The Processing Plant

Armour Swift-Ekrich packinghouse
Armour Swift-Eckrich
Once the animal has been designated for slaughter it is shipped to a USDA certified slaughtering facility. The facility could be huge, such as the IBP plant in Storm Lake, Iowa, which processes 3,000 hogs an hour, or small like Ebersole's Custom Processing in Morrow County, Ohio. USDA inspector
USDA inspector

At Ebersole's an average of seven animals, be they sheep, cattle, or hogs, are processed a day, Monday through Thursday. Friday and Saturday are reserved for cleaning and repairing. The live animals are kept in the stables toward the back of the building. One animal is sent through the chute at a time and shot in the head with a twenty-two gage shot gun. After the animal has been shot the door is opened and it rolls onto the cement killing floor.
Downed steer
Ebersole's: Beginning to slaughter
Photo by Alison Wolfgram

Skinning a steer
Skinning a steer
Photo by Alison Wolfgram
Next, the animals' necks are slit to let the blood drain. Skinning begins, the goal being to remove as much fat as possible. The hooves, horns, and heads are cut off. The animals are then pulled off of the ground and hung by their hind legs from mechanical chains. It is now time to remove the organs: stomach, pancreas, liver, lungs, intestines, and heart. The heart and liver remain with the meat. The rest is thrown into the appropriate tub. These materials will be sent to the rendering plant to be made into various beef by-products. Then a huge saw cuts the animal in two, slicing down the middle from toe to head.

At this time the meat is weighed and the customer is charged based on this value. Beef must hang for eight days in refrigerated rooms due to enzymes in the meat.

Name the parts of the anatomy of the steer that you can identify in the photo to the right. What muscles do you see? Steer fed hay and pasture will have yellow fat. Which animals ate hay? Why might hay or pasture have that effect on fat? Hint: Cellulose is the principle component in plants. Cattle have a unique four chambered digestive system designed to break down cellulose.
Pick one of the six organs that is removed from the steer: stomach, pancreas, liver, lungs, intestines, or heart. Draw and label it using the appropriate scientific names. Look to an encyclopedia for help.

Hanging beef carcass
Photo by Alison Wolfgram
Moo Wonder icon Where's the beef?

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