Buying a Side of Beef: Part 2-The Cost

  1. Fairfarmhand
    Many people have considered packing a freezer with a side of beef from a local farmer. If you\'ve never done this before, you probably have some questions. When we sell to a \"first timer\" they usually have quite a few questions. The first question that they usually ask is \"How much will it cost?\"

    Price Per Pound

    This can vary widely depending on how much beef is selling for at the time. Often, the farmer will give you a price per pound. Usually, a farmer will look at the price that cattle are selling for at the local cattle sales to help determine a fair price. However, if you are buying a grass-fed or organically raised animal, you can expect to pay more than auction barn prices. These specially raised steers are much more expensive to raise, so you will pay a premium for this type of beef.

    Make sure that you ask which weight the farmer is referring to when he prices it to you. Usually he will price it by hanging weight. So he might say, \"$3.00 per pound of hanging weight.\" Remember though, that the hanging weight is not exactly the full amount of meat you will get. The butcher will end up trimming away some of the fat and plenty of bone.

    However, some farmers may actually figure things differently, perhaps using live weight or finished weight, so ask questions to make sure that you understand your financial obligation.

    Butcher Fees

    Are you going to be responsible for the butchering fees? Be sure that you ask to find out. Most of the time, you will be responsible for all of the fees that the processor charges. Sometimes they add extra fees if, say, you want your ground beef formed into hamburger patties or you want very small packages of meat. Other fees that the butcher will charge will probably be a kill fee, a disposal fee, and a storage fee if you don\'t pick up your meat in a timely manner. Your butcher may charge you by the pound, or he may charge a flat fee. Ask questions before you pay to understand how it works.


    Will the farmer haul the animal to the butcher for you or will you be responsible for the hauling? If the farmer is hauling the animal, ask if you need to fill out paperwork at the butcher. Many meat cutters will happily cut the steaks and roasts to whatever size suits your family best, but you will need to make sure that you\'ve done your homework so they know what you want. If you don\'t, you may end up cooking five pound roasts for a family of three!

    You also should ask if you need to pick up the meat. Some farmers may not mind picking up the meat for you, but ask to be sure. The length of time that the animal is hauled to the processor until it will actually be ready to pick up is usually at least two or three weeks. This give you time to beg and borrow enough coolers to get the meat home without thawing it.

    During the process, you may feel that you are asking stupid questions. However, if you\'ve never done this before, it\'s better to ask the question than to be obligated to pay more than you had budgeted.

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