Farm Tour – Butchering 101

One of the most difficult local items to menu is meat.  It’s not that chefs don’t want to purchase the local meat; it’s primarily because farmers want to move the entire animal.  To help combat this, we held a butchering 101 class at Jamison Farm to help educate our chefs about utilization of the entire animal from head to hoof.

Chef’s at Jamison’s Farm

John and his wife, Sukey, run Jamison Lamb, which is one of the most recognized fresh lamb producers in the Eastern United States.  They raise these lambs on their own pastures and from other neighboring pastures.  They process between 3,000 to 5,000 Pennsylvania raised lambs that are packaged and shipped to restaurants, grocery stores and foodservice establishments throughout the country.

Chefs Kevin Hermann from The Porch and Dave Harris from PNC Eco Bistro, showing off their knife skills
Chefs Kevin Hermann from The Porch and Dave Harris from PNC Eco Bistro, showing off their knife skills

Sukey and John Jamison graciously invited our chefs to their USDA inspected processing facility in Latrobe, PA.  We arrived at 9AM and the Jamisons were prepared to show us first how to break down a steer.   The chefs had an opportunity to get their hands dirty as well.  As primals where removed from the animal, the chefs worked on breaking them down further too fully grasp the varying cuts that exist.

The second part of the day was devoted to lamb.  We couldn’t physically go through the harvesting (slaughter) of the animal due to the amount of people in the space.  However, John walked us through the process.  Before the lambs are processed, they are held in a small pen behind the facility awaiting their demise.  John explained that animals cannot be stressed before they are processed.  So holding them in this small pen helps them get acclimated to their surroundings.  “Stress is both inhumane and could potentially damage the meat,” he said.

Lambs in pen behind slaughterhouse

 The processing of a lamb is quite a bit easier than a steer primarily due to the size of the animal. However, a highly skilled butcher is essential to ensure the animal is being processed accurately to achieve the most profitable cuts.

At the end of the day our chefs left with an understanding of how they can use the entire animal when purchasing from the small local farm.  They also left with their coolers full with a variety of cuts of beef and lamb.

Until next time,


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