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A Freezer Full of Beef…
It’s great knowing that we have enough meat to feed our family for another year, or more. I like knowing that the animals were raised locally on pasture and weren’t given hormones and antibiotics. The small custom butcher shop doesn’t add any dyes, saline solution, or fillers (like pink slime) to the meat. If I can’t raise and butcher it myself, this is the next best thing.
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We ended up with around 400 pounds of beef this past week and it fits nicely in the 15 cf chest freezer purchased this fall. I have pork (also from a local farmer) and our home butchered turkeys and chickens in the 21cf freezer, plus we have a 13 cf freezer full of fruits and veggies I’ve put up this year. This doesn’t take into consideration all of the food I have canned or dehydrated. We should be pretty well set for the winter.
If you are interested in ordering locally raised meat, try looking on Craigslist, under the Farm and Garden section. Or call the local butcher shops to see if they have information about farmers selling pork or beef shares in your area. You’ll have to pay the farmer for the hanging weight of the animal (the weight after head, hooves, organs, and hide have been removed) and you’ll pay for processing at the butcher shop. What you bring home will be about 60% of the hanging weight, because you also paid for bones. You can ask for the bones for your dog, if you want.
If possible, avoid ordering from a farmer that advertises a price per pound for LIVE WEIGHT – even if the price per pound seems low, you will be paying for a lot of parts that will be thrown away.
When you consider that the meat you purchase in the store often contains fillers and salt water to increase the weight, you may be paying less overall. If you are looking for grass fed animals, there will be less meat since they are not given hormones to make them gain weight quickly, and the price per pound will normally be higher. Keep in mind that you will need a large freezer to store all that meat. Our 15 cf freezer held about 400 pounds, about the size of a small steer. Grain fed animals are larger and you may need a 20 cf freezer for a whole steer. You can also pressure can some of it or make your own jerky…but I would plan on having a freezer to accommodate all of it until you can process it further.
It is definitely takes more work, planning, and a large upfront investment to order your beef and pork from local farmers. I find it is worth the extra effort because I know the animals lived a natural life and died much more humanely than the animals taken to industrial slaughterhouses. And considering that a lot of our meat comes from foreign countries, I prefer to support small family farms. The only thing I would like better would be to raise them myself and butcher them on my own homestead.
How about you? Do you raise and slaughter your own animals? Buy from local farmers? Buy from the grocery store? Or are you vegetarian?