butch-goat-art - 7/14/98
"Butchering a Live Goat, for (and by) Beginners, or What I Learned on my Holiday" by Charles McCathieNevile.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 15:03:52 +1000 (EST)
From: Charles McCathieNevile <charlesn at sunrise.srl.rmit.edu.au>
Subject: SC - Butchering for beginners
An article from Nordmannia...
Butchering a Live Goat, for (and by) Beginners, or What I Learned on my
Warning. This contains pretty graphic descriptions of nasty things
happening. You might like to skip this page if you are not actually
interested. It is an explanation of how to prepare a live goat for
eating, based on a single (successful) effort, from catching the goat to
cooking it, with a bit of unpleasant stuff happening in between.
You have been warned...
By way of introduction, let me explain my feelings about eating meat. I
am all for it. I enjoy it immensely. I also feel that it is dishonest
somehow to eat meat but not recognize that it is the result of killing
something. Meat IS murder, but if God hadn't meant us to eat animals, he
wouldn't have made them out of meat.
Recently I found myself in Darwin, with a group of people lined up to come
to a feast, a goat organised by our hosts, who had gone to a lot of
trouble to convince someone to give it to us, but no butcher in sight (the
goat was at this stage wandering around the yard of its owner). Several
people gave advice, or thoughtful suggestions, but nobody wanted to do the
deed. This included me, since I had only ever killed ducks and shellfish
before, both of which are relatively easy - especially shellfish - they
donŐt look at you, or say anything. And I hadn't actually enjoyed doing
that. But as the person responsible for the feast I figured that meant
making sure there was meat on the table. So here is what I did, and how I
First catch the goat. The important thing here is to have it in a small
space, rather than run it down for miles and miles. If it gets the
adrenaline pumping the meat will be tough - if it is frightened for a
couple of hours it will make a dog sick. I had been told that you could
shoot it in the head, but I know nothing much about guns, and didn't have
one. Cutting its throat was going to be the way. I had also been told
that this could be done by thrusting the knife through the neck and
cutting outwards, but this seemed a dicey technique, relying on a sharp
knife, a good point, and good aim. Instead I ensured my knife was
razor-sharp (literally, and it is important), lay the goat on its side,
on the ground, held its front legs and body in place with my knees/legs,
all the while talking to it and trying to relax it.
When I had thanked the goat and felt very brave, i pulled its head back by
the mouth, and cut across its throat like I imagined from the movies. The
important thing was to make sure the cut went right to the bone, all the
way from one side of the neck to the other. That way the major blood
vessels and windpipe are all severed in one go. It means the goat won't
cry anymore, which is pretty important (to me anyway). At this point
relaxing the goat is still important. In a short while the heart stops,
there is no breathing, and no more movement. At this point you need to
hang the carcass by the back legs, to drain out the blood, and the
contents of the throat. End of Stage one.
Stage two - getting off the skin.
I was told a pretty nifty trick by the person who had owned the goat. Cut
the skin around the legs (roughly at the knees), and insert an air-pump,
like you would use to blow up a football, between the skin and the meat.
The air pressure will help to separate the skin from the body. (When I
buy an icy-pole, i tear the top off the packet, and blow in it, so the
paper doesn't stay stuck to the icypole and comes off easy. This is the
same.) When actually skinning it, start at the back - cut the skin around
the legs, and then connect the two cuts, going across the back and around
both sides of the anus. As you peel the skin back, use a small, sharp
knife to cut away the connective tissues, and ensure the no strips of
meat come away with it. I peeled the skin off almost to the front legs (I
had to cut away the testicles and associated pieces) before I slit it
down the stomach - the hair is thickest on the back, but the leather is
softest on the front - if you want to make parchment, slit it down the
back perhaps - and then I cut around the front legs, carried those cuts
to the gap in the throat, and peeled the skin across the back of the neck
as far as the ears. Rub the skin down thoroughly with salt and keep it,
then cut off extra pieces of skin which are on the body (don't worry
about the lower legs unless you were really keen to eat those bits...)
End of Stage two.
Stage three - preparing it for the spit.
This is an icky bit. The important thing to keep in mind is that if you
cut open the stomach, or one of the little gooey things, you, your goat,
and everything else could be rapidly covered in unpleasant, smelly stuff
you don't really want to know about. (Nuff said) For this you need a
small, sharp knife and a lot of care. The first thing is to make a small,
shallow incision in the stomach. I am assuming the goat is still hanging
by its back legs, which means you start it at the top (rear end), just
forward of the pubic bone (pelvis bit). If the incision is more than zero
millimetres deep you risk cutting the stomach lining as well as the
flesh, with unpleasant consequences. While you are doing it, stand to one
side of the body.
Place your fingers gently inside the cut, pushing the stomach, which will
be warm and heavy, away from the flesh, and slowly extend the incision
until it reaches the sternum (breast-bone). The first bit to get out is
the intestinal tract. A bit of judicious manipulation before you start
will ensure that each end has no contents when you cut it away, which is a
Good Thing (TM). Before you cut it off atthe ends, make sure you have
seperated it from along the spine, and from the liver - it will usually be
attached by lumps of fat. Let all this drop onto a sack or something. If
you want to make sausages, keep it, stick a hose in one end, and clean it
up. Otherwise, bury it deeper than the dog will dig...
You now have a liver, Be careful - there is some nasty bladder bit
connected, which you need to cut off without puncturing after you have
taken the liver out. It is connected near the spine - cut it off. When
you have removed the bladder bit you will want to check the liver and
make sure there are no little worms in it - squeeze it out like a sponge.
Put the liver aside, and cook with butter, garlic and herbs.
Leave the kidneys in, and make up your own mind about the testicles. I
had a male goat, but I suspect for a female you should just take all the
girly bits out. With a bit of care you will now be able to cut out the
anus from the outside. Throw it away.
The next thing you run into is te diphragm. In a goat this is a very thin
membrane, which you need o cut through, Then you find the lungs and
heart. Cut these out and keep them with the liver.
Now you want to chop off the head, or at least ensure that the windpipe
has been completely severed. You can then pull it out throught the chest.
(I chopped the head off short - it took several blows with the machete to
do, but made cooking neater)
Now the animal is ready for the spit. Take a sapling about two inches
thick, sharpen it at one end, and put that end first through the hole
where the anus was, and then guide it through the windpipe area, where it
will be held by the sternum. Use tie-wire (for a goat) or something
heavier (for a heavier animal) to secure it to the stick at a couple of
pointts along the spine, and tie the legs close to the spit.
You now need two fires - one for burning wood into coals (unless you have
charcoal) and one for the coals to cook your beast. The animal should be
a foot or so above the fire, which should not be flaming. You will need
to watch it, particularly for the first hour or so, to ensure that
dripping fat does not cause flames to catch the animal - if it catches
fire it will burn away in about six or seven minutes. It only needs to be
turned about every hour, and should only need three or four turns for the
whole thing - maybe two goes on each 'face', and it should be done. Allow
about 6 hours for the cooking, and make sure that the coals do not either
die out, or get too active. Leaving a bucket of water beside it for
emergency dousing, and keeping a lazy eye on it, should be fine.
The fire should be concentrated at each end - when the back is closest
put some more coals in the middle to cook the fillets, but otherwise it
can be two piles of coals, at each end, where the meat is thickest. If
you re not ratating it much the fire should be a little less vigorous
than for an elctric spit with constant rotation, but you need to leave
each side to cook properly rather than constantly turning it.
When the meat seems ready, serve away. Most of the meat will be in the
fillets, shoulders, and around the hind legs. There is also good meat on
Charles McCathieNevile, June 1998 (c) charlesn at srl.rmit.edu.au
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Date: Wed, 24 Jun 1998 08:41:12 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Par Leijonhufvud <parlei at algonet.se>
Subject: Re: SC - Butchering for beginners
On Wed, 24 Jun 1998, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:
> Actually, I'd recommend geting a professional. It's not fun. And I'm not
> an expert - I did it once, and thought I'd tell what happened to me.
I can only think of three things to add to your description:
* I was taught to tie off the digestive system in both ends before
removing it, since this reduces the chance of tainting the meat.
* If you want to save the hide be very carefull about how you skin
it: many hides are ruined by "hack and slash" type skinning. In many
cases it is possible to just pull the hide off, with no use of a
* If you leave the outer membrane on the meat intact (as in e.g. just
pulling the hide off, rather than cutting) it will recieve less
attention from flies and suchlike while hanging.
(oh, and lanolin does *not* improve the taste of mutton ;-)
Par Leijonhufvud parlei(at)algonet.se