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It’s that time of year again.  Time when your hamburger is almost gone, and you have eaten your last steak. The freezer is almost bare, well, except for the mink! Before you can make recipes like a great Cheeseburger Pie, CrockPot Lasagna, or yummy roast, you need an awesome piece of beef.  This is where yours truly and our feeder beef come in to play.

Beef cows 8

In addition to being grain farmers, we raise feeder cattle.  We sell quite a bit of freezer beef to family and friends, and throughout the process I have fielded many interesting questions.  I thought I would revisit this process just in case you are interested in buying your meat from a local farmer. This post from last year goes over our set up here in Wallpe World.

Many people ask if our cows are grass fed.

Answer: Well, technically NO.  We feed our cows grass hay and alfalfa, and they do get to graze on the pasture, BUT their main source of nutrition is grain, primarily corn and corn silage.

Beef cows11

Why do we feed grain to our feeder cattle?

Answer:  My best answer is that the taste improves 110% in this girl’s book. Others will agree.  Your beef has to have a bit of fat in it to bring out its natural flavors.  Our cows are not fat, but thanks to the grain they eat, they have good marbling in their steaks and other cuts.

Why buy a quarter, half, or even whole cow to put in your freezer? Say a little prayer, because the English teacher is about to tell you a math story. *Prices of beef fluxuate with the markets and change daily, so be aware that these are loose figures.  Same goes with the size of the cow.

Answer:  Let’s say a cow weighs 1200 lbs. At $1.42 a pound, you can buy the whole cow for $1704.00, or you can buy half of it for $852.00, or you can buy a quarter of it for $426.00. Now the cow is taken to the processor. Let’s work with the quarter of beef. About 63% of a quarter of beef becomes processed meat, and that comes to 189 pounds of nicely packaged meat ready to go into your freezer. Our processor charges around $.50 a pound to cut and package your meat. So….add $150.00 (300 x $.50) to your $426.00, and divide that by the 189 lbs of meat you take home. That all comes to $2.96 a pound for your beef: hamburger to roast to NY Strip.

Another question that pops up more often than you think is, “What quarter of the beef will I get?”

image_20_beefcutsThanks to Beutler Meats for this handy guide to beef cuts!

Answer:  Think of it as sharing jelly beans with four kids, and go with the “One for you, and one for you, and one for you, and one for you!”  The meat is divided by cuts, so if there are 12 round steaks cut, and there are 4 quarters, everyone gets 3 round steaks.  Same with the roasts and hamburger.  Now you all are gonna have to arm wrestle for the organ parts, like heart and tongue.  The liver is divided equally (but you can have my share of that stuff if I’m sharing my quarter with you).

The next question is a logical one: “How much room does a quarter of beef take in my freezer?”

Answer:   About two shelves in an upright.

freezer beef

This is our meat freezer, all nicely defrosted and holding the 1/4 of beef we had processed.

See?

Steaks

steaks

Roasts and short ribs

Roasts and short ribs

Hamburger

Hamburger

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Usually we would have a little less roasts and a little more hamburger, but we are still working on a surplus of hamburger from the last order. Since we do, the chuck roasts, Swiss roasts, and round steaks stay as they are instead of being ground up for more hamburger.

Come on over to my blog here to learn more about ordering your beef.  * Note this linked post is two years old, and the price of beef has gone up since then!

If you can afford the upfront costs, buying a quarter, half, or whole cow is very economical.  You also have a better chance of knowing where your cow was raised and how it was raised.  In addition, having some control of the thickness of your steaks and packaging of your hamburger has advantage to it. The best part of having beef in your freezer?  It’s there for you to use when you want it!

I’m sure there are beef farmers close to many of you.  If this method of buy meat fits into your budget, you too can have a beef section in your very own freezer! Most if not all the people who buy from us say they will not go back to the store for meat again.  Do business with a local farmer, and learn that the answer to the question, “Where’s the Beef?” should be “In my freezer!”

Lana from Walking the Off-Beaten Path

Jill of many trades trying to master them all. After teaching high school English for 18 years, I changed my life to become a farm wife in northwestern Indiana and mom to Tink and Bear.

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  • Lana


    *** I need to add a bit of information about my final cost of beef per pound. My processor looked at my math, and there were a few services I did not figure in like boxes, rendering, and a couple other fees. By his calculations, the final total cost per pound based on the 1/4 of beef I started with is actually $4.99 instead of $2.96! That’s a big jump, but it’s still a great price if you look at meat prices across the cuts. Sorry about the error in calculations, but I always have to warn people when I try to do math on my own!