Since adding cattle to our small farm we have been building the herd. The day is finally here where we have more than we can consume, so we can finally sell the surplus. Since we don’t have a ready market waiting we have to try our hand at sales. I figured my thoughts on this process would be helpful to those in a similar position or those hoping to be in the future. As I have mentioned before we plan on building our herd to 50 cow calf pairs. Before we get to that point we need to make sure we will not be doing all this work at a loss.
In my previous post MDCA Dexter Sale Report I had given my thoughts on what the value of a Dexter steer was. I will know a lot more in the future, until then I have to go on the best information I have available.
My cattle are grass fed and finished with no added hormones, antibiotics or vaccines. I do my best to raise a healthy natural steer. Checking on prices I have found a wide variance on ways to sell beef. From selling based on live weight, hanging weight, or finished product. I have also seen where the butcher fees are included in the price or added to the price. In selecting the way I wanted to sell my beef I wanted no hidden costs. Most sales of beef are going to be made to city dwellers that have no experience with butchering beef. Those living in the country with experience are usually not in the market to buy as they have their own.
To make things as straight forward for my buyer as possible I didn’t want to tack on the butcher’s fee to the price. I wanted my price to be as easy to determine what you were actually getting as possible. The downfall is my prices may seem higher than what others are charging even though they are usually much cheaper. For example if I am selling my beef at $3.50 a pound with the butcher fees included and others are advertising their beef at $2 a pound live weight or even $3.00 a pound for the hanging weight they may seem cheaper to the un-informed. Those prices are soon inflated by the time the butcher fees are tacked on. When you figure out how much meat is actually yielded versus the live weight you can also be in for a big surprise.
I would ideally like to offer packages in the future with the weight of the butchered meat clearly stated. For example a 75 pound variety pack of meat that includes hamburger, steak and stew meat. I would price my packages at a $200 starting price so that I don’t spend my time selling small amounts. At the current time we don’t have the space for the freezers necessary to store the meat, so that leaves us with selling it directly from the butcher. The easiest way to sell directly from the butcher is to price off the hanging weight. Most butchers don’t actually weigh the finished product.
To set my price I searched to find what others close to me were selling their beef for. Primarily focusing on grass fed beef. From what I gleaned I have decided to offer my beef at $3.50 a pound based off the hanging weight with no hidden costs. I will pay the butcher fees and everything else needed. This makes it very easy to figure with no surprises for my customer. It also makes it less expensive than any other grass fed beef I could find advertised on Craigslist.
So if you are interested in grass fed and finished beef in the Macon Missouri area it is now available at Lewis Family Farm. Our steers are finished on a prime pasture of brome, clover, timothy and fescue. We still need to make final plans with our butcher but will be selling halves and maybe 1 quarters at $3.50 a pound. I am guessing the hanging weight will be 350-400 lbs so that would make a half $612 and a quarter $306. Contact us through the for sale page.
On our farm we have a naming theme going on for our cattle. Our first big year for calving was 2014 when we started naming each calf with the first letter of the month it was born in. So for August we had heifer calf August and bull calf Aaron. For 2015 we used the second letter of the month. That is why in September of 2015 we named a bull calf emperor and a heifer calf Emma Rose. For 2016 we are using the third letter of the month and will continue with this theme until 2020.
After 2020 I am open to suggestions. I like the current naming theme but once it starts wrapping around it will get harder to do the math in your head. I have considered in 2020 starting with the letter A and going down alphabetically. Maybe even using middle names to denote month. For example the year 2020 would be A and the month of February would be B giving a name like Aaron Boy. We have not decided on a theme and I would be interested in other farms naming systems.