Slaughtering a Heifer


Last week, we slaughtered our eighteen month old heifer, previously known as Henrietta Hamburger (Sucky).

After the difficulty I had with getting the last steer into position for slaughter, I decided that I wouldn’t risk another outcome like that. The slaughtermen are busy and they don’t want to be waiting for people to chase their animals around. I’m convinced that the animals are somehow able to sense death. They normally follow buckets that contain their molasses treats. That is, until I try to lead one of them to the slaughter. I don’t know how they know, but somehow, they know.

When Sucky’s time was up, I decided that I was going to put her, Coco and the new calf down in the driveway overnight. This would make for very easy access when the time came. There’s plenty of grass in the driveway, and I put a water trough in there for them. Sucky was obsessed with Coco’s calf, so I thought that it would just drive her crazy if I separated them.

The next morning, Charlie arrived, ready to do his work. The kill that he’d done that morning, just before he showed up at our place, involved chasing an animal around. He was very pleased to see how I’d sorted things out.

I tried to get Coco and her calf away from Sucky, but they wouldn’t split up. They were trying to stay together. (I was trying to avoid having the other animals around when the shot went off. Apparently, they remember situations like this. So, if you have to do this, don’t let your other animals see it.)

Charlie used a rifle with a scope, so he hung back a bit, maybe five or six metres. He rested the weapon on the gate and took aim. I was expecting the hear the shot right away, but it didn’t come. He was waiting for exactly the right moment. He starting talking to the cows in a low voice, trying to settle them down. And they did settle down. They started to eat grass again.

“Look this way,” he said, over and over. “Come on… Look this way.”

Finally, Sucky turned to looked at him.


Charlie delivered a very clean shot.

Since black pudding was on the agenda again, as Charlie drew his knife to bleed the animal, I had the containers ready. We decided to use a small plastic container to “bail” the blood into the larger bucket this time.

With my bucket of heifer blood in hand, I headed back up to the house to deliver it to Becky. (Thanks, by the way, to Becky’s mum, who came out to help with little Owen while his mum and dad went about their business on that busy morning.)

The rest of the job went just like it did with the Herman slaughter.

Here’s what the entrance to the Farmlet looked like that day. A couple of our neighbours drove past… You know you’re living in rural New Zealand when people drive by a scene like this and just give you their usual, customary wave as they go past.

I asked Charlie if he wanted us to mention his contact information on the site, to maybe help him drum up more business.

He said, “Mate, thanks, but I’ve got more business than I can handle. Please don’t recommend me to anyone else.”

In harsh economic times like these, I wonder what other occupations are around where the people involved beg you not to send any more customers their way!?

In a different development, Becky called one of our other homekill meat contacts and ordered a lamb to be slaughtered for sausages. (Christmas is coming AND Becky’s sister is getting married, so we needed to be well stocked for upcoming sausage sizzles! We thought we’d try lamb sausages this time.) Well, our homekill meat man (let’s call him ‘Joe’) called Becky back and said he didn’t really have a suitable sheep to do in just now, “But how about a pig? I’ve got a great big sow that’s ready.”

Becky consulted me and her mum and dad and we all licked our chops at the thought of having a large pigaphant turned into sausages.

The next day, Joe killed that sow and had the carcass hanging up. He called Becky.

“You know that sow… She was huge. You can’t have possibly wanted all of that turned into sausages.”

He wound up selling half of the meat to someone else and we took the other half. I think we wound up with something like 35 kilos of sausages. Becky made several different seasoning fills for them. I think she’s planning on writing about making sausage fill in an upcoming post.

So, that’s our meat situation sorted out for three households (our neighbours with whom we share grazing, Becky’s mum and dad, and us) for the next several months, plus part of the food for a large wedding after party.

8 Responses to “Slaughtering a Heifer”

  1. Bridget says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing this info. We have 5 heifers at the moment and will be getting one slaughtered in a few months. I couldn’t see a post for black pudding from your previous home kill, did I miss it? Look forward to the post about the sausages.
    cheers Bridget

  2. Sonya says:

    Hi Kevin

    Thanks for another great post! I was just telling my family over dinner (sausages from New World) how removed most people are when they sit down to eat their evening meal of steak, chicken or sausages and how it actually arrived on their dinner plate. Their shear ignorance is astonishing.

    Enjoy your delicous meat and sausages!

    From Sonya in Wellington, sunburnt from the day in Eastbourne 🙂

  3. Angelique says:

    as for professions not needing any more business, try midwives… two partners and I are struggling to keep up with our very rural community….expanding!

    Really enjoy your posts

  4. Mike says:

    “I wonder what other occupations are around where the people involved beg you not to send any more customers their way!?”

    My thinking is that anybody involved with producing food is sitting pretty over the next couple of years — no matter where in the world they are.

  5. Mike says:

    Wow, that’s pretty barbaric. Sorry. Just curious, why not kill it yourself?

  6. Kevin says:

    Wow, that’s pretty barbaric. Sorry.

    That’s ok. Reality is hard for some people to handle.

    Just curious, why not kill it yourself?


    Slaughtering a steer is a big job that requires a lot of skill and equipment to be done properly. A block and tackle or hoist would be necessary to haul the carcass up for skinning and gutting. A meat ax is helpful for splitting the carcass in half. After the killing, skinning and gutting are complete, the meat needs to be transported to the butcher in a sanitary manner.

    Becky and I knew that all of this was far too much for us to handle on our own. We decided to call in a home kill professional to do the job and transfer the meat to our butcher in town.

    Also, I’ve recently learned: licensed butchers aren’t supposed to process homekills unless they have been done by legit homekill operators.

  7. Farmgirl says:

    I really appreciated this post and the comments it generated. It sort of helped me to get over my fear of seeing our cows meet this sort of demise. Last homekill, after seeing this post, I went out to check it all out. I still find myself impressed by the massive pile of guts.
    In response to the chap who suggested that you do it yourself, I think that you are wise to avoid it. We had an employee who insisted on home killing his pig. He did a terrible job of it. Not only did the pig suffer, but he wasted a lot of good meat. We now have a policy that prohibits that sort of thing happening again.
    I keep finding your site on my various google searches. If you guys find yourselves in Golden Bay, e-mail me and we will give you a feed of homegrown veg, beef, homemade sourdough and homebrew beer. I think we’re kindred spirits!
    Laura aka Farmgirl

  8. Rebecca says:

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for your comment. It’s nice to know that a kindred spirit has found our website. We’d love to visit the Golden Bay area one of these days, so you never know. . . Maybe we’ll meet in person some day. You sound very kind and hospitable. . . and better organised than we are on the beer front! We still have some ginger beer in the garage, but have run out of home brewed beer.
    Best wishes for a happy New Year.