Whole Animal Butchery Dilemma

3 Oct 2023

As one of a handful of local Whole Animal Butcheries, we occasionally face the problem of having either too much of a cut or not enough.

This is because the whole animal yields a finite amount of any particular section (two shoulders, two legs, four shanks, one fillet, one tail, two cheeks etc.) and if we sell lots of one particular part and less of another, we end up with an imbalance. In winter, everyone wants the roasting, braising cuts and in summer, it's all quick cooking and barbecue.

So sometimes, despite 17 years' experience doing the whole animal juggle, we find ourselves with an excess of one part or another and that's when we holler for your help.

Regular butchers don't have this problem because they judiciously only buy boxes of the cuts they know they can sell at any given time or season. This makes better business sense and avoids the challenge of having to find customers or productive uses for every single part of the whole animal. But the convenience comes with unacceptable trade-offs.

By only buying sections of animals, off the bone, in boxes, these butchers forego the direct relationship with the farmer, they don't develop the skills required to break and handle whole animals and they never have the full range of cuts available from a whole animal. Nor are they able to provide important feedback about the quality and conditions of the carcasses to the farmer, who usually last saw her animals heading out the farm gate in a truck.

The complexity of Whole Animal Butchery is challenging, but even on the difficult days we wouldn't swap it for the dull anonymity of a boxed meat business. 

There's a chapter on Whole Animal Butchery in our book, The Ethical Omnivore, if you'd like to know more... 

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