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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meat processing

One of my coworkers at the University of Maryland research farm is a sheep and goat specialist. Last week I used my horse trailer to help her transport her research goats to the abattoir (processing plant) to have them slaughtered and the meat evaluated. Watching the first goat killed is rather gut-wrenching but you get use to it very quickly. A stun gun is used to desensitize them. It is humane and the animals do not suffer. The throat is then cut and the animal bleeds out. Then in about twenty minutes the animal is skinned and the entrails removed. The workers are very skilled. The carcasses are chilled down in a cooler and then later reduced to cuts of meat. Watching the goats processed from live animal to a carcass of meat was not pleasant but is was an educational experience that I would encourage others to take if the opportunity arises. I once heard Paul McCartney say that he became a vegetarian when he associated a lamb chop he was eating with a live animal. While I accept his viewpoint, I feel differently. Having experimented as a vegetarian for one year of my life and seeing my own chickens processed simply gives me a better appreciation for my food. I would encourage others to experiment likewise as you develop your own food philosophy.

3 comments:

aubryz said...

I feel exactly the same way. I was vegan for the better part of 12 years, and mostly because of the origins of food. I understand the natural order of the food chain but would not participate in the commercial industry's version of meat production. Now that I grow my own food and raise my own chickens I eat meat. It give saying grace a whole lot more meaning.

Shayne said...

How does the stun gun work?
Does the meat drain much blood while chilling in the cooler?

Dale Johnson said...

The stun gun uses a .22 cailber shell without the bullet to force a spike barely into the brain through the forehead. It knocks them completely out. The throut is then cut and the pumping heart forces all the blood out. By the time the animal is skinned and disemboweled, there is no bleeding from the carcass. The the most difficult thing to watch is the decapitation. But you get use to it after seeing a few done.