How to Ethically Put Down a Goat

On-the-farm slaughter of goats can be a rewarding way to enjoy the fruits of your labor. It allows you to savor fresh, natural meat while ensuring that your goat lived a life free from stress and pain. Although there are various methods for slaughter, this article will focus on the approach recommended by experts. Before you begin, it’s important to have a plan in place. Determine whether you want to keep the meat, organs, and hide, or if you simply want to strip every bit of flesh off the goat skeleton to make hamburger. Familiarize yourself with online resources to help you prepare.

Gathering Your Equipment

To make the process smoother, gather the necessary equipment. Depending on what you have on your farm, you may need a deer gambrel and a front-end-loading tractor to hoist the goat carcass. Additionally, a skinning knife, a gut hook knife, a fillet knife, and a sharp butcher’s knife will come in handy. It’s also essential to have a large bucket to catch the blood and offal, as well as a table covered in butcher paper for dissection. Consider having a hose with fresh water nearby for convenience. Disposable rubber gloves are recommended, and you’ll need plastic bags or coolers to store the meat.

Selecting the Goat and Ensuring a Humane Death

When choosing your goat, opt for one that hasn’t been eating recently. Select it the night before the slaughter and confine it in a stall or enclosure where it can’t graze overnight. This precaution prevents a messy situation caused by a full goat rumen. Animal welfare organizations recommend using a captive bolt gun for livestock slaughter, but if you don’t have one, you can use common firearms. However, only adults with extensive experience in the safe operation of firearms should attempt this method. Always remember that discharging a firearm is potentially dangerous. For a humane death, aim for a shot to the forehead where two lines intersect: one from the right ear to the left eye, and the other from the left ear to the right eye. It’s crucial to note that this method isn’t suitable for mature goats as their brain is located further back in the skull compared to other livestock.

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Goat Skull

Proper Shooting Angle

To ensure a successful shot, it’s important to understand the goat’s anatomy. The goat brain is positioned behind several inches of bone and tissue. Therefore, it’s recommended to shoot the goat from behind the head. According to the Human Slaughter Association, the ideal position for heavily horned sheep and goats is behind the poll, aiming toward the angle of the jaw.

Proper Shooting Angle

Slaughtering Process

After achieving a humane death, immediately slit the goat’s throat to facilitate blood drainage. Make a deep cut just below the angle of the jaw, ensuring both carotid arteries on the sides of the neck are included. Remember that the goat is already dead and cannot feel pain, so don’t hesitate to make the incision deep and complete. To continue the process, make a small slit between the tendon and bone on the back legs. Insert the hooks from the deer gambrel and hoist the goat to a comfortable height, allowing the gut bucket to catch the guts and blood.

Skinning and Dissecting the Goat

Begin by cutting circles around each back leg under the gambrel hooks, cutting only through the hide. From each circle, cut the hide down the inside of each leg, connecting the slits in the crotch. Now, it’s time to use the Butt Out tool. Insert it into the anus about 1.5 turns, then cut around the anus while leaving approximately half an inch of hide. Remove the Butt Out tool, ensuring no fecal matter contaminates the meat. Proceed to skin the goat using a skinning knife, being extra careful around the genitals if the goat is male.

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Skinning the Goat

After removing the skin, carefully cut around the testicles, pulling and cutting as you go. If desired, the testicles can be eaten or used for other purposes like making ammunition bags. Using a gut hook knife, slit the abdominal wall without cutting into the intestines or stomach to prevent meat contamination. Remove the organs, discarding what you don’t want to keep. Some farmers choose to hang the goat from its front legs at this point for easier access to the head and neck.

Completing the Process

Once the hide is completely removed, you may choose to dispose of it or retain it for tanning. To remove the head, cut through the muscle and tendons as close to the skull as possible. The neck meat is considered a delicacy. If you plan to cut the carcass in half, make a cut down the back using a meat saw or another suitable tool. Cutting through the ribs and down the spine will allow you to separate the carcass into halves, if desired.

Cutting the Carcass

At this point, the remaining steps are up to you. Whether you choose to roast the halves, divide the meat further, or prepare it in any other way, enjoy your hard-earned reward.

Thanks to David Hudson and Ned Strange, Sr. who slaughtered and dressed this goat. All photos were taken by Leslie Keck.

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