2023 Maine Meat Cutting School

cutting steak on stainless steel counter

A Three-Day Course in Professional Meat Cutting/Processing

May 10, 11, and 12, 2023

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension is working with the School of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and the University of Kentucky to offer a three-day course in professional meat cutting/processing, with a third day set aside for any spillover and classroom learning objectives. This course includes both classroom and hands-on training.

Dr. Matthew Highlands Pilot Plant, Room 165, Hitchner Hall on the corner of Sebago Road and Portage Road, University of Maine campus, Orono. (Directions)

Jump to: Instructors | Details for Each Day | Topics Covered | Certificate and Micro-Badge

Registration Closed: This class is full. 

To be added to a waiting list please email Melissa Libby  melissa.libby1@maine.edu or call 207.581.2788.

The Maine Meat Cutting School has a limited seating capacity (16) to ensure participants have maximum hands-on learning and without overcrowded classroom space. Anyone interested in professional meat processing, especially young professionals interested in a career in meat cutting/processing. However, this is a tremendous opportunity for livestock producers interested in learning more about meat cutting and processing.

A total of sixteen participants will be broken up into two groups of eight.

Participants will learn about: History of US meat production, consumer trends, humane handling and slaughter of livestock, meat quality, food safety, labeling, and customer service. In addition, participants will have hands-on training with swine cutting, as well as, sausage making. Students will have the opportunity to tour professional/commercial meat processing facilities.

What is different this year? The University of Maine Dr. Matthew Highlands Pilot Plant was licensed as a custom meat processing facility. This allows us to offer this training to a larger group of participants. We have classroom space on campus to accommodate learning in a much more comfortable environment. Also, the meat cutting room is more spacious so participants will have an easier time interacting with the instructor and each other. However, the greatest benefit is that will be able to source more animals for the hands-on cutting portion of the class so participants will get to cut more animals than in previous cutting schools.


Instructors include Dr. Gregg Rentfrow, Associate Extension Professor, and Meat Science Specialist for the University of Kentucky; Dr. Colt Knight, Assistant Professor of Extension and State Livestock Specialist for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension;  Certified Executive Chef Robert Dumas, Food Science Innovation Coordinator and Facility Manager at the University of Maine; and  Dr. Jennifer Eberly, State Veterinarian, Maine Meat and Poultry Inspection.

Details for Each Day

  • On the first day, one group will work with Dr. Rentfrow and Chef Dumas to witness a live cutting demo on how to properly break down a pork side into primals, retail cuts, and sausage. Then participants will break down their own pig side in pairs. This includes quartering, creating primal cuts, fabricating retail cuts, making and forming sausage, packaging, and clean-up. Following the pork breakdown, we will repeat the process with lamb. Participants will watch Dr. Rentfrow break down a side, then they will get to break down their own side in pairs. The second group will accompany Dr. Knight to tour local processing facilities and farms to learn more about commercial operations and low-stress animal handling skills.
  • On the second day, the groups will switch.
  • The third day will be held in reserve if cutting or tours run longer than expected to finish up and go over some important classroom learning objectives such as meat Inspection and HAACP plans. Dr. Jennifer Eberly will discuss Meat Inspection and answer questions about meat inspection and inspected facilities.

Participants will also get access to the upcoming Virtual Maine Meat Cutting School, an online course that covers the complete breakdown of Beef, Lamb, and Pork in high-quality 4K video so you won’t have to worry about forgetting what you learned during the in-person training.

University of Maine System Maine Meat Cutting School Micro Credential Badge artworkParticipants will receive a 6″ boning knife.

Everyone who successfully completes this course will receive both a certificate of completion and a digital micro-badge (shareable via email or social media) from the University of Maine/University of Maine System for the Maine Meat Cutting School.

Topics Covered:

  • History of Meat and USDA Meat Inspection
  • Consumer Trends
  • Humane Handling
  • Hands-On: Knife Safety; Sanitation/Cleanup
  • Meat Quality-Color
  • Food Safety and Personal Health
  • Common Pathogens in Meats and the Meat Room
  • Swabbing Activity
  • Meat Quality-Fat/Marbling
  • Labeling
  • What is HACCP?
  • Pork Processing Laboratory
  • Meat Quality-Tenderness
  • Proper Handling of Animals Before Slaughter and the Proper Process of Killing
  • How Much Meat to Expect From Each Species
  • Sausage and Processed Meats
  • Meat Inspection and Sales
  • Touring of Meat Processing Facilities

Directions to Hitchner Hall, UMaine Campus, Orono

Questions? Contact Melissa Babcock at melissa.libby1@maine.edu or 207.581.2788 or 1.800.287.7170 (in Maine)

If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this program, please call Melissa Babcock at 207.581.2788 or 1.800.287.7170 (in Maine) to discuss your needs. Receiving requests from accommodations at least 10 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however, all requests will be considered.