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Hi, I need your input for a future Deer Processing Shop

Hi, I plan on starting up a deer processing plant in Illinois, south of Chicago.  Before I do, I want to make sure I will be providing the best possible service for the hunters at the best price. I have some questions that I think will help me set things up and get moving on the right track. If you could answer which ever ones you feel like, any information will be greatly appreciated and I am sure will bay off big in the long run.

 

  • When you bring a 100 pound dressed doe into the processing plant, with a clean double lung shot minimizing meat loss, about how much fresh meat (burger, steaks, roasts, etc…) do you get back?
  • How far are you willing to travel to have your deer processed at a plant that meets your product quality standards?
  • If you brought in 60 pounds of boned meat, on average, how much of that would you have made into smoked meat (summer sausage, slim jims, jerky, etc…)?
  • How long does it usually take from the day you hand your deer over to the processor to the day you get the call to pick it up? (please indicate if there was sausage and jerky made)
  • Do you prefer community batches (all deer are put into one container when boned and separated according to weight) because it is quicker and cheaper, or individual processing because you know you are getting your deer back?
  • How many deer have you had processed each year for the past three years?
  • Without going into detail as to where you take your deer for processing, do you have any complaints or praises about your current processor?

 

Thank you for your time. I hope you will answer these questions as accurately as you can so I can provide the best possible service to the hunters that come to me for processing in the future.

groovy mike's picture
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I do my own

I process my own deer so I can't answer for your potential customers but one factor in my deciding to dress my own deer was the fact that I didn't want any community meat or even to have my deer cut with the same saws that went through the bones of other deer - especially spines etc.

Tndeerhunter's picture
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Meat!

I generally have 2-4 deer processed each year. One or two are done as payment to the nice landowners that allow us to hunt. I know it's difficult to figure just how much meat is there on any deer, especially if some is blood shot. I figure about 1/2 of what a dressed weight is should be close, if there is nothing to throw out. I do like a place that makes jerky, snack sticks and sausage in addition to simply steaks and grind. I also like a place that adds some beef fat to the hamburger (grind) if wanted.

I way prefer a place that does each deer individually, since I know the care I've given mine from shot to shop. The time I wait depends on the time of the season and how much sausage, snack sticks and jerky I want done, as it's been my experience that these meats take a good bit longer to process.

 

Topgun 30-06's picture
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1---Depending on how

1---Depending on how they have it done (deboned or run through the saw etc.) you can figure from about 35% to 45% finished product compared to dressed weight in your scenario.  Most consumers don't realize the finished, edible product is going to be much less than the hanging weight.  Make that clear to them BEFORE they leave the animal with you!

2---I haven't had an animal processed in a couple decades, as I do all my own for reasons stated by the others and I just like to do it all from trigger squeeze to the eating!  It has also saved me a ton of money!

3---A two week turnaround should be plenty, unless there are extenuating circumstances.  To do things properly you should have a big enough cooler to hang all carcasses brought in as soon as they are weighed and tagged.  If you don't have a large enough cooler to do that, don't accept the animal.  You should also have a separate freezer designed for immediate, fast freezing of the meat after it is processed.  Then within 24 hours it can be transferred to a main freezer until it is picked up by the customer.

4---Keep a very clean, sanitized shop!  Be honest in everything you do and you will be okay because there are plenty of people who need your type of service.  By being honest, I mean that all charges should be up front with nothing hidden (charge for waste removal, hide kept or returned, extra for deboning compared to running loins through the saw, etc. should all be out in the open BEFORE they leave the animal with you).  I also strongly suggest that you weigh the animal on your scale in the presence of the consumer before they leave.

PS:  The reason I responded to your post is because I was a MI Dept. of Agriculture Inspector/Investigator for 30+ years and the first 1/2 of my career was in sanitation inspections, as well as weights & measures, and included establishments like you intend to start up.  What I mentioned above were the main sources of consumer complaints over my career involving processing facilities for domestic and wild animals.  Good luck!!!

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Location: Custer, SD
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I also do all my own

I also do all my own processing.  This guarantees the cuts I want and as I debone, there are no bones or spinal fluid in my meat.  This past winter the city sent out sharpshooters again to thin the deer herd in town.  All the deer are sent to the processors to be given to the local food pantry.  There was one city councilman that remarked that out of the 100 deer shot and processed, that only 1000 pounds of meat were donated to the food pantry.  He asked where the deer had been shot by the so called sharpshooters.   That equals 10 pounds of meat per deer.  Even if they had been all fawns there should have more meat per deer than that.  I also can the venison, make my own summer sausage, ring bologna, breakfast sausage, ground venison and still have roasts.  It takes me approximately 1 night to hang the deer to cool with the skin off, 2 hours to bone a deer, and depending on my workload, 2 days to process(grind, cut, season, grind again, stuff casings or ground meat bags, can with pressure canner, smoke and chill or freeze).  I did 6 deer and 1 pronghorn this past hunting season and I smoked a turkey that I shot.

At the cost of at least $70.00 per deer for processing, doing it myself makes more sense than taking it to the processors around here who are actually to lazy to do the job right.  They also pile the deer up and get to them when they can, this means more tainted meat.

If you are opening up a shop, get some good meat cutters or some enthusiastic amateurs like me to do your cutting.  Do one deer at a time, do it right and give the customers the deer they brought in.

groovy mike's picture
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investigate that for sure

sdwolfden wrote:

I also do all my own processing.  This guarantees the cuts I want and as I debone, there are no bones or spinal fluid in my meat.  This past winter the city sent out sharpshooters again to thin the deer herd in town.  All the deer are sent to the processors to be given to the local food pantry.  There was one city councilman that remarked that out of the 100 deer shot and processed, that only 1000 pounds of meat were donated to the food pantry.  He asked where the deer had been shot by the so called sharpshooters.   That equals 10 pounds of meat per deer.  Even if they had been all fawns there should have more meat per deer than that. 

 

That sounds like someone is stealing meat to me!

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just lazy

groovy mike wrote:

sdwolfden wrote:

I also do all my own processing.  This guarantees the cuts I want and as I debone, there are no bones or spinal fluid in my meat.  This past winter the city sent out sharpshooters again to thin the deer herd in town.  All the deer are sent to the processors to be given to the local food pantry.  There was one city councilman that remarked that out of the 100 deer shot and processed, that only 1000 pounds of meat were donated to the food pantry.  He asked where the deer had been shot by the so called sharpshooters.   That equals 10 pounds of meat per deer.  Even if they had been all fawns there should have more meat per deer than that. 

 

That sounds like someone is stealing meat to me!

Nope, just too lazy to do it right, they don't take the time to get all the meat, they get the biggest chunks off and throw the rest away.

groovy mike's picture
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a LOT of waste

They ought to get ten pounds per HAM let alone per deer!

If I were paying for that I'd be pushing for criminal charges either for theft of meat or for negligence in butchering.  That's just wrong.

sdwolfden's picture
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I agree

groovy mike wrote:

They ought to get ten pounds per HAM let alone per deer!

If I were paying for that I'd be pushing for criminal charges either for theft of meat or for negligence in butchering.  That's just wrong.

I agree, but out here that's the way most businesses are run, they either don't want to do the work or they want to charge more than it's worth.  Another reason that I do for myself.

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I will usally cut my own meat

I will usally cut my own meat too, keep the steaks and roast i want and take the rest in to the butcher for processing, I dont have the means to make my own pepperoni or sausage yet. but by cuting it all up it saves me money in the end instead of having the shop do it all. I have had them do it before when i didnt have time and it wasnt to bad of a price, it was $.50 a pound cut and wrapped. with a $40 dollar minimum. good luck with whatever you choose.

Topgun 30-06's picture
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That's an absolute travesty

That's an absolute travesty because even those small deer you have around Custer are going to have more than 10# of pure meat just by stripping out the backstraps without hardly even cutting the skin down to get at them!!!  Cripes, a boned out antelope will give you around 40# of meat and a deer is well above that.  I would be doing some undercover work to see if they are really lazy and throwing everything away or putting it in a lot of butcher's freezers!!!  That really ticks me off hearing about that when the poor should have received upwards of 5 to 6 thousand pounds of meat even if the butchers were lousy!!!

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