As with everything, there are rules and regulations that you need to abide to (or bend). Most of these – quite rightly – relate to the welfare of the animal at the time of slaughter. Therefore you must not cause (or permit to be caused) any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering. Neither must you slaughter (or permit to be slaughtered) any animal by a religious method, and you must ensure that all animals are stunned before slaughter. So far, so good!
Now we move into the more difficult areas…
You cannot ask anyone else (even a licensed slaughterman) to kill and cut up an animal for you on your premises, even if it is only for home consumption. You must do the job yourself. In Northern Ireland the law is a little more flexible, in that it states that it may be permissible to make use of an itinerant slaughterman, provided he only kills the animal and does not process it in any way. Once the animal is dead and dressed, there are limitations as to what you can do with it. Except in certain cases poultry and rabbits, you cannot sell, barter, swap or give away any part of any home killed animal. Neither can you feed it to your guests. Home slaughter is defined as being: ‘ The slaughter of a livestock animal by its owner on their property for their own personal consumption or that of members of their immediate family living there.’
If the law would be content to stick to that simple definition then things wouldn’t be too bad. But it’s not. Cattle, sheep and goats are also covered by the EU Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies ( TSE) Regulations, which require the removal of certain Specified Risk Materials (SRM) from the carcass. These need to be stained blue and disposed of in accordance with the legislation. Unless this is carried out, the only person who would be able to consume any of the meat would be the person who owned and killed the animal. Even close family members would be excluded from partaking of the feast.
Pigs are exempt from TSE regulations, so, of the larger species of farmed animal, these are in fact the easiest animals to deal with in accordance with the law.
Having said all that, I know plenty of smallholding folk who regularly slaughter their own sheep and goats (and occasionally cattle) for home consumption, and none of them take a blind bit of notice of the TSE regulations. Neither are they shy about sharing their wonderful home-produced food with their guests. What you decide to do is up to you – just don’t blame me if you get into trouble.