The Book For Aspiring Farm Meatsmiths

Want to round out your farm-to-table skills? These books will walk you through an ethical approach to processing farm-raised meat.

by Cory Hershberger

Butchering Beef (

At a Glance
Title: Butchering Beef: The Comprehensive Photographic Guide to Humane Slaughtering and Butchering and Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat and Pork: The Comprehensive Photographic Guide to Humane Slaughtering and Butchering
Author: Adam Danforth
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Release Date: 2014
Cover Price: $24.95 each
Target Audience: Farmers who want to take their farm-raised food to the next level; livestock owners who want to be as self-sufficient as possible

Farm life consists of a variety of challenging situations, especially if you’re raising livestock for meat. It can be exceedingly difficult to raise an animal from a baby in an emotionally detached way, knowing that it will eventually serve as food for your family or your farmers’ market customers.

Adam Danforth, author of Butchering Beef and Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat and Pork, understands that, which is why his all-inclusive manuals on harvesting, eviscerating and breaking down livestock carcasses for meat are built on honorable and humane endings.

“When I’m harvesting an animal, I feel right knowing that I have done everything I can to ensure a natural (albeit domesticated) existence and painless departure for every animal I process,” Danforth writes in the books’ introductions. “Everything you need to know in order to successfully—and respectfully—slaughter the most common species found on a farm is contained in these pages.”

He’s not kidding, either: Danforth’s inherent reverence for animals is apparent on every page, pervading every decision he discusses. He breaks down both the process and the animals—literally and figuratively—into easily digestible portions, and even if you’ve never butchered an animal before, these manuals equip you with the tools you’ll need to carry out the job successfully.

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Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, Pork (

The books are chock-full of invaluable step-by-step photographs that document every single step of the process, without needless and senseless gratuity. For instance, the longest chapter of the beef volume, “Beef Butchering,” dedicates 175 pages to the various cuts of meat possible from a cattle carcass, with step-by-step photos and instructions for each cut.

The books don’t glorify the butchering process or the human consumption of meat; rather, they demystify them in a profound way, showing interested farmers that with the purchase of some equipment and the proper space allotment, home butchering is a feasible agricultural aspect to add to a hobby farm. It’s the final step in taking control of your food supply.

Danforth understands the gravity of what he’s doing, and with introductions by Temple Grandin and Joel Salatin, he’s clearly not alone. The subject may be a somewhat sensitive one, but in his expert hands, it’s treated with the respect it deserves. If nothing else, flipping through these guides will cause you to consider the next bite of meat you consume, and that is a victory in itself.

The Final Word: If you’re interested in self-sustainability and raising livestock for meat consumption, this book is the next step in your process. It’s informative, it’s comprehensive, and above all else, it’s reverent and respectful of the animals giving their lives so we can live ours.

4.5 out of 5 Eggs

If you want more info on butchering and meat cuts, check out these articles:

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