Deboning A Pig

Deboning a Pig

Usually one quarters the pig and then makes up the cuts from there. But my cut sheet called for boneless shoulder, boneless chops and boneless sirloin so I did it a little bit differently last week on one of the pigs. I simply removed the bones first making it much easier and efficient to do the cuts. This also resulted in more high-on-the-hog cut weight per pig increasing the income from each pig.

This article originally appeared back in early January 2016 but was lost by my web hosting company when their servers crashed, burned and took the backup RAID disks with it. I’m working to recreate the lost articles.

Pig without Spine, Pelvis or Ribs

Ta-da! The results. There actually are a couple of bones left in this pig when the photo was taken – the front leg bones. I removed those next.

It was very fast and an interesting technique. With practice I could see this improving my speed as well as yield. This method left me with most of the bones still together making for a larger rack of ribs. If I was working without a bandsaw this would definitely be the way to go. Years ago I did this with sheep for our home table as I had no saw. Once fully deboned the whole pig could be also stuffed and rolled up for a very nice roast.

You may notice the headphones. Big and bulky they are. They protect my ears from the sound of the bandsaw – I like my hearing – and let me listen to music as I work. December was, quite appropriately, playing as I did this pig in the last week of the year.

Outdoors: 19°F/-11°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 52°F/61°F

Daily Spark: Does a bear shit in the woods? Not if the EPA can help it!

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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20 Responses to Deboning A Pig

  1. Mike says:

    Great photo on this post, Walter, but shouldn’t the figure caption
    read “Pig without Spine, Pelvis or Ribs”?

  2. aminthepm says:

    Like the daily spark, have to be city slickers with no rural experience.

  3. Farmerbob1 says:

    Interesting, Walter.

    Have you considered how much smaller your coolers could be for shipping ‘pig-rollups’ ? Your shipping costs would probably go down if the container size is reduced and the mass of the bones is no longer present. Not sure if it would be worth the extra labor for shipping. Not sure if your customers would appreciate having to thaw the pig and unroll it before cutting it.

    • Many people who buy our pork shipped do it boneless to save the cost of shipping the bones. A few people want all the oddments and get the entire pig, bones, trotters, skin and all – but butchered to cuts of course since shipping an entire finisher size pig (180 to 250 lbs) is rather difficult. People who are buying mail order generally (almost always, okay, always I think…) want the pig all butchered to cuts and ready to pull out of the freezer for cooking meals. They’re not looking to do their own butchering.

  4. Julia says:

    I would guess your dogs are huge fans of this method of pork processing!

    • Aye, they’re big fans of farming and on-farm butchering. However, there is actually less waste going to them and the chickens now that I’m using this method – a benefit in addition to the faster speed I’m finding I’m getting this way. One of the inspectors said they had never seen it done this way before. I also do it the traditional quartering method for some pigs. It all depends on what cuts I’m aiming for.

      • Farmerbob1 says:

        Have you provided any of the deboned-first cuts to the restaurants you provide pork to? Any comments from those chefs on this method of processing? I know some high end cuts of meat are cut in specific ways for culinary reasons that would probably just make my eyes cross. I’d be curious what they think about it.

  5. Peter says:

    Not being a butcher myself….so other than having a larger rack of spare ribs and/or baby-backs, what happens with the rest of the bones? Is there sufficient take-up from your restaurant clients for example for you to save it in quantity?

    Interestingly one of the local restaurants near my old office is doing a butchering demo next week (on lamb), but when I asked they told me there was not any hands-on planned. Which bums me out because if I’m going to pay ~$15/lb for a share that may total ~50-60 pounds, I’d like to do some actual cutting.

    • Since I’ve been cutting the bones into segments they’ve been selling out almost every week. This is one of the things that has increased our sell through yield since I’ve taken over the butchering here at our own on-farm butcher shop. Previously the bones came back whole from the butcher and didn’t sell well. Restaurants and home cooks don’t have the equipment for chopping up the bones, a bandsaw, so they didn’t want to buy them as much. By chopping the bones up I expose the marrow which improves the results in making stews, soups and such. I can do the chopping up fairly quickly since we have a very nice meat bandsaw in our butcher shop – not something most people have at home.

  6. Jason says:

    Do you ever do video? This would make a great video. Intrested in seeing it. Maybe upload it to “Pastured Pigs” on FB :)

  7. Servius says:

    “… when their servers crashed, burned and took the backup RAID disks with it. ”

    How does that happen!? Both the main and the backups! AND either several of the RAID disks went down AT THE SAME TIME or they had it configured in such a way that only one going down would kill the array!

    Sorry for geeking out here. You may now resume your regularly scheduled farm blog. :)

  8. David Lloyd Sutton says:

    I suspect that your providers had their RAID array(s) on the same console, or even just in the same space, and we are talking about actual fire. Hope they learn from the disaster. REAL firewalls have their place in IT.

    I’ve been thinking about dedicating a terrabyte-sized external hard drive to copying your blog posts. Anticipating your putting together books at some point, of course, but the body of information you’ve penned (or keyboarded) is truly impressive/unique and it would be a crying shame if it became unavailable. Always thankful for it, Walter.

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