Splitting a Carcass in Half down the Back Bone.

I seldom bother with splitting a carcass through the backbone.   If I've shot something in the scrub I am generally reluctant to carry more than I have to so I generally just cut all the meat off the skeleton.  However if I want chops, for instance, then I might split the backbone.

An expert can make a fairly good job of this with a cleaver.   I believe that a heavy, sharp cleaver is best.   I would use the portion of the blade closest to the handle to chop with, and just raise it a short distance each time to try to achieve maximum accuracy.   But a cleaver can leave bone chips behind, and it is easy to go off track and cut off centre.

A proper meatsaw is a good tool for the job.   I've also cleaned up a woodsaw and used it with satisfactory results.

The carcass should be hanging from a sturdy support and be securely hooked or tied.   It would be a pity to make the final cut only to have one or both halves fall to the dirty ground.

Recently I helped an acquaintance butcher a sheep.  We wanted chops so the backbone had to be split.   This time I used a ten inch machete.   While I could have used the machete like a cleaver (and I actually did this sometimes), I simply held it in place and 'batoned' it down the spine using a heavy stick.   I was delighted with the results.    Here is a picture which might help to explain what was done:

The ribs also have to be separated down the brisket.   This was easily achieved with the machete.

I didn't want chops with the full rib attached, so I cut through the ribs.   I found that a well placed blow with the machete did the job nicely.   However, this did create a few sharp points and chips as the bone shattered.... so I had to clean these up.

The ribs were delicious barbequed.

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  • Hi Stephen :

    If I have access to 240 volts, I use my Skorpion saw, carefully cleaned, with a wood saw blade reserved for meat use only. Otherwise, I have a Kombisag saw, very compact, with 4 blades, 1 of which is stainless, for meat. Cheers,


    • That saw would be a great bit of gear if you did a lot of butchering.   I must try to find out what they look like.   Thanks.... Coote.
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