A butcher is a professional who prepares meat or meat products for sale.
He buys animals in carcasses or quarters from slaughterhouses, wholesalers, or professional cooperatives. He stores, cuts, and also prepares the meat that he sells in stores, supermarkets, or markets.
The butcher carries out his work alone or in a team. He is mostly standing. Part of the activity is done in a cold room where you have to adapt to sudden variations in temperature. And also transport heavy loads.
- The butcher debones the carcasses cuts the meat into pieces to present it for retail.
- In contact with customers, the butcher has a business activity. He welcomes consumers, sells the meat, advises on preparation, and also cooks.
- Store the pieces of meat to process them and offer them to its customers.
- Perform slaughter and animal preparation operations
- Cut the carcasses according to the different primary and secondary cuts
- Work the meat using specific knives and machines
- Prepare cuts for weighing, packing, selling, or subsequent preparations
- Preparing meat products
- Display the cuts in the butcher’s window and take care of the retail sale
- Ensure cleaning and also compliance with hygiene standards
- Collaborates with the authorities in charge of health checks on animals for slaughter to ensure food safety.
The specific tasks of the butcher change depending on the following
- Type of meat
- Type of product to be obtained
- Technologies used in the production.
Education and Training
Becoming a good butcher requires practical skills because formal education is not needed: However, it is significant to know animal anatomy, slaughtering techniques, meat processing processes.
Knowledge of hygiene and safety at work is also fundamental: Also a thorough understanding of meat processing instruments and machinery is significant.
Practical experience is also necessary to develop the manual skills needed to work with the knives, to make fast and precise cuts.
A butcher’s career usually begins with an apprenticeship period which is necessary to learn the art of preparing meat.
After having acquired sufficient experience and skills, the butcher has the possibility of opening his own business.
If working in the food industry, a butcher may specialize in a specific phase of meat preparation. For example, boning butchers, experts in removing bones from meat. Or in the preparation of a specific kind of animal (such as cattle or poultry). In this sector, the responsibility is that of the head of the butchery department.
The butcher can also develop into commercial intermediary functions.
In the United States, the salary of a butcher depends on the size of the store that employs him. The average annual salary of a butcher is $32,900. However, it ranges from $22,210 to $50,440
Some of the job requirements to be a butcher include the following:
Skills and Qualities
- Animal anatomy skills
- Knowledge of meat preparation techniques
- Skills in the use of knives and work instruments
- Knowledge of hygiene standards relevant to food production
- Manual skill
- Precision and physical strength
- Customer orientation
- If he is self-employed, accounting knowledge is necessary to manage his business.
- Rigorous and vigilant
- Being friendly and also welcoming
Working hours vary by company. The activity can start in the morning before six o’clock and end in the evening between 7 and 8 p.m. With a break in the afternoon. The butcher works on Saturday, Sunday morning, and some public holidays. He then has days off during the week.
In a supermarket, the workshops sometimes operate for sixteen hours (or twenty-four hours) a day in rotating shifts, each shift working eight hours. Butchers prepare and also package the meat. The department manager is responsible for inventory management, purchasing, managing teams, and also reporting to management.
If he works as an industrial butcher, he does most of his work on mechanized and automated meat processing machines.
At the end of their training, novice butchers can find a job in many shops. Supermarkets, wholesale markets, or collective catering are constantly recruiting butchers.
An experienced butcher also can set up on his own. However, it requires a significant investment capacity to acquire the necessary business and equipment. But if business is good and the butcher develops a large client, he can benefit from attractive incomes.