What sets my beef apart from the rest starts with my choice of breed and continues with how they live and what they eat.
I decided on Belted Galloway to start my venture into cattle because they are calm, good natured and take to 'strip grazing' readily. Additionally, being a Scottish breed developed to survive harsh winters in spite of poor grass conditions, I figured they would do well on our 'needing improvement' pasture.
Different breeds of cattle store fat differently and the Belted Galloway is known for their lean muscle meat. Plus, because they grow a heavy winter coat, they don't need as much back fat as other breeds; resulting in a much healthier red meat.
Most beef for sale these days come from animals fed corn and/or other grains. Even those that are pastured are usually 'finished' on grain to put on weight before they are processed. (More weight equals more money... regardless of quality.) Learn more about Grass Fed/Finished Beef below.
My cattle never get corn, hormones or antibiotics. They live solely on pasture (with a supplement of Thorvin Kelp, sea salt and bicarbonate of soda) -- year round. I have hay harvested from my pasture (or a trusted, like-minded source) and feed that back to the cattle during the winter while allowing them to graze for tidbits they may have missed earlier in the year.
I use Management Intensive Grazing (commonly known as strip grazing or mob grazing) to get the highest efficiency from the small amount of land I have. The Belted Galloway is a medium-frame cow and that translates to being able to have more of them per acre for even more efficient use of pasture.
I would rather sell a smaller amount of meat of high quality than a lot of low quality meat. This is because I am DEVOTED to providing my customers the healthiest and tastiest beef possible.
All this boils down to a higher price for grass fed/finished beef. I may never understand how the beef producers can charge so little for their feedlot/grain finished beef.
Mine is a small farm and I currently maintain one (1) bull, three (3) cow/calf pairs and two (2) beef steers.
Belted Galloway Cattle, a breed that converts grass/foliage to meat very efficiently and is both winter and summer hardy.
Here are some articles I found via the internet that have some great information about the healthy aspects of Belted Galloway meat:
Info on Grass fed/finished beef:
How to cook Grass fed/finished beef:
I started this cattle adventure in 2013. You can read all about the beginning in 'Farming : Adventures in Cattle, Vol. 1',
an Archived Website PDF in the General Store. The 2015 portion of these adventures are found here and the current 2016 story is on a separate page
(click here for current adventure).
HOW TO BUY PLAYHAVEN FARM LLC'S GRASS FED/FINISHED BEEF
Beef is sold through 'Cowpooling' and 2017 shares must be purchased by July 15.*
2017 SHARES ARE NOW AVAILABLE.
The 2017 price for Cowpooling Shares is $4.00 lb/live weight
(assuming a 700 lb beef animal at processing time).
You can purchase a share in one of the 2017 beef animals. Send in your deposit with the order form NOW! Thankfully, I am able to offer my stock at the same price as in 2016.
You can also indicate on the Order Form what size Share you anticipate wanting in 2018 so I can have adequate stock on hand. Please and Thank You. You can get the Order Form by sending an email or making a phone call... see the "Contact Us" page.
The Newsletter and Yearly Order Form goes out sometime in February each year. The time between the order form going out and the deadline is only a couple weeks and I do that to encourage you to NOT DELAY your decision making.
I understand that most people are not used to ordering their meat several months prior to receiving it and especially not accounting for an entire year. I also understand that for some people the large outlay of money can be problematic. This is why it is good to plan ahead; for example, you could use a 'Christmas Account' method of putting the money needed for next year's order into a savings account each month. That way, the money is available to buy the next year's beef (chicken, etc.).
I instituted a deposit requirement in 2014. When you send in your order, please also send a check for HALF the total. I do not ship and you are agreeing to pick up your beef at the processing plant, at which time you will pay the balance due. I am not set-up to take credit cards this year... please do not send cash through the mail.
*Depending on how many Shares are sold on a cow, there may be meat that is owned only by PlayHaven Farm LLC. If that is the case, that meat will be packaged at a USDA processor and MAY be available for sale directly.
‘Cowpooling’ is when multiple people own shares in a live beef animal. This is how we small livestock producers can sell directly to you, the consumer, while staying within the law. Your share is based on how much of the animal you want: the whole thing, half of it, a quarter (split-half). When the time comes to process the animal, you pick up your share from the processor and pay them for that service (usually no more than $0.75/lb hanging weight). You will also pay any balance due to us at that time. In 2017, I will again be sending the beef to be processed in June by Paradise Locker Meats in Trimble MO.
FIGURING OUT THE PRICE (Don’t worry if it takes you a few times reading this to ‘get it’.)
When the beef animal is delivered to the processor it comes in with a ‘live weight’. That is generally an estimate by the farmer because most of us don’t have scales big enough to actually weigh the live animal.
The processor will remove the hide, head, hooves and tail along with the insides and what is left is called the carcass (or meat) which is measured with a ‘hanging weight’. Typically, the hanging weight is about 60% of the live weight. (The organ meats are not included in this weight.) From the hanging weight, you can expect to receive 65 to 70% of packaged meat due to shrinkage, the removal of bones, the type of cuts and trim waste.
FOR EXAMPLE: Assuming the beef animal will have a live weight around 700 lbs. and using $4.00 per lb/live weight; here’s the math of how what you pay for live weight and processing translates to what you spend per pound in total for meat: **Please note the example IS using the 2017 Price per lb/live weight.***
Whole Share: 700 lbs X $4.00 = $2,800 to PlayHaven Farm LLC
700 X 60% = 420 lbs Hanging Weight
420 X 70% = 294 lbs Packaged Weight
Processing Fee: 420 X $0.75 = $315 to the processor
Results: $2,800 + $315 = $3,115 ÷ 294 lbs = $10.60/lb
Half Share: 700 ÷ 2 = 350 lbs X $4.00 = $1,400 to PlayHaven Farm LLC
700 X 60% ÷ 2 = 210 lbs Hanging Weight
210 X 70% = 147 lb Packaged Weight
Processing Fee: 210 X $0.75 = $157.50 to the processor
Results: $1,400 + $157.50 = $1,557.50 ÷ 147 lbs = $10.60 lb
Split-Half Share: 700 ÷ 4 = 175 lbs X $4.00 = $700 to PlayHaven Farm LLC
700 X 60% ÷ 4 = 105 lbs Hanging Weight
105 X 70% = 73.5 lb Packaged Weight
Processing Fee: 105 X $0.75 = $78.75 to the processor
Results: $700 + $78.75 = $778.75 ÷ 73.5 lbs = $10.60 lb
My 2017 price is $4.00 per pound/live-weight. You are purchasing a Share in a Live Animal which is why the price is for live-weight. Please see the ‘Figuring the Price’ example.
◊◊◊ A deposit equal to half of the total using the estimated live weight ◊◊◊
◊◊◊ is required with order and the balance is due when you pick up your meat. ◊◊◊
According to my spreadsheet $4.00/lb live weight translates to $6.67/lb hanging weight and $9.52/lb package weight (because the percentages between the stages don’t change), not including processing. I encourage you to shop around! The current price for grass fed/finished HAMBURGER in my local grocery store is $10.00/lb and premium cuts go up from there. If you can find comparable beef for a lower price, be sure it is truly comparable and buy it!
I won’t know the actual hanging weight until the processor tells me. SO, it is entirely possible that the grand total will be different from the example, but the price per pound total won’t change. For example, if the hanging weight is actually 480 lbs then the balance due will be higher and if it is 390, the balance due to PlayHaven Farm LLC will be lower. The example is an ESTIMATE of what you can expect to pay.
The processor will contact each share-owner to determine all the particulars about your meat and they will also set the date for you to pick up your portion of meat et al.
Here is a suggestion to help reduce the problem of paying for your yearly amount of meat in two (2) lump payments:
Figure out what you want to buy next time, how much it will cost in total and divide that total by 12. (You may need to buy a freezer or get a meat locker, so include that cost as well.) Then, set up a "Meat Account" (I use a savings account at my bank.) into which you put the money you came up with (when you divided by 12) into your Meat Account every month. That way you will have saved enough money to cover your years worth of meat ahead of time and it won't be a big strain on your budget all at once.
WHOLE/HALF/SPLIT-HALF… HOW MUCH SHOULD I GET?
When figuring how much to get, you’ll want to take some things into account:
- How much space do I have to store it?
- How long will it withstand freezer burn?
- How much can I afford?
My beef is a seasonal item because I only have a few animals and take them in one trip to be processed. I am not a warehouse… so when you get beef from me you are ordering a bulk amount and storing it yourself. Therefore, you will need freezer (or meat locker) space enough for whatever you order. A rule of thumb is one cubic foot of freezer space for each 35-40 pounds of cut and wrapped meat. Allow slightly more space when the meat is packaged in odd shapes.
The processor we are using packs the meat so it will last up to a year in a good freezer.
If you cannot buy a Cowpooling Share this year, but plan to do so next year, please indicate on the Order Form what size Share so I can have adequate stock on hand. Please and Thank You.
WHAT IF DEMAND EXCEEDS SUPPLY?
If there is more interest in the Belted Galloway grass fed/finished beef than I currently have to sell, I know a couple of farms who also have Belted Galloway (and/or crosses) that I should be able to purchase stock from to fulfill your orders. I trust these people and know they are as finicky about their grass fed/finished beef as we are. I would buy them ‘on the hoof’ and send them with our steer(s) to be custom processed.
I will fulfill shares (first received, first served) from my stock first and those people are guaranteed the price quoted. Purchasing additional stock may necessitate that I increase my price to fulfill the remaining shares. If that is the case, I WILL CONTACT everyone affected to allow them the opportunity to withdraw their order, if they choose.
HOW YOU GET YOUR SHARE
I have to schedule processing several months in advance. As soon as I know the hanging weight, I will contact you with the amount that is due to PlayHaven Farm LLC. The processor will contact each share-owner to determine all the particulars about your meat and they will also set the date for you to pick up your portion of meat et al.
WHAT WILL I GET IN MY SHARE?
I’ve included the standard diagram of what cuts come from where for beef. As stated previously, the Split-Half is a combination of cuts from both the front and back quarters resulting in the same cuts as you get from a Half, only less of everything. Use the diagram to talk with the processor so you know what you will be bringing home.
If you are getting a Whole or a Half share, you will need to provide instructions to the processor with exactly how you want the meat cut and packaged (to assure you get the correct serving sizes for your family and that your favorite steaks are included in the processing order).
If you are getting a Split-Half, you will not be able to provide specific cutting instructions, but instead will be required to take normal cutting and packaging. This is because the back quarter of the beef contains different cuts than the front quarter, so simply purchasing a quarter doesn't give you the full selection of cuts you would expect. Thus, Split-Halves are partially from the front quarter, and partially from the back quarter, for a full selection. Thus you are 'splitting' the side with another share-owner.
WHAT ABOUT THE ORGANS? (Update: October 2016)
Once again, an excellent question. It is very difficult to evenly distribute the organs in this Cowpooling scenario; therefore, they are not included in it at all. Buying a share in one of our Cowpooled Belted Galloway Steers gets you a share of the muscle meat (also suet and bones, if you like).
In 2016 the following is available:
- Tongue (will only be sold whole) -- SOLD OUT
- Liver -- See "Retail Beef For Sale"
- Heart (will only be sold whole) -- SOLD OUT
- Sweatbread (will only be sold whole) -- SOLD OUT
- Kidney (will only be sold whole) -- See "Retail Beef For Sale"
- Oxtail (will only be sold whole) -- SOLD OUT
- Suet (not refined) -- See "Retail Beef For Sale"