you are looking at from a distance.

10 pups fill up this clothes basket and they where only ten days old

10 pups fill up this clothes basket and they where only ten days old

Because of his color he has been named Snow. There are still three bitches from this litter left so if any hunters are looking for a new pup contact Hayden Manson

My next new pig dog will be ready to pick up in three weeks time

My next new pig dog will be ready to pick up in three weeks time

on 0276929300

pick me

pick me

I could be yours

I could be yours

One of the three pups left for sale

One of the three pups left for sale