Home Butcher Guide

Establish a Home Butcher Room

Butcher room wall-in cooler
Butcher room meat grinder
Butcher room meat hooks
Butcher room
Butcher room grinder
Butcher room equipment
Butcher room saw

Establishing a home butcher room on your own farm to succeed in the operations of butchering meat at home is a large jump into self sufficiency for your family. There are five essential elements of creating a butcher room at home.

Five Essential Elements of a Butcher Room

You’ve established yourself on a small hobby farm and now it’s time to begin butchering at home but your not sure how this all works. There are five essential elements for establishing your own butcher room. Let’s be clear that since the butcher room needs to be a cold area it is usually separate from where you will wrap and package the meat. The meat is often cut up then brought into a warm house in tubs where it is quickly wrapped and then put into freezers. It’s not entirely necessary to do it this way but it is a process that has worked well for us to have men and some women cutting up the quarters in the butcher room and the women and children wrapping the meat indoors while prepping coffee, snacks and lunch for the cutters.

Butchering cutting beef

1. Heated Room

An old milkroom, barn, garden shed, pole shed with concrete floors works well for cutting up meat. A room as small as 15’x15′ is efficient for a butcher room. This size allows enough room for equipment, tables and people. It’s probably the smallest you will want to go since you will have large equipment taking up space.

Cutting up beef and pork is no short process. It will take hours depending on how many quarters you are cutting up that that day. Oftentimes cutting up beef quarters is spread out over two days with, for example, with six people cutting and eight quarters hanging. You will not want to be freezing cold those two days but will need to keep the meal cool while cutting. Having some source of heat is necessary. Space heater on the floor or small wall heaters will do the trick. Warm comfortable boots are helpful for keeping your feet warm all day.

Butcher Room

2. Commercial Equipment

Allowing yourself a large meat grinder for grinding beef, pork or venison is essential. The Bass Pro Shop countertop meat grinders are an excellent addition for basic meat grinding but when it comes to larger amounts or meat for extended periods of time, a large commercial meat grinder is essential. These can be purchased used or new. Used meat grinders tend to need a little extra grease each year. You’ll need to prep your machines before the big day. New is always nice but unnecessary if you are trying to establish a low cost butcher room. 

A large band saw or meat saw is essential for cutting up beef and pork. Band saws are used to cut through the bones of the meat. Portioning meat from pork, beef or venison is easier when you are using a band saw. Handheld saws are great for smaller cuts, but when it comes to the large cuts of beef, a band saw is completely necessary. Band saws can be purchased used or new. Again, used is fine just plan to spend some time preparing the equipment before meat day so you aren’t stuck fixing essential equipment on the big day. Have extra parts and food grade grease available for use at any time.

Stainless steel tables are not essential but they are worth saving for and eventually obtaining. Stainless steel worktables can be quickly found used online for a couple hundred dollars or less. Restaurants are always selling them. Wooden tables work fine too. Long countertops around the room work well for individual cutting. A large central table is nice to set large cuts of meat on and great for having conversations with others in the room.

A large selection of cutting boards, knives and sharpeners are essential to any butcher room. These are probably items you already have on hand and ready to go. Allowing yourself two good butcher knives, a few heavy duty cutting boards and an a norton honing stone are all essential for the day. Those prone to cutting themselves will want to consider meat cutting gloves. Aprons are a nice addition to long hours of meat cutting or you can establish your own old jacket for the greasy job of cutting meat. Don’t forget a variety of bandaids; it never fails that someone will cut themselves during the process.

Hanging beef

3. Walk-in Cooler or Cold Room

A separate place to hang your cuts of beef or pork for the days necessary is essential. Beef will need to hang no less than ten days before cutting up. Pork two days. Make sure the room is safe from pets such as cats and dogs who would love to sink their teeth into the meat. The room also needs to stay cool enough for many days ahead. If meat cutting is done in cooler winter months this shouldn’t be much of a problem but keep an eye on the temp of the room. You will not want spoilage.

After many years of hanging meat in a separate building, the family invested in a large used walk-in cooler. Instead of relying on mother nature to be cold enough to hang meat for ten days, the temperature can be regulated to a safe temp for long periods of time. Walk-in coolers are able to be set up and taken down, so no need to use that space the entire year for an empty cooler. Meat poles and meat hooks to hang large cuts of meat is necessary and will save you time.

food safety

4. Water Source

Water is necessary when cutting up meat. Water will be used for the continuous cleanup you will need to do during meat cutting. Fat is greasy and cutting boards, knives and even the floor need cleaning often. Hosing down these items is helpful. Hot water is nice but if all you have access to is a cool hose that will suffice.

Another thing to consider when establishing your meat cutting room is electrical outlets for the meat saw, meat grinder, space heaters and perhaps a coffee pot. Large commercial equipment may require extra power in order for them to run.

5. Floor Mats

A simple yet necessary item are floor mats. The floor gets slippery and cold. Using heavy duty commercial rubber floor mats on the floor between tables and outer edge equipment will save your legs and feet from the long hours of standing on concrete in a cool room. Oftentimes meat cutting is done in cooler months where there is snow which makes for slippery floors. Safety is essential to meat cutting.

Skinned beef

Slow Accumulation of Equipment

Setting up your own butcher room is a process and may take several years to fully establish all parts. You can continue to improve upon what you already have by adding one new item every year. Slow accumulation of meat processing equipment for the home is better than just thinking about it and never doing it.

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