So, I'm new and I've got my first question(s) which I hope someone / some people will be able to help me with.
I'm in the process of converting my garage into a workshop / work area. In light of enjoying my first forays into stalking so much and needing to have a space to butcher animals somewhere, I've set aside a space about 4-5' square as a hanging area and mounted two strong hooks into the roof ready for the addition of chain, hooks and gambrel when those things arrive in the post. They'll hold 200kg happily enough, so I think I'll be able to accomodate anything I might shoot and bring home.
I plan to progress to culling larger deer in time, but by and large I'll be bringing home smaller animals for eating myself rather than for sending to game dealers. If I shoot any Reds, it's likely that the estate I visit will want to sell them to their regular dealer and I'd certainly struggle to fit a larger animal into the freezer space I've got at the moment! If anything I shoot is going to a game dealer, I'm guessing it'll be dealt with at the estate in their proper facilities and either by myself supervised, or by whoever's guiding me that day. In short, it's unlikley that I'll be responsible for butchering any venison headed into the public food chain - so this post relates to having somewhere to deal with any animals I'm wanting to eat myself.
In view of that, what I'd like to know is how much I need to worry about duplicating all the kit / equipment that I see in the "professional" larder at the estate? Perhaps unwisely, I'm currently reading the DSC1 hygiene & deer diseases stuff, so this may be making me a little bit paranoid about ever eating venison again for fear of contracting anthrax, TB or anything else; I'm sure some shared experience from Stalking Directory members would help put my mind at rest.
To give you an example of where I'm at, the first muntjac I brought home was gralloched / drained / skinned at the estate, immediately after shooting, but then hung for 24 hours on coat hanger wire to cool / dry in my garage before I butchered it the next day. Hopefully that hasn't got any of you gasping in horror at my (inadvertant) bad practice - my wife and I haven't since died from eating it I suppose. That said, it probably never got as cold as (the recommended) 7 celsius and the air probably wasn't entirely dry - the neighbours have a dryer in their side of the garage building and you can sometimes detect a bit of humidity if they have it on for a long time.
(In future, I'll be able to use better equipment for hanging the deer - gambrel / hooks as described above.)
It would be helpful to know how far I need to go towards professional equipment to be safe eating what I bring home. Do I need to buy a proper cooler for chilling animals (probably unaffordable right now), or could I simply rig up an insulated cupboard around the ceiling hooks and put a refigeration unit in the bottom of it to keep the air inside cool? Do I need to worry at all, if the animals are going to be cut up within 24 hours? (I can basically guarantee this, or any shorter time as advised.)
On a related note, if I were to use something like a shower base on top of an effluent tank to catch blood / mess to be disposed of, would that be sufficient or do I need to have the garage plumbed onto the water supply?
Another related note: I have heard that temperature is not the main factor in keeping a carcase safe for eating, but I'm not sure what the most important consideration is if that's true?
Hearing what others have done to prepare their homes / outbuildings for accomodating deer for butchering would be valuable in helping me decide what I can do in my situation. I want to be able to deal with the animals I shoot myself, but I don't want to endanger myself or my wife if I can help it. I'm afraid it's unlikely that I'll be able to set anything up in the house - my wife struggles with the sight of bloody raw meat, let alone anything that looks vaguely like a whole animal - it's disappointing really, but I'd rather like to keep her happy all the same
With thanks for any advice you can offer,