For animal lovers like us, the slaughtering process is very important. We want to make sure that our animals have a complete, humane life cycle from birth to harvest
Q: Who does your slaughtering?
In order to safely resell our meat, we are required to use a USDA certified slaughterhouse. This ensures that there is an impartial, government-paid inspector observing our animals from the time they arrive on the hoof until they are picked up in the packages. We are very careful to ensure that our animals have a quick and low stress end to a happy, healthy life.
As farmers who care about humanely raising animals, we are pleased to work closely with processors who care passionately about humanely processing animals. We use two USDA certified slaughterhouses that are family owned and operated. Both are committed to the humane kill process and ensure a quick and painless death. We are connected to our slaughterhouse and they are committed to excellence for the animals and the process. . When you are enjoying a pork chop or steak, it is a credit to the happiness of life that our animals enjoyed as well as the humane processing and quality butchering.
How do you take your animals to slaughter?
We often truck them ourselves. Rich and I will load on the farm and transport them to slaughter. Okay – truth be told, since Kim bent the axle on a previous livestock trailer, Rich does not want her to drive the livestock trailer. Occasionally we will collaborate with other farmers and have them transport for us. In all cases our animals are safely and comfortable loaded and transported to slaughter in a livestock trailer.
Once the animals arrive at the USDA slaughterhouse, the inspector comes to the trailer and ensures our animals are healthy. They are then off-loaded to a pen adjacent to the kill floor. They are then stunned and killed. The inspector looks at the carcass and once again determines that the animal is healthy, free of any disease and good to eat. The inspector will then stamp the carcass with the number. You may have received a cut of meat with what looks like ink on the side of the carcass. This is actually a federally required stamp of approval for the animal.
Can I get bones? Blood? Cow Feet? Liver? Kidney?
There are different laws in USDA slaughterhouses about what can leave the plant and what cannot, there are also practices that differ from slaughterhouse to slaughterhouse. In general we do have all internal organs (heart, kidney, liver) available from processing our animals. We also have pig trotters, but each of these pieces costs us time and packaging fees. We offer these in our $1 bin at CSA share distributions to members on a first come, first served basis (we often include bacon ends in here too). We occasionally sell bones and organs at farmers markets. We do NOT offer blood.
How do you know when the animals are ready to be processed?
We generally send our animals to slaughter based on weight and age. Our cows tend to be 25 to 30 months and weigh about 1000 lbs, our lambs are six to nine or ten months old and our goal is for them to weigh 100 lbs. We raise our pigs to what is called market weight in about seven months. Market weight for a hog is about 245 to 255 lbs. Like people, each animal grows at a different rate. Our chickens reach market weight in nine weeks in the summer but it takes closer to 12 in the winter. Finally our turkeys enjoy pasture, fresh air and sunshine for 16 to 18 weeks each fall.
Can we buy a whole or half animal from you?
At this time we are not selling whole or half animals. We have plans to offer a very limited number of goats this year by the whole, but in general we do our CSA and cuts at the farmers markets. Please check out our community connections for farms that do offer whole and/or half animals. Please support other local farmers if this is what you are looking for.
Do you think you will ever slaughter on your farm?
In a word; NO. The USDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) heavily regulate the processing and sale of what they term potentially hazardous products (PHP). This includes meat and dairy, but generally not vegetables or other shelf stable foods. Thus, we are subject to a host of laws and regulations at the federal level to ensure a safe product for you. We also maintain temperature throughout product transport until it reaches our shareholders hands and would never, ever want to compromise the level of food safety and security offered by a USDA slaughterhouse. In other words – we do a great job raising animals and they do a great job processing them.