1st. Time Butchering 1200 lb. Cow?


March 15, 2013, 06:25 PM
Any advice on what to look for in a butchering set... quality of the steel, shape, size etc. I don't mind spending a couple hundred $ on a good set that will hold up for my lifetime of game/cow butchering. I plan on using a sawsall & bandsaw for the bones. Any FYI advice would be appreciated!

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wild willy
March 15, 2013, 07:29 PM
My advice is to get somebody that knows how to do it to help you.The internet is not the best place to learn how to cut up beef.

March 15, 2013, 07:49 PM
Go to a butcher shop/restaurant supply house. You will get better cutlery there than you will at your big box stores. If nothing else you will get to see what you like and maybe you can buy it on line and save some money.
You will need a couple boning knives, a large slicing knife, a couple meat cutting knifes with 7-8 inch blades. Also a good steel and a diamond knife sharpening block, 4" x 10". A good cutting board is necessary also, I prefer wood.
My knives are "Old Hickory" brand [no longer available] that I inherited from my dad. They are good steel. I would steer away from stainless steel, they are hard to sharpen.

March 15, 2013, 08:29 PM
'Toiville2feathers', THANKS for the responses. We all have to start the learning process somewhere.... I'm buying the cow primarially for my 13 wk. old German Shepherd puppy. The butchering job doesn't need to be perfect but with your advice I'll stop by a chef supply store and demo a few of their cutlery products. Initially I was just going to buy a set from Cabelas etc.

I do have a thermostatically controled root seller, what would the ideal temp setting be for a Jersey cow, hanging, not heavily padded with fat?

Any suggestions on what/how to make use of the hide, it's a quite beautiful tawney brown...

March 15, 2013, 08:47 PM
36-38 degrees hung for 2-3 weeks, will be edible for a month at least.
Large carbon steel slicers like these
and your saws all. I'd use a hand held belt sharpener, I don't like steels to sharpen.

March 15, 2013, 08:56 PM
Steels don't sharpen, they hone. They don't remove metal and proper use will make your knives last longer than if you sharpen them every day.

March 15, 2013, 09:05 PM
Thanks 'Gordon', seems like a good place order some sharp knives from...

March 15, 2013, 09:21 PM
A 13 week old puppy isn't going to eat a 1200 # cow. He will be burying it and rolling in it when its rotten and stinks to high heaven. If the cow isn't sick, You better help him out. Save the tenderloins and back straps just like you would off a deer. Grind the hind quarters up into hamburger and let him have the rest IMHO.
Nothing wrong about jersey cow steak. That burger king cowboy can't even tell it from Angus. Been around cows all my life and I have yet to be able to tell if its angus or wombat when its ground into hamburger.

March 15, 2013, 09:32 PM
Well, 'Toiville2feathers', I'm told it's a 1200 lb cow so I can expect aprox. 550 lbs of meat if my butching skills are 1/2 adaquate. another couple hundred in bone weight, frozen, for the pup to chew on. If I vac-seal a good portion of it and wrap the rest I'm expecting to feed me and the pup for about a year, on a suplemental regeim.

wild willy
March 15, 2013, 09:33 PM
Are you going to kill it.I didn't mean to sound like a smart ass in my first answer but there is a lot more to it than cutting up a deer.I don't know your setup.Have you thought what you are going to do with the waste there will be a good bit of blood.Do you have a way to hang it.Amazon has F Dick boning knives. Yes they are stainless harder to sharpen than carbon steel but the ergogrip handles are a lot more comfortable for hours of cutting.Some like curved some like straight boning knives.Since your buying for a lifetime I'd get a couple of each.Sometimes it easier to just grab a sharp knife then to steel or sharpen one.

March 15, 2013, 09:46 PM
'Wild W' I've got a JD 81 hp tractor/bucket w/ hooks, and a spreading bar for the hocks. I was planning on just raising it up and working from the hind section down as it bled out. Thanks for the info on the boning knives, this slaughter is scheduled for the 30th, so this is why I'm doing my research/asking all these dumb questions... The farm the animal is on is 500 acres & they don't mind the blood or the guts. The liver, spleen, tongue, heart are mine.... or rather my GSD's!

wild willy
March 15, 2013, 09:54 PM
Its about as easy to roll it up on its back and prop it and skin the legs and skin down the belly before you pick it up.

March 16, 2013, 01:17 AM
Vtmtn.man don't you go feeding that dog the tongue, heart and liver. That some delicate flavorful eating.Best there is. Drop dead serious. Slice the heart thin, cook it with onions and add a couple tea spoons of bacon grease. The beef flavor is very rich. The tongue you boil, after about an hour and its done, skin it and slice it for sandwiches hot or cold another strong delicate beef flavor. And the liver cut it in half inch slices and fry with bacon and onions. be careful you don't over cook it or it gets tough. I like mine just past pink.
Did you know that when the indians had a good buffalo hunt and they killed a good number of buffalo they celebrated that evening with a feast, by cooking the hearts and the tongues. It was considered that special.

March 16, 2013, 01:38 AM
Lucky dog!

March 16, 2013, 01:41 AM
I grew up in a restraunt. Butcher steel can be expensive. Look for restraunt supply near you. Go there and ask for Russsel, Dexter, or sani safe knives. Three you will need are a scimatar for large cuts of muscle, two a butcher knife just like great great grandmas, a couple of boning knives 6" and an 8 or 10". Total price should be under $100 for all of them. Last power equipment for cutting bone is great if you have the capability and training to get all the surfaces and little crevices completly sanitised. Starting out just buy a boning saw you can clean and sterilise in the sink whenever you use it. The very simplest method is almost always the best. Last, if you can, find some one who has cut cattle before and buy enough beer to teach and show you hands on what to do.


March 16, 2013, 01:55 AM
I currently work in a slaughterhouse in central IL. Nearly all of the knives there are victorinox. They arent too expensive and seem to get the job done. However as others have said this is a big job to take on. There are a few hundred steps to fully butchering a cattle carcass. If youre using the bulk of the carcass for dog food then it makes it simpler but even so there will be a lot of work just to get the carcass ready for butchering. Make sure to save the choicest cuts for yourself, maybe save the hide to tan, and plan how you are going to dispose of the inedibles.
Before you start cutting, have a solid plan of what you are going to do and have all the supplies for processing, storage, and CLEANING available. There is going to be a lot of meat and other material to deal with, and a lot of different things you can do with it (jerky, beef bacon, ground beef, steaks, roasts).
Let us know what knives you go with and how it all goes.

March 16, 2013, 06:23 AM
This should last you a lifetime and more - http://www.diamondbladeknives.com/item.asp?id=37

March 16, 2013, 08:35 AM
Thanks 'hso' on the link, the knives might be out of what I'm willing to spend. 2-3 hundred is about my limit. Could you please qualify your other post about NOT dispatching a bovine from 50 -100 yds out with a hunting round? This would be my preferred method.

Fred Fuller
March 16, 2013, 02:27 PM
Or take a look at http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/kitchen/butcher-knives/c1961.aspx and http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/kitchen/boning-knives/c1955.aspx

Taking a quick look at their prices, for a couple hundred bucks you could get a drawer full of useful butchering knives from among their listings... skinning, boning, breaking, butcher, 10" or 12" slicer and a good steel...

Dexter-Russell will get you a lot of knife for not a lot of money, if you plan to use them in sanitizer soaking solution get the sani-safe ones. (http://www.dexter-russell.com/sani-safe.asp?group_name=sani-safe.asp)

March 16, 2013, 04:20 PM
... I'm buying the cow primarially for my 13 wk. old German Shepherd puppy. .
I know a guy who only fed his GSD home-cooked prime rib.. for thirteen years.
I'd just use a machete or ax. or feed it good kibble

March 16, 2013, 05:08 PM
The way I skin a deer is to saw off the leg bottoms, head, etc, and slice open from the main hide until every leg is open. Place a golf ball under the skin near the top, and tie a rope with a loop around the ball from the outside. Hang it up, attach the rope to a car, and drive away taking the skin with it. Not sure that would work for a beeve.

March 16, 2013, 08:59 PM
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B000M2R6C6 All you will ever need. There is no better bargain in the knife world.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B001GM4RBE if you must have stainless.

Either will serve you well and for beyond a lifetime.

If you want more equipment than just knives think about buying from LEM. They are the best source of meat processing gear I know. Here's a link to the Mundial knives they sell : http://www.lemproducts.com/product/3739/Knives

March 17, 2013, 01:19 AM
As far as your question of slaughtering method it would be best and easiest to use a small caliber pistol or 22 rifle to the brain, then immediately hoist the cow upside down and bleed it out. simple and quick, with less noise than using a full caliber rifle.

March 17, 2013, 11:41 AM
A standard .22 on a full sized cow must be surgically applied behind the ear from just the right angle and at almost muzzle contact. A .22 mag from a rifle is much better but I prefer something like a .44mag with 240 grain bullets or a .30 carbine with ball.you certainly want to hit between eye socket and ear hole with what ever. Between the eyes works but stay below the horn boss!:uhoh:

CA Raider
March 19, 2013, 01:04 AM
+1 on the idea of getting professional help.
butchering is an art.
it may cost you extra $$ - but the learning experience would be worth every penny.


Loc n Load
March 19, 2013, 05:59 PM
Having grown up on a farm and butchered cow, pigs, goats, chickens for 50 years.....you don't need any kind of fancy high end cutlery.....we used and still use carbon steel blades.....Chicago Cutlery types.....I have carbon steel blades that are 70-80 years old and have cut up hundreds of animals.....a good bone saw is in order.....blades that are 4 to 6 inches are plenty big.....I have a heavy cleaver that will cut thru anything you lay down on the block.....I field dress and butcher deer every year also, two of my most used knives is a Russell "Woods walker" & a Buck 110 folder....you won't need some of these knives that I see advertised that you could behead a water buffalo with, just some good steel blades, a whet stone, oil stone.
Good work table with paper, good meat grinder, wrapping paper, etc.....we butchered every year and my grandmother used everything in the pig except the "oink" and everything in the cow except the "moo".

March 19, 2013, 06:00 PM
A little off topic. Congrats on your pup. I have a 4 yo female, working lines bred, right at 95 lbs. With some basic training you will have a dedicated friend for life.
As a Schutzhund trainer once said to me, " GS are not the best at anything, but they are the second best at everything". My girl has a switch. When it is off she is quiet and cautious. When it is on she is a formidable opponent.
Enjoy your pup.


March 20, 2013, 02:09 PM
If he's just feeding it to his dog then just randomly chopping it into chunks should be good enough. There's not a lot of butchering expertise needed for that.

March 21, 2013, 10:58 AM
The local "processor" in my neck of the woods, was quite fond of Forschners, for some time, but began the quest for something with a bit more edge retention, I don't think he ever found the knives he was looking for before he retired, but I do know that for the money the Victorinox/Forschner kitchen knives are grand. Also Old Hickories are quite inexpensive, and sport 1095 carbon steel. They still make several useful, old school styles for processing, like the skinning knife, traditional butcher knives (several different sizes , even one with a 14" blade), cleavers, and even a sticker.

March 31, 2013, 04:39 PM
Thanks all, the job went off without a hitch. done within an hour...182145


March 31, 2013, 04:59 PM
Absolutely awesome. You have a very lucky pup!


April 1, 2013, 01:05 AM
Just looked at the photos . . . now I know what they mean by "a side of beef." Interesting. Guts are a bit revolting, though, lol. :barf:

April 1, 2013, 01:14 AM
Good job!:)

April 1, 2013, 08:25 AM
So tell us the details. What did you shoot it with and how did you split it?

April 1, 2013, 08:45 PM
I used a .410 slug above/between the eyes & split it with a sawsall. With a knife sharp enough to shave with, there's not much to it. Skinning was easy with the cow still warm, Interestingly when I got down to gutting it the heart was still twitching. Another useful tip is to have two pieces of cord & tie off both ends of the intestines everything just kinf of falls out nicely packaged. I have it hanging in the garage it's not getting up much above 40 and the nites are in the 20's so I should be ok for a week or so. Interestingly my GSD isn't going for the beef as fresh as it is, I wonder if this has something to do with her being used to stuff that's had time to cure?

April 1, 2013, 09:08 PM
Did she know the cow in question?

April 1, 2013, 09:21 PM
No never met the cow, & she was miles away for the butchering. I did save the hide and have is spread out w/ salt & she was very interested in the hide but didn't try to sneak any scraps or anything... My guess is that when I cut & wrap in a wk or so, it might well be a different story.

April 1, 2013, 09:35 PM
Try mixing it in with the food she is used to. Any animal needs adjustment to sudden changes in diet. Or maybe she's not very hungry. You could be over feeding. Reduce feedings by 50% or to once a day until her appetite returns. Pure meat is very concentrated nutrition, unlike commercial food that is vegetable and filler. Pound for pound pure meat will have more calories than rice/wheat blends, and take longer to digest.

Have you tasted it yet?

April 2, 2013, 12:29 PM
Been on the water almost continuously so just found this thread. Agree with all the recommended blade makers (my own are Forchner or Old Hickory). Wouldn't know anything about animals but have cut a lot of big fish over the years. Did recently see a video of butchering out a family cow on a show about Alaska (Alaska,the Last Frontier) that looked like a very practical routine. Looks like a lot of work even when you're skilled and organized. Interesting topic.

Lee D
April 4, 2013, 03:33 PM
when feeing both, or switching from a kibble diet to raw, its best to feed twice a day...kibble for one meal and the the raw for the second meal. don't feed them together, kibble digests at much slower rate and its best for the dogs health/digestion to avoid combining them in one feeding. I feed my dogs a raw diet (chicken quarters and necks, brown rice, a boiled veggie, a scoop of cottage cheese, either chicken gizzards or beef liver, and a raw egg every other day) and its amazing the differences you'll see in their coat, cleaner teeth and small stools.

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