The way Doug Havel slaughters is a simple routine.

Ushering in a 700-pound sow from a sheltered holding pen in the next room with a few slaps on her rear, Havel shuts her in a 4-by-10-foot pen in the slaughter room.

The sow had been raised by Havel’s brother about 15 miles south of the shop on the family farm. Pigs are optimally slaughtered when they are six months old and weigh around 250 pounds. This sow’s breeding career was finished and, though age has toughened her meat, she now has no value to her owner outside of the meat market.

I watched as Havel lifted the .22-caliber rifle from the rack that runs along the east wall above an assortment of meat hooks and walks towards her head. With a quiet, almost whispered, “pss-pss-pss,” Havel coaxed the animal’s eyes — and more importantly, forehead — towards him, he aimed and pulled the trigger.

A .22 round has enough power to penetrate the skull of the pigs, sheep, cattle, and farm-raised elk Havel slaughters, but not to exit. Instead, it rattles around inside, cutting the brain into ribbons.

The sound following the rifle’s hiss is like a heavy playground ball slapping wet cement. The animal just drops to the floor.

It doesn’t always happen this way. Occasionally the victim will move just as Havel pulls the trigger or the animal’s skull is too thick for the bullet to puncture. Sometimes a second, third or fourth shot is necessary.

But this time, a well-placed bullet, right into the center of the pig’s brain, sent the beast reeling. Her eyes rolled back into her head, her expression reminding me of Jim Carrey reacting to a swift kick to the balls, and blood started to trickle out of her nostrils. There was no squealing or screaming, but she did convulse, kicking the metal wall, scratched and dented from the thousands of others that had preceded her. Havel replaced the rifle in the rack and picked up a curved 7-inch knife and cut open the sow’s jugular, releasing a gush of bright red blood.

It had been just six seconds since he pulled the trigger.

The sooner the animal’s major bloodway is opened, the better. The heart continues to beat for several minutes, pushing blood from the body. If the pig isn’t completely drained, bloodspots will form in the meat. Sometimes the beast’s back leg muscles will be so tensed that the blood vessels will pop as if suffering a coronary. After two and a half minutes, the sow’s muscles relax and she ceases to move.

Havel wrapped a chain around the sow’s back legs, attached her to a winch and hoisted her until her head was suspended two feet above the ground. He slid a stretcher-like rack under her and lowered her until her back rests on it. Havel took his knife to an orange-handled honing steel, held the sow’s head back and cut out the tongue and put it in a bucket of water for later. He grabbed the sow’s right ear and cut off her head. He tossed it into a 50-gallon gray bucket marked “inedible.” [Watch Havel prepare a hog for processing]

Feet quickly followed the head into the bucket, each limb being partially cut and then snapped off with the crunch of bone, cartilage and ligaments.

These gut- and blood-filled tubs will be collected by a meat by-products company in top-loading trucks that resemble enormous garbage trucks. The company converts this offal into pet food, livestock feed and rendered fat.

Without head or feet, the pig no longer looked like a pig. But as one large unskinned carcass, it didn’t look like pork, either. Over the next 20 minutes, Havel shaped the pig into something again recognizable, this time as food.

Havel ran a knife along the pig’s chest and, using a wide-bladed skinning knife, separated the pale pink hide from the creamy white lard. He’s particularly careful when he reaches the belly. While fat is trimmed off of most pork cuts, the belly is the source of bacon and a gouge here would lead to strip after strip of unsightly meat.

With the entire belly bare, Hovel used a saw that looks like an enlarged electric meat knife, to tear through the front of the ribcage and the back of the pelvis. The steaming guts and the rest of the skin are removed and the carcass is hung by its shanks and sawed in half down the backbone with an even larger saw.

And then it was done. What began as a nearly 700-pound animal was now two steaming 220-pound halves of pork. But even after Havel had shot, stuck, skinned and split the sow, her muscles continued to twitch.

At first, I thought the movement was an illusion, a combination of the light, water dripping down the hosed-off carcass and my own adrenaline. As I leaned in closer, I realized it was not. The twitching continued for about half an hour.

After the meat has cooled, Havel or one of his employees will cut the carcass into primal cuts before breaking it down further into bacons and hams, chops and ribs.