Due to where I live with rules, laws, zoning, etc I can't raise animals. So, I've been buying my beef from my cow man and freezing it - obviously. So, I called him up and asked him if I could prepay and buy a cow plus a maintenance fee to keep it alive and healthy until I want to fill my freezer. He's going to think about what kind of money he wants and call me later - good guy, very reputable. Aside from the fact that I don't actually have what I've paid for - although its not getting freezer burned (although it does get very cold in the Dakotas...) I like the idea. What do you think? If the power goes out, my cow is fine in the heat - which I guess brings up the point, don't buy that cow - buy a cow. Interested in others experiences with such an arrangement, if any. Thanks.
Don't look at me: I'm not exactly a vegitarian but our protien is stored in dry beans and peanut butter. Yet you got me thinking. I live in an area with lots of dairy and beef cattle. I do not have room for a cow, but someone with room could keep one for me. Sort of like boarding a horse.
I know Tycer was involved in trying to get some sort of meat locker coop going with neighbors, but the state of NC regulated their plans out of existence. I wonder how that all worked out?
I'd like to know those details - wonder how a maintenance "membership" with a cattleman or such could be discouraged via regulations, etc? Pork too but I suppose reality closes the door at chickens, etc. Makes me wonder off the top of my head if its a "time to maturity" issue.
I think this is a very clever idea. There are some things to consider. As a business owner I’m sure you are aware of them, but I’ll lay them out for others who might want to pursue this.
From a resiliency perspective, this gives you ownership of more meat than you can store or produce yourself. As long as the rancher is trustworthy this could work well.
From an economic perspective, there are issues to consider.
* If “your” steer dies you lose your money.
* Beef producers have a rigid cycle. If you are not ready to freeze “your” steer at slaughter time, the rancher probably won’t want to keep it around and mess up his production cycle. He will certainly charge additional maintenance if he does.
* Since your intention is to keep your beef on the hoof to extend your supply, you will be paying a premium in maintenance fees to do so.
* If you arrange to have “a” steer in general, not a specific one, then you can catch the slaughter cycle when you have room for it. Or leave it on the hoof. But either way you would pay additional money for the extended maintenance.
* The national drought, and soaring feed prices, mean falling prices for “unfinished” cattle as producers reduce herds they can’t afford to feed. They might be cheaper later.
* But “finished” cattle ready for slaughter will cost more to reflect the feed they consumed. So this may be a wash.
* Your best bet might be an “option” to buy a finished steer in the future. This could be a fixed date, or open ended. Payment could be a lump sum today. Or it could be a small monthly cost, that you could think of as insurance, plus the market price when the option is exercised.
* Any arrangement needs to be clearly defined in a contract.
Overall, you gain certainty of supply by assuming some market risk for price, which could save, or cost, you money. You definitely need to minimize extended maintenance costs if you want to keep your beef on the hoof. It is important to structure this deal properly. I can see why you “cow man” wants to think about it.
I like the idea if you can arrange it right.
You might also ask around about any Meat CSA programs that have started. Like a veg csa, you prepay into a meat producing operation that then provides you with your weekly / monthly delivery of various cuts. You still get to support the local producer and support systems (butcher, cold storage, etc) and have access to your protein in segments. Some producers also have different varieties of protein that get included in the box. (chicken, pork, lamb, beef).
Just another option to consider. There is always lots to consider with these types of investments.
Keep us posted.
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