Butchery and charcuterie courses

The butchery and charcuterie courses at Empire Farm are organised by master butcher David Coldman.

As people want to know more about the food they eat, they are also becoming more interested in the preparation of their food, especially butchery. Many food programmes such as the Great British Menu and MasterChef feature wild foods such as rabbit and venison, and some of the cheaper cuts of meats with which many people are unfamiliar. Hopefully our courses will help people to appreciate a whole new range of meats and produce some great meals.

We offer a wide range of courses to suit differing interests. All are suitable for beginners and even ‘old hands’ seem to learn something new and always provide great feedback for the group. You can read some of our feedback.

Read about specific courses below or, to see all the courses currently planned, check out the latest course dates.

Hands-on pork butchery

Our popular hands-on butchery day with David Coldman

Learn butchering skills so you can deal with your own meat. Our hands-on butchery day is very popular so early booking is strongly advised.

At the start of the day, you are provided with half a pig, and you work you way through the meat, butchering it under the guidance of our expert tutor. We end the day with a short sausage-making session, making use of all of the offcuts of meat produced during the butchery. If time permits, we will also cure some bacon.

There are just 4 butchery places available on this course, so you get excellent supervision from our experienced butcher.

The course offers exceptional value as you get to pack up and take home all the meat you have butchered and your batch of sausages, easily worth £150 if you had to buy it all in a supermarket.

Observers – we can accommodate a couple of additional people on this course, either as observers or as a ‘second person’ working on the same piece of meat as one of the people paying the full price. There is a small fee of £50 to cover this.

As few people have asked if they can bring their own pork to butcher which is possible, but please check with David first and obviously there is a different pricing structure.


Most of the course takes place in the butchery which is not heated so warm clothing, woolly hat and thick socks are needed! We provide protective clothing. Please bring 2 or 3 cool boxes in which to take home your meat.

The course starts at 10 am with arrival from 9.40 am and aims to finish at about 5 pm. The price includes all tuition, course notes, refreshments during the day, together with the meat and bones from half a pig (average weight 25-30 kg). Please bring your own lunch.

The course costs £260 and a second person may attend, working on the same side of pork for £50

All bookings are made through Eventbrite

smoked trout

Curing and smoking day

With David Coldman

Ever wanted to know how to cure and smoke your own meat and fish? Then come along to this one day practical hands-on course to find out how.

There’s a growing interest in learning how to become more self-sufficient and gain practical skills and knowledge that can extend the shelf life of food. In this popular and practical course, you’ll be taught how to prepare a wide range of cured meat, fish, and other foods.

It all begins with understanding the basics of salt, preservatives, dry and wet cures and how they can be used to cure salmon, bacon, gammon, ham and other products. The day is a mixture of demonstration and hands-on experience, including the preparation of meat and fish for curing. It incorporates being shown how to use a cold smoker, and you’ll have the opportunity to try out some of the products as well as taking home a range of cured meats and fish. New from autumn 2021, you’ll also get to take home your own personal hot smoking kit, which includes a range of smoking woods, a hot smoking container and a recipe booklet. A comprehensive course hand-out and refreshments are also included.

This is a fascinating day with real-world application, and no previous experience is required.


Course is limited to 6 participants.

Please note the butchery is not heated so warm clothing is required in cold weather.

Protective aprons, overalls and all equipment are provided.

It is advised that you bring a cool-bag or other suitable container to take home the products you prepare.

Thus course costs £195 per person and includes all tuition, hand-outs, cured products to take home, hot smoking kit, and refreshments. Please bring your own lunch.

hands on pork butchery

The whole hog weekend

Learn how meat can be butchered and turned into a wonderful selection of pork products such as bacon, pancetta, ham, coppa, sausage, chorizo, pate and pies, lard and rillettes. This has become one of our best-sellers so don’t delay in booking your place.

Two days looking at pork butchery and charcuterie. The starting point for this course is two halves of pig and over the duration of the course your tutor will show you how this meat can be butchered and turned into a wonderful selection of pork products such as bacon, pancetta, ham, coppa, sausage, chorizo, pate and pies, lard and rillettes

Day 1 starts with pork butchery, an essential part of charcuterie as you need to know about the different cuts and how they can be used. You will be shown how to bone joints and prepare some of the more unusual cuts. Then we move on to processing, starting with  the off-cuts from the  butchery which go into the sausages. We will also tackle chorizo. The day ends with making a pate and some  faggots that will be  eaten for lunch on Sunday.

Day 2 starts with the second half of pig, this time looking at how the butchery for curing is different from that demonstrated on Saturday.  We will use both wet and dry cures in this session  to make a range of cured products such as bacon, pancetta, coppa, guanciale, and gammon. Nothing goes to waste, so the bones and head are boiled to make stock and the meat used in rillettes. And last on the agenda – the pork pie.

You will get to take home some samples of the products made during the course.

This course is great for pig keepers who want to learn what they can do with their pork, for owners of farm shops who want to add value to their meat and to foodies who want to learn to make some great tasting British charcuterie.

Make a weekend of it: come down on Friday night and stay locally. Enjoy a lovely evening meal and then come along to the course on Saturday morning. What could be better- we have a couple of places to suggest, the Ship Inn, a few miles away in West Stour, Dorset, the Stapleton Arms in Buckhorn Weston or the Kings Arms in Charlton Horethorne

The cost for this 2-day course is £260.

Book now

Hands-on lamb butchery

This hands on Lamb Butchery Day is open to all, from complete beginers to smallholders and even chefs looking to add value to their products. This course is very popular and early booking is strongly advised.

Under the guidance of our butchery tutor you’ll learn where the different cuts come from and how to break down the carcass. Using various knife skills you’ll be shown how to bone and roll joints to make showcasing cuts such as guard of honour and lamb cushion. There’ll be opportunity to practice butchers knots to refine presentation and hone your skills. Once the meat is cut up, it is processed into products such as Merguez sausages, lamb ham, and pate.

During the day, we will teach you about salt, preservatives, the use of dry and wet cures and how they can be used to products such as cured salmon, bacon and pancetta, gammon, coppa, air dried ham, bresaola, pastrami,  and biltong.

Part of the day is spent looking at hot and cold smoking, both of which will be demonstrated.   We look at the range of the smokers that are available on the market and how you could make your own one. We also discuss the selection of wood and how each wood imparts a different flavour to meat and fish.  Lunch, of course, features some cured and smoked foods. The day includes a mix of demonstration and hands-on activities and, as on all our courses, you get to take home some of the wonderful foods you have produced during the day.

This is a fascinating day that is bound to make you want to rush home and try curing meat for yourself. Read about previous courses in our farm blog.

We have a special Xmas Curing and Smoking course in December detailed on a different page.


The numbers on these days are limited to 4 so that everybody can see what is going on and ask questions.

Most of the day takes place in the butchery which is not heated so warm clothing and thick socks are needed! We provide protective clothing.

The price of £295 includes all the meat from one lamb, all tuition, course notes, light lunch and refreshments during the day. A second person may attend working on the same carcass for £50

sausage making day course at Empire Farm

Sausage making day

This full-day, fun, information-packed and practical hands on workshop is a popular choice for anyone wishing to learn the craft of sausage making.  

Whether you’re a foodie lover or chef looking for gluten-free recipes, a smallholder wanting to get the best from your produce, a group wishing to learn a new skill, or simply seeking an unusual gift for someone, this course is for you!

The focus is on using ethically sourced meat and ingredients to provide you with the know how and confidence to create your own sausages. Throughout the day you’ll have the opportunity to learn:

  • Knife skills
  • Knowledge and preparation of the various cuts of pork
  • How to use spice and seasonings
  • Sausage stuffing
  • Linking sausages
  • Continental sausage recipes
  • Designing your own sausage recipe

There’ll be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and test out your own recipe by cooking samples of your own sausages which can be shared during lunch, and you’ll be able to take away all the sausages you’ve made throughout the day.

The cost for this  1 day course is £150.

Book now

pork chop

Farm-to-table Butchery Experience

Locally sourced and ethically reared within a 10 mile radius of the farm, this one day hands-on practical experience with David will give you a thorough insight into how the best animal welfare and high provenance of where meat comes from affects the quality of taste.
Our motto is ‘eat less, but better’.

David will teach you traditional skills that have been handed down through generations of butchers. You’ll be guided through the practicalities of butchering a side of pork with an explanation of the various joints and cuts and how they can be used. The day will also include producing your own sausage recipe and bacon.

The day will finish with participants cooking and enjoying a meal together using some of the meat produced. Additionally, everyone will get to take home all their own meat cuts, joints, sausages and bacon.

There are 4 butchery places available on this course, plus space for up to 4 observers for an additional fee.

The cost for this full day course is £275, with £75 for an observer.

Book now


"What impressed me most was how the knowledge and experiences that were shared were more than just fixed, rigid processes. We were provided with a foundation of adaptable skills and information which will evolve and grow with our own tastes"
Mick (Curing and Smoking)
The Soil Association Organic Standard

Office: 01963 371681 Butchery enquires 07837 174106