Onto the Kill Floor: Here's What It's Like to Watch a Pig Turned Into Pork
The process was described to me before I walked onto the kill floor.
Jim Wood, the owner of Palmetto Creek Farms, gave me the rundown. "They can't see anything. There's nothing to hear. I don't think they have any idea what's going on."
At this natural pork farm in Avon Park, in Central Florida, we entered the barn through a screen door. There were two pens with about ten pigs to the right -- the unfortunate victims of the day. I could feel my heart drop as a couple of them walked over to check me out.
Keith, Jim Woods' right-hand man, began rearranging the wooden fences. A pig strolled out and made its way around to the knock box. The door slid down behind him.
Keith quickly and carefully held the captive and put a stun-gun to the pig's head. BOOM. The pig quickly dropped to the roll-out cart on the floor, its muscles spasming violently. They slit the neck. Blood gushed out. Holy shit, I thought to myself, I cannot believe I just saw that. My nerves stood on end. Travis, another worker, rapidly lassoed the foot of the the flailing animal. It was hoisted up and pulled to the next room. The pigs in the pen across the room paid no attention, completely ignorant to their impending demise.
"This is my least favorite part of the job" he noted. "If I never had to this again, I certainly wouldn't miss it. I live on this farm. This is my life. The rest of these go home at the end of the day. I am with these pigs from the day they are born until the day they die. I don't like to see them die. You have to compartmentalize it."
The hog was dunked in a scalding bath, then placed on a "dehairer," a large medieval-looking device that flipped the pig around, steel cleats on rubber paddles removing its hair. Once the majority of the hair was removed, the workers scraped off the rest with knives. The body was then hoisted, hung, and singed with a torch to make sure no remnants of hair remained. It was then rinsed with 180-degree water. Sanitation complete, it was time for trimming and cleaning.
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