Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Beef Analysis

Well, we picked up Earl today in seven cardboard boxes. We even got the processor to save us the horns and plan on making a display with those. The breed we raise is the Scottish Highland. They are a slow to mature breed, and we add no hormones or grain to our cattle's diet, which makes them even slower to mature. Earl was at the two year mark when he was sent in. Most feed lot cattle are around 12 - 14 months. Our cattle only eat pasture grass and hay that we get from our farmland. The only artificial thing we use on them is a de-wormer.

Hanging weight - 528 pounds, which made this about a 950 pound steer on the hoof. Hanging weight is the side of beef that, well, hangs in the cooler for a few days with all of the usable cuts intact. Typically you get about 63% of the hanging weight as edible beef, which yields us approximately 333 pounds. There were a large variety of cuts. Everything from arm steaks to ribeyes to t-bones to sirloin strips. The tenderloins were looking great. There is a lot of ground beef, of course. We requested the organ meats. This was at the discretion of the butcher, who will not let them go if they look odd or funny to him. We received the heart, liver, tongue and sweetbreads. I am really looking forward to preparing the tongue and sweetbreads - two of my favorites.

Not being grainfed and being a different breed of cattle than the standard feedlot steer, we are not expecting well marbled steaks like you would find at Ruth Chrith. We are expecting beef that most likely tastes like it tasted to folks 100 years ago. Which is to say wild. Wild isn't the right word - just more "beefy". We will see. First burgers tonight, first steaks tomorrow.


Acqisition cost of the animal - $500
Feed cost - $0
Vet cost - $0
De-wormer - $10
Transport to processor - $100
Processing - $312.06

I can't really think of any other costs we have associated with the animal. This puts our all around cost of the beef at $2.77 per pound. Of course you can get ground beef much cheaper than this, but good luck finding a decent ribeye under $10 per pound (I have been seeing $15/pound around here).

In the future our acquisition cost will be lowered by approximately $450 as we have two females in our herd. One has yielded a calf already with one other on the way. Our other female gets knocked up for the first time next year. Typically you pay the vet $25 for the process, and $25 for the straw. For those of you who don't know, a straw is a vial of semen from a bull that you choose. Alternately we have been offered to send our females to a bull to do it au naturel for $50 including transportation. We went the vet way this year and it took (we are expecting a calf any day now) so time will tell if we send our females away this fall or have the vet knock them up.

Beef prices are at record levels right now, so our next steer (set to leave in a few months) may be sold outright - we will see. My wife reports seeing grass fed organic ground beef being sold for $5 per pound. Our farm is so small that we wouldn't have to get certified to be called organic, so along those lines a local butcher has expressed interest in our steers to sell at his shop. He can label and sell the product as grass fed organic and command a higher price, and also tell his customers that they can drive by our farm and see the cattle peacefully grazing on pasture.

Of course this is all pie in the sky before it really happens, but time will tell. This second steer will most certainly have to be sold one way or another as I honestly don't have any idea what we would do with another steer, unless we eat beef every day this summer (could happen).

Cross posted at Chicago Boyz.


Gerry from Valpo said...

Grass fed, free range, organic, green. Who the fuck cares?

Congrats. Go for it.

Dan from Madison said...

I agree with you on the who the fuck cares part. Frankly it was easier and cheaper to do it this way, plus the wife is big on that crap.

Dan from Madison said...

Interesting thread on opportunity costs and hidden costs at Chicago Boyz.