From Pig to Pork: The Slaughter

May 6th, 2010
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As part of my butchery project, I attended “From Pig to Pork” hosted by Fleisher’s. There we witnessed the transition from animal to meat and the prep that takes it from the farm to our table. I’ll be posting with observations about experience both at the farm and in the shop. Just a heads up, some of the photos are pretty graphic. The point here is to appreciate the value of the process through potentially challenging images, not to gross anyone out, so feel free to skip this post if it’s not your thing.
I’ve been putting off posting about the actual slaughter part of From Pig to Pork for a little while now. Not because it was life-changing or traumatic or anything. It was actually quite fast. Hans, a retired Master Butcher from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) walked into the small horse trailer that the pig had spent the night and shot it.
We didn’t see the pig before that. Most likely for both our benefit and the pig’s, Hans left the door to the pig’s compartment closed when killing it. He was concerned about people freaking out about the whole thing and decided to deal with that part of it behind closed door.
Similarly, I’ll leave the details of the deed for after the jump.


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When killing, Hans targets a point in the back of the head that allows the bullet to go right through and severs the nervous system, leading to immediate brain death. The body takes a few minutes to get the memo. It spasmed and knocked around for a moment in the trailer before being dragged out. After that it twitched a bit and eventually stopped.
Part of the reason for this method is to keep the heart pumping long enough to clear the blood out of the veins. More on that in another day or two.
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Once drained, they dragged the pig to the nearest tree where it could be hoisted up for the rest of the preparation.

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