As we tend to raise pigs every other year, each time we come to butcher the pork, we have to review what we normally do! - So I have now made a record to refer to.  Many thanks to the extremely useful videos from quality meat Scotland. I have also gleaned information from the  downsizer guide to butchering half a pig .
We have used various Internet information in our first year, resulting in a laptop being an essential part of butchery equipment!

Now we have developed our own cutting plan:


Cutting board, bone saw, steak knife, boning knife, blow torch  (for removing last hairs)  freezer bags, marker pen, bowls for scraps.

The pork should come back to you in sides, possibly with the head still on one side.  Remove the head and store in the fridge to deal with later. Always cut only bone with the saw and muscle with the knife, switching as necessary.  Scrape away any bone dust. Bag and freeze as you go.

Prime cuts

Each side is first divided into three prime cuts.

To remove the leg (1), find the bone that was cut through on halving the carcass, and moving back about half an inch, mark your cut line, so that the cut is roughly at right angles with the vertebrae, and right angles with the leg.  The ideal cut will result in a ham that can stand balanced on its cut edge, with the leg upright.

To remove the fore end (2), count the ribs back from the top and cut between the 4th and 5th ribs.

Set the parts you are not working on aside, preferably somewhere cold.


Remove the trotter (3) cutting above the heel.

Remove the H bone which lies near the surface and is the socket the ball of the leg joint meets.  This is not important but easy to remove and makes for easier carving.  Tidy up the joint. Put any trim in the trim bowl for mincemeat. Now cut the leg into 2 or 3 joints.


Mark against the back bone a line parallel with the straight edge and cut through (4). Giving a hock and hand (side runner)  and a spare rib roast.

Cut the trotter off through the natural joint.

Working with the hock and hand/ side runner, remove the ribs (5) - set aside for barbecue spare ribs. Tidy up cutting of any bloody areas.  The joint can just be cut in half for smaller joints, by cutting at right angles to the hock, or boned out for mincemeat.

The spare rib joint can be left whole or cut in two for smaller joints.


Cut the chump from the belly by cutting through between the 1st and 2nd vertebrae. (6)

Pull the fat away from the cavity (7) - on traditional breeds where will be more - and reserve. Rendered down this makes lovely lard, or is excellent for processing into soap.  The kidney should be lurking in there too.

Now, using a small knife, carefully bone out the tenderloin (8)- this is a lot easier to do than it seems. Tidy up the tenderloin, removing any fat or glands.

Separating the loin and belly

Measure the eye of meat from the loin and measure that distance from the edge of the eye into the middle of the ribs.  (9). Use this measure to mark aline down the length of the ribs parallel to the backbone.

Now cut through the ribs at your mark.  It can be easier to bend the side over the edge of the table as you do this. Finish cutting through with a knife.


Pull any remaining skin away, and separate the ribs from the belly (10).  This is easier if you keep the ribs underneath on the board and pull the meat up as you cut.  Again, these ribs make excellent barbecue ribs.

Now cut the belly into slabs of your choice.  We usually cut into 3 slabs, but you can opt for slices etc.


You can cut these into chops but cutting between each vertebrae. We prefer to cut them into  joints of 4 - 6 chops - as we could always change our minds later but this keeps your options open for either chops or a roast. (11)


The head can be cut in two - hard work! And saved for brawn, or the meat cut away from the neck and cheeks for sausages, or the cheeks cut for Bath chaps.

Now do the other half!

By the end of that you should have:

Leg joints, 2 chumps, several loin joints, several slabs of belly, 4 sets of ribs for the barbecue, some meat from the head, some spare rib roasts, some hock and hands/ side runners or mincemeat, some lard, a couple of kidneys, two tenderloins and four trotters!


A side of pork.


1.Leg removal


2. Removing the fore end.


3. Removing the hind trotter


Leg joint


4. Separating the shoulder into the side runner and spare rib roast.


5. Removing the ribs


6. Chump


7. Pull the fat away.


8. Tenderloin


9. Measuring the eye


10. Separating the ribs from the belly


11.  Loin roasts




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livestock & poultry.