Researching raising my own beef

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by lvshrs, Nov 6, 2004.

  1. lvshrs

    lvshrs Well-Known Member

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    Hi!

    I am planning on buying some property next year and I am interested in raising a couple of steers for beef. I would like to raise them organic. My questions are where do you get them processed? Do you haul them to the butcher/meat market? How much does this cost? Sorry if this sounds stupid but the only experience I have with processing meat is with deer...It's kind of hard to miss the signs that say deer processing on the taxidermist shops come hunting season... :confused: I'm afraid I'm one of those people who are unable to kill something that I have been feeding and caring for... :eek: Thanks for your replies!
     
  2. PezzoNovante

    PezzoNovante Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago, here in SE Oklahoma, it cost fifteen cents a pound to process, with the processor keeping all the bits you don't take home to eat.

    Best way to find a place is to ask a deer processor or neighbor. Expect it to cost as much as store bought for the finished product -- from getting the steer to sticking a fork in it.

    Check references on the processor as he can ruin good meat. If you are going to the trouble of raising it yourself, see how much extra it would cost to have the meat dry aged prior to freezing.

    You'll need a dry lot to finish the steer -- a place where he can be fed high protein feed for a couple of weeks.
     

  3. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is up to you. Go ahead and do it yourself. You will make misteaks. You will learn. read the charts. just remember when you cut steaks, cut across the grain.
     
  4. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    After you have had the steers a year or more and chased them all over the neighborhood a few times after they get out, you will be mad enough to kill them yourself.
     
  5. Snugglebunny

    Snugglebunny Well-Known Member

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    I have read and re-read Carla Emery's book "Country Encyclopedia", regarding the slaughtering and cleaning of cows and the like. I can fully picture myself slaughtering and cleaning chickens myself, but cannot in the least picture it with something as big as a cow (even though I plan to have Dexters - and only a milk cow at that with the occasional calf for beef).

    For example, what do you do with all the parts (innards and head) that you don't want or can't use?

    At the same time, however, I also understand how pricey it can be to have the cow slaughtered...it seems an awful lot of trouble to go through for a small homesteader like I plan to be - only slaughtering a year-old calf once a year. Not much sense in spending hundreds for something like that.
     
  6. lvshrs

    lvshrs Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info everyone!

    PezzoNovante -Why do you have to "finish" a steer on a dry lot? From what I have read if you are raising organic you keep them on grass till slaughter time. :confused:


    tinknal-I think I am too soft hearted to do it myself but thanks for the support! :eek:



    uncle Will in In. -LOL...If your right I might just take tinknal's advice and do it myself! :haha:



    Snugglebunny -The only reason I can even consider having my own steer slaughtered for me is I love beef and I want to know what I am eating. If you look up organic beef others are selling it cost almost twice as much at the store than regular beef! Then considering that my whole family loves beef too anything I can't fit in the freezer will be great gifts for the family! :D
     
  7. PezzoNovante

    PezzoNovante Well-Known Member

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    Finishing a steer on feed is a matter of flavor. You also want to add muscle and for that you need a higher protein content that you can get from forage alone. Slaughtering a grass fed steer would likely have a much lower yield -- ratio of usable meat weight to on-the-hoof weight, which raises the price per pound of finished product.

    To me, organic beef would be grass fed on native grasses with only basic antibiotics to keep the animal healthy and de-wormed. No growth hormones. As for the feed, I get it from a local mill, not worth it to try to mix up your own.

    Also, you should know ahead of time what cuts you want from the carcass. Rib eyes or roasts, but not both. When I last did it, which was a long time ago, my partner and I decided on dividing the carcass up between good steaks and ground meat. Pricey hamburger, but very good flavor.
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Organic beef is not grass finished, though it could be. There is nothing in the organic rules that say you can't finish on grain, but the grain has to be organic itself. There are pages and pages of rules on how to be organic.

    I pay around $200-250 to have a steer slaughtered, cut and wrapped. It's well worth the money in my opinion. Look for meat lockers, custom processors and the like in your phone book. Ask the deer guys where to take a steer.

    It's $40 kill fee, .32/pound hanging weight, plus extras for things like burger patties, tenderizing round steaks, etc.

    Jena
     
  9. lvshrs

    lvshrs Well-Known Member

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    PezzoNovante -Thanks for the info! Most of the books and other forums that I have visited have not been helpful at all.

    Jena- Thanks for your help and info!

    Everyone has really made clear answers that make it so much easier to get going in the right direction! I just found this forum last week and have been reading the archives. I love it! I hope to have my own place soon and would like to minimize surprises (Gee I didn't realize that this or that would be so hard/expensive/time-consuming/etc. :eek: ) I like to go in with my eyes wide open! Thanks again and have a wonderful day! :D
     
  10. pygmywombat

    pygmywombat Well-Known Member

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    We just raised our first calf for beef. Our milk cow had a bull calf and we didn't find out until after he was castrated that a bunch of people were interested in him as a herd bull. So we raised him for 12 months, he nursed until the day he left and got only pasture and hay. He was a pure bred Guernsey and weighed over 1000 pounds at butchering.

    We found a local butcher who would do the whole nine yards, keep him overnight, butcher, hand, cut, package. We borrowed a trailer, loaded him ourselves, dropped him off on a Tuesday afternoon. They kill Wednesday mornings. They hung the carcass for 14 days and flash froze all the meat. It was vacuum packed, USDA inspected. The whole thing cost $350. We got back 400 pounds of meat, hanging weight was 527 lbs.

    The meat is very good, very tender, mild, and lean. We are big into venision and it is very similar. I think we lucked out on his size, most Guernsey steers are used for veal or hamburger, people don't like them because of yellow, external fat and they don't get as big as fast like beef breeds or some of the dairy breeds.

    Claire
     
  11. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jersey meat is the same way. I love Jersey meat!
    :)
    Hoping I can convince dad to let us raise one of our bull calves for meat. Maybe a Jersey/Norwegian Red cross. They would only be 1/8 N.R. so it wouldn't change it much.
    With so many animals calving in late Nov./early Dec. and four more at the end of January we will have good aged steers to put ou to pasture next spring.
     
  12. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    We have a custom butcher come right to the farm when the steers are around 1400-1600 lbs. They process the cow right in the field from a very well equipped refrigerated truck.
    I think the last kill charge I paid was $45. and they charge .43 per lb hanging weight to cut and wrap to the customers requirements with extra charges for patties, etc.
    The cut and wrap the customer pays for, I only cover the kill cost, I only sell halves or whole hanging carcasses, and they are hung for fourteen days before being cut and wrapped.
    The butcher takes everything left over to a renderer and never leaves any mess or parts in the field, they are very good about this.
    The steers are sold before the butcher is ever called.
    Make sure you check the butchers references as fifty percent of how that beef tastes is under his control, get a bad butcher and say goodbye to your customers.
    "Finishing" is necessary with grain or another high quality feed regardless of whether you wish organic or not, best to feed from 45 to 60 days prior to butcher.
    And funny thing is no matter how you try, its hard to not get attached to some steers and are kind of sad to see them go, we share turns when the butcher truck comes and rarely hang around to watch.
    But that feeling is nothing compared to selling them at auction underpriced, and feeling bad about giving away good animals that you worked hard to bring up, I sold two steers last year that left me feeling sick to my stomach after the lousy price I got by the old boy club who hang out at these auctions.
    I for one will never sell at an auction again, or buy for that matter.
     
  13. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind when figuring your costs that beef breeds will grow faster and yield more meat. Dairy breeds are cheaper to buy in the beginning as calves.

    A typical steer will hang at 60% of live weight and you lose 20-30% of that to trim loss. So a 1200 pound steer should hang at 720 and you should get around 540 pounds of meat (I used 25% trim loss).

    I slaughter mine at around 1200 pounds and 14-16 months of age. The older they get, the more tough the meat can get (that is not the only factor). If they go to the sale barn, they go at 1300-1500 pounds.

    Jena
     
  14. stormwalker

    stormwalker Well-Known Member

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    Is dry aging the meat doing more than concentrating the flavor by losing water?
     
  15. PezzoNovante

    PezzoNovante Well-Known Member

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    There are also enzymes at work.