Nate's Custom Butchering beginning the butchering process by removing the hide of a steer.

Buying Beef Direct

My husband and I are just getting started on finishing some beef out to sell directly to local consumers. How buying beef direct works is the buyer purchases the calf from us (the rancher), the butcher calls to get the butchering instructions, the buyer pays the butcher to cut and wrap it up for them, and then they pick it up from the butcher and stock their freezer. We have many people reach out to us wanting a 1/2 of beef or 1/4.

Normally, the routine on our ranch is, after gathering our cattle off of our mountain permit, we wean the calves, feed them some long hay, and then our cattle buyer sells them to someone who will background them and then they make their way to the feedlot. The way our cash flow works it is certainly simplest to do things this way, that and the fact that the ground that we own is all irrigated. It is best to feed cattle on good, hard, dry ground.

Regardless of our current “want” list, I am really passionate about working towards feeding more cattle out to provide our local friends and families with nutritious and delicious beef for their freezer. As we live in times where our supply chain is uncertain, it is an extremely comforting feeling when you open your freezer door or lid and see a couple hundred pounds of beef in a variety of cuts sitting there. It is an added bonus that you shook the hand of the person who raised the calf. If this idea seems novel to you and you don’t live in the same region as I do, check out Jessie Jarvis’ amazing resource where she has listed where you can buy beef direct in all 50 States.

Nate's Custom Butchering beginning the butchering process by removing the hide of a steer

Great Questions to Ask the Rancher

As a customer, there are some important questions you should consider asking the rancher before agreeing to purchase some beef direct from them or putting a deposit down on some beef. These questions are all in an effort to make sure you are getting the quality product that you deserve and to decrease the chance of any surprises on your end. I truly do love surprises, but not when it has anything to do with what is on my dinner plate.

  1. Are you selling your beef grass fed or grain finished? (What is the difference?)
  2. How much are you charging per pound?
  3. Is that price per/lb. live weight or hanging weight? (What is the difference?)
  4. How old is the animal that I am purchasing? (Why is this important?)
  5. How much are you hoping for it to weigh by the butcher date?
  6. Who do you plan to have butcher the animal?
  7. When will this animal be butchered?

Freezer Space

It is kind of like the saying, “Call before you dig.” Check your freezer before buying beef direct. Currently, freezers are hard to come by, low inventory, or even back ordered. Before you pull the trigger on buying beef direct, check the capacity of your freezer and the working condition. If it doesn’t have a good seal or has been glitching every now and then, you may want to consider replacing it before picking up your beef or setting a reminder on your phone to check the condition of the freezer daily. I would discourage you from choosing the later because it is a real challenge to find a freezer locally if you are in a pinch.

Committing to Buying Beef Direct

When you begin buying beef direct it feels like an extremely large commitment, it is. Spending hundreds of dollars and receiving such a large amount of beef at once isn’t any quick decision to make. Once you get into the routine of buying beef direct though, it is a luxury to rarely frequent the meat counter and know that you have a variety of cuts on hand at all times. Once you have committed to the rancher or farmer the only thing you need to think about is, how you would like your beef cut up? Don’t worry, I am here to help, check out my guide to beef butchering instructions where we walk through all of your options, together.

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