Slaughter procedures vary among the domestic meat
animal species due to anatomical differences in size and shape of animal and
type of skin covering (i.e. hair, wool, feathers, etc.). Many of the basic
procedures and objectives in sheep slaughter are similar to those of beef
slaughter. In many small commercial sheep slaughter plants the animal is
exsanguinated and most of the hide is removed with the carcass positioned on its
back in a cradle on the floor. In the remainder of this presentation I will use
words that may not be familiar to you. I suggest that before practicing this,
you learn any unknown vocabulary.
The objectives of sheep slaughter include
observing sanitary dressing procedures for sheep and learning anatomical
location of the internal organs. These two things are very important and
mandatory for the procedure.
Sheep Slaughter procedure
- Hold animals off feed for 18-24 hours prior to slaughter, but provide ample
- Record live weight (this is mostly done after sheep has been shorn to get
more accurate results).
- Confine the animal in the restraining chute
- Immobilize the animal using a captive bolt stunner or other provided device.
The stunner may be placed either at a point in the center of the forehead or
centered immediately behind the pole. The stunner should be held firmly against
the heat at the time of firing. (The purpose for immobilizing the animal is the
render the animal unconscious. We don't want to stop the heart because we need
it to pump the blood out when ensanguinating.)
- Release the immobilized animal from the restraining chute and shackle by one
hind shank at a point below the hock.
- Hoist to convenient height for exsanguination
- Exsanguination. With a sterilized knife, make an incision in the hide just
anterior to the point of the brisket and extend to 12-18 inches toward the
anterior end of the jaw. Keeping the incision on the center line, thrust the
point of the knife upward behind the breast bone (6-8 inches deep). This will
sever the carotid artery and jugular vein providing a thorough bleed.
- Remove the head. Start at the exsanguination incision and skin out the head
and neck. The esophagus should be tied off immediately above the larynx before
severing. Remove head at atlas joint and sterilize knife after head removal. The
inspector will check lymph nodes in the head.
- Place the head on a rack for inspection making sure that all the hair is
removed. Wash the head completely in preparation for inspection. After
inspection remove tongue and check meat.
- Remove the foreshanks at the metacarpal-carpal joint
- Remove sweetbreads and skin out neck area
- Move the carcass to cradle to remove rest of skin. Always use long, smooth
strokes with the knife when skinning.
- Remove tail
- Loosen rectum, tie it, and allow it to drop into the body cavity (this
prevents fecal matter from getting on carcass)
- Move the carcass to the hydraulically operated dropping rail section
- Lower the carcass to a comfortable working height, but do not allow it to
touch the floor
- Spread the carcass with the hydraulics spreader
- Split the aitch bone (the can be done with a knife in yearlings) and loosen
the penis on rams
- Saw the breast bone, then dip saw in sterilizer
- Open body cavity along the ventral mid-line from the aitch bone to the
posterior end of the brisket. Use caution to avoid cutting or puncturing the
intestinal tract during this operation
- Remove the intestines and stomach, leaving the kidney and kidney fat in
carcass. Remove liver leaving the gall bladder and portal lymph nodes in tact
until after inspection.
- The esophagus is sometimes tied two places then severed between the two
- Remove the diaphragm membrane and lift out the lungs, heart, trachea and
- Free kidney from kidney knob and surrounding membranes, but leave kidney
attached by the ureter and blood vessels
- Split the carcass down the center of the spinal column
- Trim blood clots for the stick wound area
- Weigh the carcass
- Wash the carcass completely
- Pin up the neck
- Shroud the carcass. The shroud should be wet and must be pulled taut over
the carcass. Shrouding improves the appearance of the carcass by smoothing and
bleaching the fat on the outside
- Tag each side on the carcass, indication carcass number, hot weight,
- Chill as rapidly as possible. A 28 degree F chill room recommended for the
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