University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

University of Kentucky Meat Cutting School

Contact:  Gregg Rentfrow

In the past, meat cutting schools dotted the landscape with the most famous school located in Toledo, OH. Students at these schools would spend several weeks gaining hands-on experience harvesting animals and fabricating carcasses, along with learning about the meats and livestock industries. The introduction of boxed meats in the 1970’s ushered the meats industry into a new era. Boxed meats are easier to cut and do not require a prior knowledge of carcass anatomy. Meat cutting schools closed as skilled cutters were no longer needed. The responsibility of training and teaching new meat cutters fell upon the senior meat cutters. However, over the years knowledgeable, properly trained meat cutters became fewer and fewer in numbers.

The UK Meat Cutting School offered a two or three day workshop designed for retail meat cutters. The participants learned about the meats and livestock industries in the morning classes and participated in cutting demonstrations in the afternoon. Furthermore, the retail
cutters observed an animal (beef or pork) being harvested, which was a first for the majority of the students. Over 500 retail meat cutters from five states participated in the class and the grocery stores indicated a reduced turnover of meat cutters along with improved customer service.

The UK Meat Cutting School works one-on-one with Kentucky’s meat processors.  There are very few skilled meat cutters; therefore meat processors are hiring unskilled employees. In addition, meat processors want to add-value to their operations by offering the new beef cuts like the Flat Iron Steak, the Shoulder Tender Medallion, the Denver Cut, and the Ranch Cut. The UK Meat Cutting School works with meat processors to train new meat cutters and demonstrate how to fabricate the new beef cuts.

Consumers and farmers are becoming more interested in how meat is fabricated as well as learning more about the new beef cuts. The UK Meat Cutting School has performed meat cutting demonstrations in several Kentucky counties (22 counties) as well as
demonstrations and trainings in other states (North Carolina 2, Tennessee 2, New York 1; California 1). The cutting demonstrations have become very popular and have raised awareness of the new beef cuts and provided audience a chance to ask questions about the
meats and livestock industries.

The UK Meat Cutting School is poised to expand services in the future. Restaurant chefs are becoming more interested in processing their own carcasses and turning the trimmings into dry-cured sausages (charcuterie) or dry-cured, prosciutto-style hams. Future
workshops are planned to train chefs on proper charcuterie techniques to produce wholesome, safe, high-quality dry-cured meat products. Furthermore, the majority of the Commonwealth’s meat processors offer very little or no further processed meats such as Summer Sausage, flavored bacons, or boneless hams. The UK Meat Cutting School will be offering more processed meats workshops which will allow processors to expand services to survive through a struggling economy.