How To Make Money With Cows – This step-by-step guide walks you through everything you need to know and questions to ask when buying a cow directly from a farmer. Once you know how to buy a cow, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
Thinking of buying a cow from a local farmer? This is a great idea because you will get quality beef for a fraction of the price.
How To Make Money With Cows
But we know there are a lot of other questions you need to ask, too. We have been selling beef from our farm for over a decade and have answered hundreds of questions from customers.
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In this step-by-step guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a cow from a farmer. Here are some of the things we’ll cover:
Believe it or not, buying a cow is like any other purchase. You can make a decision by getting feedback from friends, family, local experts, and the internet.
First, talk to family and friends and see if any of them have bought a cow from a local farmer. If yes, did they have a good experience?
Second, visit your local farmers market. You’ll likely find many beef growers out there, and you can talk to them and try some steaks and ground beef before buying from them in bulk.
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Another great resource is to contact your local extension office or USDA office. You can ask for a recommendation from a local farmer who sells beef directly. If you haven’t heard of these offices before, search online for the one closest to you. You’ll quickly notice that these offices often partner with local universities and offer lots of free information on a variety of topics – such as buying a cow, growing a garden, running a small business, and more.
And of course, there are always searches on the Internet. Some sites bring together local farmers, such as EatWild or Local Harvest. These sites can be great, but keep in mind that farmers have to pay to be a part of these sites. Therefore, the lists are not exhaustive.
Yes! Depending on where you usually shop for beef and the type of beef you buy, you can save more than $2,000 a year on beef.
We conduct price comparisons every year, comparing our beef prices to local St. Louis grocery stores. With Clover MeadowsBeef, the price is about $5.45/lb for all cuts of grass-fed beef. That’s compared to $7.03/lb at Walmart, $7.84/lb at your local St. Louis grocery store, and $9.86/lb at Whole Foods.
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Depending on who you order your cows from, you will get the option to customize your cut list. More on that later.
At Clover Meadows Beef, if you order a sixteenth, quart or half beef, we use a standard cut menu since you’re splitting the cow into other people and the whole cow needs to be processed in the same way. If you order a whole cow, you can cut it to order as you like.
Can my family eat a whole cow? How much beef does a typical family eat in a year?
It varies by family. On average, our customers with a family of four eat about half a cow each year. Here is an easy equation that will help you figure it out:
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All meat intended for general consumption in the United States must be inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In some states, such as Missouri, you can also have an inspector from a state inspection agency inspect meat, but the state cannot inspect it across state lines for sale.
USDA inspectors check live animals to ensure they are healthy from head to hoof and treat them humanely. They also check the slaughter process, the animal’s organs, and the temperature of the meat, making sure the carcass remains as clean as possible during the entire process.
If the beef does not pass the inspection, it will be removed entirely from the food supply. When beef passes inspection, it is sealed or marked with the USDA Inspection Seal, meaning it is fit to eat.
Getting beef certified as organic or grass-fed requires the farmer to go through additional government inspections, submit tons of paperwork and pay extra fees. It is a very expensive and lengthy process.
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Many farmers, like us, choose not to go through the process of getting our beef certified as grass-fed or organic. However, beef often meets these qualifications.
When you talk to the farmer you are considering buying beef from, ask them how their livestock are raised and if there are any standards they follow in raising their livestock. The way they raise their livestock is more important than the government label. Another way to ask this question is, “What would the label say if you bought beef at a grocery store.”
The answer to this question varies by farm and beef handler. On our farm, we offer a standard menu for sixteen, quarter and half orders, as it makes things much easier for our customers.
If you work independently with a butcher and beef processor, there are a few things to keep in mind when selecting cuts.
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First, and most importantly, you have to remember the anatomy of the cow, and that there are a limited number of beef on a cow. Please stay tuned with us through this section, because you need to know this to understand how to cut your own beef.
The USDA divides cows into eight zones. These are known as primary or major reductions. Here are the initial eight cuts:
Many different cuts can come from each of these sections. But if you are buying a quarter or half of a cow, you will have to choose how to cut that section.
For example, in the grocery store, you’ll see pie sold as ground beef, pie steak, pie steak, steak, roast steak, top pie roast, and pie bottom roast. But all these round bits come from many animals. When you’re talking to the butcher, you’ll need to choose several ways to get a story round. You can’t do everything you see in the grocery store because there is a limited amount of beef on each animal.
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A comment we sometimes hear is that people want more unique cuts, such as T-Bone, Porterhouse Steak, Delmonico Steak, Club Steak, etc.
First, some cuts have different names based on the region. For example, KC Strip and NY Strip are basically the same thing.
Second, other cuts are a mixture of cuts. For example, a T-bone steak is steak on one side and tenderloin on the other side. If you decide to cut the bone, you will no longer have a T-bone. Instead, you will have two distinct cuts – the tenderloin (or fillet) and the steak. And if the T bone is too large, it will be called a Porterhouse steak, not a T bone. According to the USDA, if the section of tenderloin is at least 1.25 inches wide at the widest section, it is a Porterhouse steak.
Our prices at Clover Meadows Beef are inclusive. We tell you what you’ll get for a specific price, and that’s what we offer. We avoid terms like weight hanging because we think they are too confusing for those familiar with livestock.
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However, if you are not in the St. Louis area and cannot buy from our farm, you will likely be told the amount based on the weight of the animal or from one of the processing stages. Here are the terms you need to know in order to be able to calculate the actual cost:
An important thing to keep in mind if you’re trying to figure out how much beef you’ll actually get is losing some weight during each step of the process.
So, if you’re trying to do the math with a farmer talking in hanging weight – if they say it’s $3.75 per pound of hanging weight, expect to pay $6.25 per pound ($3.75/$0.60) plus the slaughter fee, which is usually around $600.00 For the whole cow (this fee will split if you share it with another family).
If talking about hanging weights makes your head spin, ask us if you’re in St. Louis or find another farm that offers beef all inclusive. It is much easier on everyone and you will know exactly what you are getting.
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Most growers will give you a choice between paper packaging, shrink packaging, or vacuum packaging. We recommend vacuum sealing as it will keep the beef fresh longer.
Yes, you will likely need a freestanding refrigerator. The rule of thumb is 1 cubic foot of freezer space for every 30-35 pounds of shredded meat and cabbage.
To help you visualize it, this is what our fridge looks like with half a cow, about 220 pounds of beef.
If you don’t have a freestanding refrigerator yet, you can usually get a good deal at a store like Sam’s or Costco. We have upright freezers and boxes in our house and we love them together.
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Whatever you do, make sure you have a lock and key. This is very important for child safety reasons (children climbed into freezers and choked) and
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