A Traditional Czech Pig Slaughtering and a Giveaway

Done! I know this took me a while, but it was really difficult to choose the right pictures as I didn't want to scare you, however I wanted to show the pig slaughtering as authentic as possible. A traditional pig slaughtering feast usually takes place in winter when the temperature is below zero, and what's really interesting is that nothing from the pig gets wasted.

I can imagine some people would be disgusted by this post, because the only form of meat they've ever seen is a nice clean piece of meat they got from a supermarket. But let's face it, there's always an animal at the beginning, and I think that everyone who eat meat should know the process of what happens before the meat get on the plate. Also getting your meat from a farm is the best thing you can do for you and for the animals as well, because the conditions in which the pigs are raised in commercial production are often horrifying and the meat is much less healthy.

The meat we got was the best pork meat I've ever eaten. The slaughter took place at a small family farm in a village near Prague. The farmer was a very nice man who truly likes his animals. He only raises about 20 pigs a year and makes sure they are all very well fed and have great living conditions. Also the way the pig is killed is very different from the commercial process. I can honestly say I wasn't brave enough to watch that part because I heard stories about squealing animals etc. However as the butcher explained to me later and P. who participated in the killing confirmed that, there was no squealing and horror stories. The kill is very humane and the pig is not stressed before it's slaughtered as it doesn't know it's going to die. This fact is also very important because stress affects meat quality.

I would like to express my huge thanks to the butcher who was very nice and funny the whole day while a bunch of curious city people with their cameras were standing in the way and taking pictures instead of helping him. :)

I also have something for you today. I put together a small selection of my favourite childhood sweet treats that I give away. There are instructions at the end of this blog post how to enter the giveaway.

I arrived when the killed and bled out (the blood is collected to make sausages and a soup) pig was already placed in a large wooden washtub. I was quite shocked by the pig's size that weighted 160 kg.

The butcher sprinkles powdered rosin all over the pig.

Then he pours over the boiling water to scald the hair.

These "bells" and chains are used to remove the bristles.

Guys helping to scrape off the hair.

Scraped pig is lifted using a pulley and hung upside down from a metal tripod.

The butcher slits the belly to eviscerate the animal.

This must have been the most photographed pig (and the butcher) in the world! The butcher removing the internal organs.

Eviscerated pig is washed out before the butcher starts to cut off the belly fat and front legs that will be used to prepare first dishes.

The farmer makes a fire in an old stove where all the meat is cooked and baked.

Baking meat for a goulash.

The pig head, both front legs and the entrails are basic ingredients for the pig-slaughtering specialities.

A special homemade bread which is baked a day or two ahead and then dried is now being soaked to be used for the sausages.

Dicing fat for pork cracklings.

Traditional cookies with jam, quark, poppy seed and apple compote are welcomed accompaniment to all the meat.

Guts will be used as sausage casings and must be properly cleaned.

Guys are washing the guts that got quite tangled...

...and the ubiquitous paparazzi who are not helping :)

Skin is a necessary ingredient for headcheese.

The butcher skins the pig and all that's left will be divided into primal meat cuts. Yeah, that's a lot of meat!

Cleaning of the washtub.

The youngest participant :)

Ingredients for sausages, headcheese and soup: cooked meat and fat being cut and minced for sausages and headcheese, boiled peeled barley for the soup and diced bread for the sausages

The butcher making a headcheese

Headcheese ready to be cooked.

The butcher posing with a headcheese made traditional way in a casing made of stomach.

Headcheese being boiled.

The process of making sausages.

Sausages are now ready to be cooked.

Cooked and cooled sausages can be eaten straight away.

Slivovitz is a necessary part of the pig slaughtering feast :)

This axe was so heavy that I couldn't hold it in one hand.

A table full of pork meat.

Final products: white and dark sausages and headcheese.

It started raining right after we finished, we were very lucky.

The feast wouldn't be complete without a lot of beer!

Traditional Czech Sunday lunch "knedlo vepřo zelo" - dumplings with sauerkraut and roasted pork to finish the weekend.


The pig slaughtering feast was truly an amazing experience for my taste buds, however after eating so much meat I was desperately craving something sweet. As I was in the Czech Republic I got myself some of my favourite childhood treats. I also put together a small selection of these treats to give away today.

So what are these treats that could be yours?
Sojove rezy - a sweet soy bar
Studentska pecet - a dark chocolate with peanuts, raisins and jelly pieces
Kolonada - a traditional spa waffle biscuits with hazelnut cream
Tatranky - a crunchy biscuit with hazelnut filling
Mila - waffle biscuits dipped in coffee icing with cream filling
Horicke Trubicky - waffle tubes filled with chocolate cream
Kofila - a chocolate bar with coffee filling

To enter, just leave a comment on this post before next Friday December 3rd at 1pm (GMT). I will randomly select one winner and contact them by email. Please make sure your comment links back to a site where I can contact you or leave your email address in your comment so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open internationally. Good luck!


  1. Extremely well done Sarka! the chosen pictures are so real and true, but never too bloody or disgusting, once again you are a real professional photographer!
    Studentska?!?!??! Meeeeeeee! hope that I'll be lucky again!! eheheh

  2. Great post! Thanks for sharing. It's nearly the same in Hungary.

  3. Wonderful photos Sarka I think you did a great job here. So detailed (the photo of the lil guy behind all that red meat got me laughin'). Think these guys do slaughtering quite similar to the Chinese. nothing is wasted. not the blood, not the intestines or the bones or even the rectum. Plus it's always good to know where your meats come from. Hence i never shy away from it but my dad does even though he isnt iffy bout gore. Reason being he started growing his own veg and farm animals since he was a boy and never got used to having to kill his own 'pets'. Understandable though. He's an animal lover and gets very affectionate with em! Gorgeous post. I think it's by far my favourite of yours S.

    ps. Pavel!!! lol. his hair looks nice and shiny. xxx

  4. This was an extremely interesting, thoughtful look into an experience most of us will never get the chance to see. Thanks for letting us share your day with some great photos and interjections! Would be a treat to be a part of something so traditional some day.



  5. Amazing photos, Sarka. They tell a wonderful story. Glad you enjoyed the feast!

  6. This slaughtering is always a hard reality wherever it happens, but your presenting has a creative purity. Congratulations !

  7. Fascinating post Sari - and beautifully written and photographed.

  8. Great post, really.
    I was raised at the country, and even though we did'nt keep pigs, I am absolutely for showing people where their nice piece of meat comes from: this teaches respect for the animal and for food.

    The butcher was really great, it takes an uncommon ability to slaughter any beast!


  9. Very nice post! It can be difficult to realize that a piece of meat in the supermarket was living creature before, but this should be helpful for wasting less.
    I'm fan of Sojove rezy (I tried to receate it recently, but more trials are needed), and of Studentska pecet and Kolonada (even if I prefer darck chocolate version).

  10. Congrats on this post! For the braveness to share it and for the fine taste about the images posted - they really speak for themselves.
    In my country this habit is similar - nothing is wasted, though the recipes vary.

  11. Wow, this is a great photo essay. I have only had head cheese a few times, and would like to try the head cheese made in the stomach casing.

    And, gotta have slivovitz!

  12. What a wonderful and educational photo essay! I am glad I stumbled across it and I read every word. I liked the chicken LOL! I thoroughly enjoyed it and would be thrilled to win your childhood goody giveaway. :)

  13. This is gross especially the pic showing the head of the baby between all that raw meat, the blood on the butcher apron and that axe also oh my god

  14. Real. raw and downright delicious! I think you've told the story perfectly with these shots Sari. If you eat meat then you def need to see where your food comes from! Bravo and great post!

  15. Sari this is an excellent post for many reasons. Putting aside the superb photographs and documentation, it's a celebration of a craft and showing respect for the animal. The people who rear animals and butcher them in horrific conditions every day do not apologise so I don't think you should. Everyone should watch the film Food Inc. Thanks again this is terrific.

  16. These are really great pictures! Did you use the 50mm lens? I can see the lovely effect it has. I also like the pictures of the chickens - it's like they're so happy they escaped today!

  17. Wow, that looks like a really amazing experience! You've done a wonderful job illustrating it, and I'm only jealous I wasn't there to eat the sausages.
    I think it's great that you're posting this - people seem so disconnected from their food having once been a living thing so much of the time, that I think it's essential to have someone remind us. Thank you.

  18. Oh my gosh! I'm both horrified and fascinated at the same time. Amazing pictures. What camera and lens do you have? Perhaps you can show me how to use mine. See you this afternoon.

  19. Very interesting & your photos are fantastic!!! A couple of these goodies I can find at World Market, but would love to try them all.

  20. Thanks for the post! It was nice to read your story about the slaughtering which I attended with you. The post was really well written, and once again your photos are superb - nothing compared to my pics of the same day :)

  21. Good review and amazing photos, Sari!
    This post make me remember when I was a little child and I assisted my uncle and relatives slaughtering the pig. My aunties said "don't watch when they kill the pig!", but my mother permitted me for learning where the meat that I eat comes from. I wasn't shoked, and I learned something new.

  22. This is a great post - quite a bit different from the way we slaughter, but interesting to see.

    ikkinlala AT yahoo DOT ca

  23. Fascinating doesn't even begin to describe this post! I have never seen how a pig is prepared from being alive to the final product. Your photos tell a fabulous (and humane) story... love it xx

  24. Amazing! I think the only people who have a right to be disgisted are people who don't eat meat - if you do, you have to own up to the fact it's an animal. The best meat I ever ate was also home-kill - a wild boar. Thanks for the insight on this traditional way of dealing with slaughter.

  25. Extremely interesting post, we should be supporting all those farmers out there who are really artists and have so much proud in their jobs not only because they are experts but because of the fact that they respect and honor their animals.. loved the post!

  26. I'm still admiring these pictures - it's quite a skill to make such gory pictures look so aesthetically pleasing..

    By the way, a belated nice to meet you at the Food Bloggers Connect, Sarka:)

  27. I was watching Anthony Bourdain's Prague episode last week where he also witnessed a traditional pig slaughter, and now I'm convinced that the Universe is trying to tell me to get to the Czech Republic, stat ;) Gorgeous photos and it's so wonderful to see a tradition like that still alive. What a feast!!

  28. We have similar tradition in my city. It's no exactly the same. I like traditions still alive. Thanks for sharing this. From Spain (Lérida-Catalalonia).

  29. Great great photography! Thanks for the documentary.

  30. Thank you all for the nice words and positive feedback! I can't express how much I appreciate it! It's gratifying to see that people still do care about the origin of their food in times of food with uncertain origin and overuse of processed food.

    @Iman - as I said before, I assume the reality may seem unpleasant for someone, however if we do eat meat, this is exactly what we should realise is happening before the meat lands on our plates.

    @Chris - Hi Chris, yes I shot the whole process with 50mm lens.

  31. This is awesome, thank you for these pictures! I am reading Little House in the Big Woods to my 5 year old right now, and we just finished reading about the slaughtering of the pig (and making headcheese, sausages, etc) so I loved being able to show these pictures to my daughter. They show the process very well without being overly gross. I grew up going to visit my great grandmother's hog farm in Austria, and I want my daughter to understand where her meat comes from too.

  32. You really take good pictures, but for me as a vegetarian it's quite disgusting. Sorry

  33. @Jeff - headcheese is something like a terrine or big sausage made from meat and jelly. It's usually eaten cold with fresh onion and vinegar. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.