WARNING: this post contains lots of Graphic Photos of Goat Butchering
If graphic photos of goat butchering offend you, or make you ill, please go no further. If it makes you mad that we eat goat meat from goats we raised humanely, but you eat “meat from the store”, go no further. If you are a vegetarian of some sort, that’s your choice, and I’m not sure why you’re reading this…?
But, if you can identify with wanting to raise your own healthy and delicious meat humanely and affordably, and would like to learn to butcher a goat yourself, then read on, and high five!
Butchering a Goat
We butcher anywhere from 1 to 3 goats a year and are looking to increase that number starting this year. So, last August, I bred our registered Nubian dairy goats to a Boer buck, planning to use the resulting kids for meat, rather than selling registered Nubian doe kids, and just butchering the males.
There are several reasons we butcher our own goats:
Goat meat is delicious and healthy.
Goat meat is too expensive at the store.
Store bought goat meat is very unlikely to come from happy, healthy, free range goats.
AND, it’s hard for me to sell my registered Nubian kids each year because finding a buyer who will care for them properly is very difficult, and there are no guarantees. I’ve had some very upsetting bad experiences in this area.
Ok, so that’s WHY we do it. Now, on to HOW we do it. Other people have different methods than we do, but this works for us. If you have any better/more efficient ideas, leave me a comment! We love to learn faster and better ways to do things. I actually hesitated to post this, as there are so many ways to do this job, and there are so many blog posts on the subject already… but, we actually get a lot of questions from “real life friends” who want details AND photos. This method is exactly the same one we use for deer, so if you are wanting to process some venison on your own, you can use this method.
Raise some healthy happy goats.
You can butcher at any age you want, but never butcher a goat who is not healthy. There are cultural differences and preferences that go into this, so suit yourself as far as age. We have always butchered at about a year old, but only because at that point it’s usually the dead of winter and I am not only tired of buying hay for them, but also I much prefer to butcher in cold weather. Some people prefer to eat a much younger goat, but since we grind the majority of the meat, it really doesn’t matter to us. We’ve butchered a huge stinky buck who was at least 8 years old, and the meat did not taste goaty. The key is keeping the meat clean as you are processing and cooling it as you go by frequently hosing it down.
Prep: get an ice chest or two, loaded with ice. We use frozen half gallon plastic juice bottles. Put ice in between every layer of meat, as you go. Be GENEROUS with the ice.
Get a sawzall type saw and an extension cord, and set it up close to your butchering area.
You’ll also need some sort of a large container for the skin and guts.
And Knives! Ah, this is an area near and dear to my husband’s heart. He is obsessive about sharpening them and I am so glad he is because it makes butchering SO much easier! He also does not like our butchering knives to be used for anything else, so they stay in a drawer when not in use.
Someone has to be brave/tough enough to “do the deed”. We use a gun, at close range, with a head shot. The goat is happily eating his last meal, and he nevers know a thing. He immediately drops to the ground, and there is no suffering. It is very important to us that there be no suffering. Here’s the part where I must admit that I have only done this part once. It’s very hard for me to do as I get quite attached to our goats. My husband usually does this part, and while he does not like it either, he loves goat meat. I do not watch. I truly truly appreciate him doing this part. If he has to go to work, at that point I can finish the entire process alone.
After he has shot the goat, I come back outside and immediately slit the throat to be sure it bleeds out faster. The nerves will continue to cause muscle twitching/spasms for quite a while. I cut a slash in each back leg between the tendon and the bone, and hang asap on the hanger upper thingie. (What the heck is that thing called anyway?) My husband got it from his grandfather, and it’s a homemade heavy duty thingie that is raised and lowered by pulleys and rope. We do this job under our carport because it keeps us out of the weather and it’s conveniently located right beside the deck where we keep the ice chests.
Skin the goat, just as you would a deer. Never skinned a deer? Well… start at the very top, and make a long cut, just under the skin, from just below where it’s hung, on each leg, and down to meet in the middle.
Starting at the top, and working your way down, slowly peel the skin back from the muscle, taking care to TRY not to get hair on the meat, although it is inevitable that some will get on there. Just keep hosing it off periodically.
Once you’ve peeled the skin back a little past the tail, you are going to have to use some kind of loppers or something to cut through that tail bone. If it is a younger smaller animal, a sharp knife will work. This was a 6 or 7 year old doe, with large tail bones.
We work together as a team really well, knowing when to move out of each other’s way, and knowing what needs to be done next. More than 2 people working on one goat is just not efficient. At least, it isn’t for us.
Make a long slit, right under the skin, straight down the middle, all the way down to the neck. Try not to go any deeper than skin deep. You don’t want to puncture the guts. That is not only messy, but really stinky. However, if you do puncture the guts: PANIC NOT. All is not lost. Just hold your breath, finish quickly and hose hose hose!
Now, grab a front leg and make a slit under the skin from the back of the knee all the way up to the “arm pit”. Then make a cut around the leg, right above the knee. Hold the goat’s leg in between your two legs to keep it still and start skinning until you get as close to the body as you can.
Then go ahead and pull the skin down past the legs, all the way down as far as you can past the neck and to the head. Use a knife to cut through the meat around the neck, and then use your saw to cut the head and skin off.
Next cut off the front legs with your saw, right above the knees.
Then remove each front leg, cutting carefully around the shoulder blades and put them in the ice chest.
Okay, here’s the tricky part where you’re going to be dealing with the bladder. You don’t want to mess up and get urine all over your good meat! So, VERY carefully, cut through the pelvic bone, being careful not to cut too low and get too close to the bladder.
After cutting through the pelvic bone, use your knife to pull away everything in that area, including the bladder. Hold on to it carefully so it doesn’t pour out from the top.
I pull it down as low as necessary to cut away the bladder and all the poop.
Now it’s time for the gutting. Use two fingers on the inside to push the guts out of the way while you slit the skin as low as possible.
Then, as you can see, the guts just start falling out. Help them along the way by reaching in and cutting any connective tissue along the rib cage. Once you have all the guts out you MIGHT want to save the liver and the heart. Some people save the kidneys as well.
The liver especially, but also the heart are SO full of nutrients. If you are eating ketogenic, as I am, you may find that it is especially important to get those nutrients in to repair past damage to your health from years of eating the Standard American Diet. I despise chicken liver, but goat and deer liver don’t taste near as bad! So, I encourage you to give it a try. I only eat one to two ounces of liver at a time, and I am shooting for 3 to 4 days a week.
Now you need to cut through the breast bone (probably not the correct name for those bones!) all the way down to the neck. You could cut the neck off separately if you want. We didn’t do that with this one.
Keep hosing the meat to cool it and rinse it! Now cut straight down the spine, from top to bottom.
On this one, when we got toward the neck, we veered off to the left. This left the neck attached to the ride side of the body.
All right, the front legs are already gone, so now you want to cut the rib cages off, right below the back legs. Put them in the ice chest!
Now cut the lower part of the leg off that hasn’t been skinned, throw those hind quarters in the ice chest and you are FINISHED!
Now you can leave the meat on ice for several days if you like. Our temps here in Texas aren’t low enough to allow us to “hang the carcass” for a few days or so.
Here’s a link to see what kind of cuts you might like from your goat. We tend to just grind the whole thing except the back strap and tenderloin. Ground cabrito (chevon) makes the most delicious hamburgers! It is not tough, strong tasting, or gamey in our opinion. We eat a lot of venison and there is a big difference. We like the goat meat better, and that’s why we’re raising more of it this year.
Let me know if you try your own DIY Goat Butchering! I’d love to know how it goes. Leave a comment if you have any questions!