Q: What kind of beef do you raise?
A: We raise Red Angus grass fed baby beef. They’re not actually babies anymore, but yearlings. Usually beef is butchered at around 1.5 to 2 years old, but we butcher ours at just over a year old, therefore it is called baby beef. Baby beef is more tender, moist and full of flavor. We believe the taste of grass fed yearling beef is tremendously better and it also fits into our operations better. We chose the Red angus breed because red anguses are calm and do really well on grass. Though you cannot see the famous angus marbling in our steaks, there’s a lot of healthy clear fats (Omega 3 oils) through our steaks that will make for a delicious, pan fried steak. Definitely try our porterhouse steak, it’s heavenly.
Q: What kinds of cuts would we get?
A: That’s the awesome thing about buying locker beef.* YOU get to choose what cuts you get and which parts of the beef you would rather just have ground up. Some of the standard steak cuts are the T-bone steaks, porterhouse steaks, sirloin steaks, sirloin tip steaks, round steaks, rib steaks, short rib steaks and the flank steaks. Then there’s also roasts from the chuck and rump areas, such as the round bone roast, chuck roast, rib roast, cross rib roast, and rump roast.
If there are any roasts or steaks you do not want, you simply tell the butcher you prefer that into ground beef. That’s the awesome thing about locker beef, it’s tailored to your preferences. Here is a handy chart that will help you understand what kind of cuts will be able to get.
*All 1/4s are a standard cut. A standard cut is up to the butcher but the tender parts will be cut into steaks, the flavorful but tougher areas will go to roasts and the rest will go to ground beef.
Q: Can I have it all ground into ground beef?
Yes, you could, but if you just buy locker beef to get cheap ground beef, you are mistaken. See, when the butcher has to cut out all the bones, a lot of the weight is lost because you pay for the hanging weight, not the packaged weight. If you want cheap all natural ground beef, you are better off buying it from the grocery store. Now if you want delicious and very nutritious ground beef that is raised locally from animals that you know for certain are treated very well every day of their life, our ground beef would definitely be more then worth it. But the real price savings for locker beef is in the steaks, which can range from $15-30/lb in the store (depending on what steak you buy and the quality). So yes, you can have it all turned into ground beef, but the take home weight will be lower then if you take home a lot of steaks and roasts.
Q: So the take home weight is not the same as the hanging weight?
That’s correct. The live weight is the standing cow. The farmer raised all of that cow, but the farmer will take a loss on a lot of the weight because a lot of the internal organs are not included in the weight and neither are the hide, head, lower legs and hooves. In fact, about 50% of the weight is lost right there. Then the hanging weight is what you, the customer pays for. So an 800 lbs cow will have about a 400 lb hanging weight. Then the now carcass is aged for 10-14 days and it will lose some moisture weight. Then the butcher will cut and wrap the meat and some of the bones will be discarded (though most butchers will hold onto them for you if you would like dog bones). The take home weight will average around 67% of the hanging weight on a standard cut. We estimate at the end, the meat will be about $7-7.20/lb. Keep in mind this will include porterhouse steak, t-bone steaks, sirloin steaks, ribs, and all the roasts and also of course some ground beef. It’s a good deal for all natural and nutritious grass fed beef.
Q: How do I give cutting instructions to the butcher?
A: When you call the butcher you give them your name, the farm your animal is from (Four E Farms) and whether you bought a 1/2 or a whole. (1/4s are a standard cut)
Then you basically tell the butcher if you want steaks, roasts or ground beef from one of the 8 main parts of your carcass and if you want your steaks/roasts bone in or bone out (for example, bone-in will give you the T-bone steak and bone-out will give you the filet steak and strip steak, which make up the T-bone steak but without the bone). The 8 main parts of the beef: The Chuck, the Rib, the Loin, the Brisket, the Short Plate, the Flank, the Shank and the Round.
The best areas are the Loin and the Rib, you’ll want those steaks! The Shank is the toughest area, those make great hamburger. The Chuck and Round make great roasts. We always recommend getting bone in for steaks and roasts because it simply adds to the flavor, you get more of your weight back, and there’s less meat that gets turned into ground beef (because when a butcher has to cut out the bone, there’s a bit more meat trimmings). Here’s a great and very helpful blog post written by Katia. http://ranchsteady.blogspot.com/2011/09/buying-side-of-beef-lesson-five.html
If you need any help or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Q: Is your beef grass fed?
A: Yes, our cows are grass fed and grass finished. They are never fed any corn or any other grains. They eat pasture grasses and herbs 8 month out of the year and hay about 6 months of the year. There’s an overlap because we start supplementing hay in the fall.
Q: Is your beef organic?
A: We are not Certified Organic. We would have to charge more if we are organic because the government taxes organic farmers heavily. But for the definition of organic, our beef can be considered organic. All their feed is grown on our own farm and we use absolutely no pesticides or herbicides on our hay fields. We do use antibiotics, but only when an animal’s suffering and we very rarely need to use it. Vaccinations are okay to be certified organic, but the animals in our grass fed beef program do not receive any booster vaccines. To read more about our operation visit our About our Cows page.
Q: How much freezer space do I need?
A: The rule of thumb is one cubic foot of freezer space for every 35 – 40 pounds of packaged meat. Our cows are a bit smaller because we butcher at a year instead of the standard 2 yrs old. You should plan for at least 12 cu.ft. freezer space for a whole beef, more if you want to keep all the bones and organs.
Q: Can we buy a sample pack?
No, unfortunately we can only do locker beef, which is where you sell shares of the live animal (so a 1/4, 1/2, or a whole) and then when the butcher picks it up it’s basically out of our hands and the buyer picks his/her beef up from the butcher and pays the butcher.
In order to sell already packaged beef we would have to go to USDA processing plant, which would require us to ship the animal to the slaughter facilities and adds a lot of stress to the animal right before they’re butchered. We prefer the butcher to come to our farm and the animals are put down right here on the farm in their familiar surroundings. We believe that’s part of the reason our beef tastes so great, because they never go through a day of stress. That currently locks us into only being able to offer locker beef though.
Q: What set you apart from all other farms that sell natural grass fed beef?
A: Nutrition. Almost all organic/all natural farms prioritize no use of chemicals, which to us is just a secondary focus, it’s a no-brainer. Our main focus is raising nutrient dense meat starting with the grasses we raise. Grass fed beef tends to be more nutritious than grain fed beef, but there’s different types of grasses all with different types of nutrition. Some grasses are poor in nutrition and other are high in nutrition. There’s also different types of soils all with different levels of nutrition. My husband closely follows the teachings of William Albrecht, the father of soil science who laid an important link between soil health and human health. Albrecht was laughed at during his time, just like my husband was laughed at when he was a crop advisor when he was a young man. But now we are the ones laughing 😉 . Our hay we feed our cows during the winter is the best there is and our pastures are healthy and thriving. Our breeding cows live longer healthy lives and have nice babies that grow fast. Happy, healthy cows are important to us and provides you with a nutrient dense steak on your plate.