Want to invest in your food security - and your farmer? Consider buying in bulk.
Which skills have you learned through trial and error?
As relatively new farmers, I think we've learned everything this way! Especially when it comes to raising grass-feed beef.
Just because an animal looks ready, or seems to be the targeted weight, doesn't mean that quality of the meat will necessarily meet your standards. Things like marbling, fat quality and content, and tenderness - these can only be judged after you've harvested the animal. And for young farmers like us, it can take some trial and error to get it right.
This is why many grass-fed farmers talk about farming as both an art and a science. There's the calculations about what should happen. And then there's the intuition you develop, over time, that tells you whether these calculations are correct.
So what's one thing we've learned by trial and error?
That in our climate and region, with our particular land resources, it's best to harvest our beef in the fall.
How did we reach this decision?
Most grass-fed cattle are processed at around 2 years of age. Given that our steers are born in the fall, that's one calculation. But another requires the intimate knowledge of our land - what grows, and when, to produce the highest quality meat.
In our region, the dominant grass is fescue, a cool-season grass that grows in the spring and fall, but is dormant in the summer. Here's another calculation. Our cows are going to put on their best weight - and get the best fat quality and marbling - during the cooler months.
So, we've made a shift in our processing. Rather than butcher cattle year-round, as we have in the past, we're moving to exclusively processing in the fall.
What does this mean for you?
- You'll receive the highest quality beef. Animals will be harvested at the right time, and at the right age.
- Your beef will be processed at the most economical price. Harvesting animals before the winter, which produces additional hay and labor costs, means we can keep the lowest possible price for you.
- You'll have a predictable schedule to know when to bulk up on beef products, and when to prioritize buying beef.
But this also means that we're encouraging you to consider buying your beef in bulk - either a whole or half animal - this fall.
Buying in bulk is a significant commitment. But we also believe it's the best option for you - for your budget, for your food security, and for your long-term relationship with and investment in the farmer.
Buying in bulk can also foster community relationships. Not going to eat that much meat? That's okay - go in a whole or half cow with a friend, or even a group of friends.
To help you in these considerations, I'm providing an exclusive educational series on buying in bulk.
When you sign up for this series, you'll receive detailed information about the benefits of buying in bulk, budget calculations, questions to ask yourself, and information on how to collaborate with others.
There's no commitment required - just click below and sign up to be put on the list. Even if you don't think you can buy in bulk now, this series can help you plan for the future. And while you're there, check out our beef bulk page, which has specific information you may find helpful while planning.
Ready to learn more? Sign up here.