Butchering A Pig

We got our Tamworth piglet, Michelle, back in June and we slaughtered her this past weekend. (No graphics, don’t worry!)

Growing out the piglet was quite a bit of fun — we discovered that a Tamworth is very talkative and full of personality. She learned a few tricks while we had her, too. But our objective wasn’t to raise a pet pig.

A Tamworth is an old heritage breed that is rare in the US. The Tamworth, originating in the UK, is known to produce more meat and less fat, with a very good carcass yield. The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy says, “The Tamworth was traditionally considered a “bacon” breed, meaning that the pigs thrived on low energy foods but grew slowly. They produced meat and bacon that was lean and fine grained. The breed has an excellent carcass yield of up to 70% due to their fine bones creating a more productive meat to bone ratio for finished meat products.”

To grow out our Tamworth to a pork-producing pig, we fed her at least a half-gallon of fresh goat milk each day, mixed with a commercially-available organic pig chow. She was also fed alfalfa hay, organic oatmeal, along with some other grains, plus our garden scraps and table scraps.

We butchered the pig ourselves and cut the meat into shoulder roasts, hams, tenderloins, ribs, bacon, flanks, and ham steaks. We also cut meat for bacon and sausage.

We flavored some of our sausage using ground thyme, savory, fresh ground pepper, salt, and crushed bay. We also made sausage that was flavored with rubbed sage, fresh ground pepper, and salt. We used crushed red peppers to spice up a few pounds that we’ll use in Italian dishes.

We measured out 15 pounds of sausage that were made into patties for breakfasts. The rest of the sausages were processed into 1-pound packages.

Later today, we will begin to cure the bacon. There isn’t a great deal of lard on a Tamworth, but we collected what we could, so this week, I will render the lard. Outside…

All of the fresh, organic pork we butchered from our Tamworth was well worth the time and money.  We can cure without nitrites or other nasty chemicals. We can spice with our own blended herbs that we grew on our homestead. And best of all, we know what our meat consists of. Next year, we plan to get several piglets for our homestead and we’ll pasture them instead of using a confined pig pen.

For more about raising a pig for meat, the Sugar Mountain blog is filled with first-class pig-talk!

5 thoughts on “Butchering A Pig

  1. Congratulations on raising your own pork and especially on butchering Michelle yourselves….that must have been a bit of work. If we ever raised pigs again I think I would attempt do the same.

  2. I wonder if pigs know how good they taste? I can honestly say,I’ll miss Michelle. Especially the uncanny resemblance in both looks and actions she had with the jet setting Michelle.

  3. Great Write up on the your time raising and butchering out Michelle, I choose the large black pig breed to raise and now breed a litter or two, not just because they are a nice tempermented breed, and will in fact graze but because they like to pack on the fat, which means that I will have lots of lard to render out. look forward to hearing about the new piggy’s next year!

    • Hi Carolyn. Tamworths have a great personality, don’t they? It’s nice to meet up with someone who knows the breed — how long were you breeding them? This year we had 2 pigs to fatten, a Tamworth-Duroc cross. The gilt was just butchered last week and the barrow will be butchered in a few weeks when we have time. I thought he’d be lonely but hes doing well on his own.

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