Bulk Processing FAQ

We get lots of questions regarding bulk meat purchases because most people have never purchased a half pig or a quarter cow before. Here are some of the questions we commonly get.  Keep in mind that each farm is different, so the answers below are true at Shady Grove Ranch, but might not be true at other farms.

Exciting New Changes!

We have recently revamped our bulk purchasing options to simplify purchasing large quantities of beef and pork. Traditionally, purchasing in bulk involves actually purchasing the live animal based on its “hanging weight,” causing the actual price and take-home amount of meat to be extremely variable. To eliminate confusion, we decided to offer fixed-price and fixed-poundage packages. Jump over to our Bulk Meat Purchasing page to see prices.

How does bulk purchase work?

Purchasing in bulk is great if you want a ready supply of naturally-raised meat in a variety of cuts. If your family mostly consumes ground meat and roasts for budget reasons, you may consider purchasing our other “Bulk Deals”. But if you are the occasional steak eater and like all the other stuff, too, bulk animal purchase is the way to go.

We now offer fixed-price packages to eliminate confusion for purchasing in bulk. This means you pay a set price (for example, $745 for a small quarter cow) and receive a guaranteed amount of meat (in our example, a small quarter cow is 100 pounds of meat). It’s straightforward, easy, and has quick turnaround–we can typically fill orders within a week or two of when they are placed. You may view our Bulk Meat Purchasing page to see estimated cuts breakdown. We try to get within 10% of the estimated weight of each type of cut.

If I buy a quarter cow, is it the front quarter or the rear quarter?

Well, it’s actually both. Quarters are actually split halves, so you get a little bit of everything when you purchase a quarter cow.

What comes in a quarter cow?

The answer to this question any those like it (half cow, half pig, etc) can be answered by viewing our downloadable flyer on Bulk Meat purchasing, available here.

 

Do you sell whole cows?

Yes! We don’t have many orders for whole cows, but our rate is even lower. Not many folks are prepared to take home 500 pounds of meat! But if you can get friends and co-workers to go in with you, this is a fun and economical option. Please contact us if you are one of the rare few!

When do I have to buy bulk beef and pork?

At Shady Grove Ranch, we try to plan our animal production year so that we harvest plenty of beef and pork during the growing season. Fortunately, in Texas, our growing season is nice and long, and we have a large walk-in freezer to keep inventory on hand during the hottest and coldest months.

How is the meat packaged?

With our current processor, the meat is wrapped in plastic and heavy paper and labeled according to cut. Ground beef is usually in 1 pound packs. Roasts are typically around 2-4 pounds each. Steaks are in packs of 2, generally about 1.5 pounds total per pack. Brisket ranges from 3-9 pounds. Ribs are 2-4 pounds. See our retail cuts page for individual cut size estimates.

How long will my meat last in the freezer?

According to FoodSafety.gov, beef steaks and roasts will keep 6-12 months in the freezer and pork chops will keep 4-6 months. For ground products, the site recommends only 1-4 months of freezer storage  time, but this is only for quality considerations. Food is safe indefinitely when kept frozen.

Our personal experience with storing meat is that its quality deteriorates very little over time. Freezer-burn may affects steaks after many months of storage, but the quality of ground and roast products is not significantly compromised by extended freezer storage as long as the packaging remains intact. You’ll find you have trouble resisting eating the meat long enough for it to go bad, anyway!

Is everything frozen when I pick up?

Yes. The butcher chills the meat in a large freezer, and we pick it up once it is sufficiently chilled then bring it home and put it into our freezer. We cannot keep it fresh due to the seasonality of small-scale, natural production.

Am I able to choose how I would like the meat cut?

Not exactly. After years of trying various ways to sell grass-fed beef and pastured pork directly to our customers, we have decided the simplest way to make sure a customer is happy is to make sure they get quality cuts. We accomplish this by working closely with our processor to cut our meat the way we feel it performs best in your kitchen. For this reason, we now offer fixed-price packages for bulk beef and pork.

There is an element of customization in that you can exchange some of your cuts for others in these packages. See our Bulk Meat Purchasing page to download the cuts breakdown flyers for Grass-fed Beef and Pastured Pork. At the bottom of each flyer, you will find information about interchanging cuts and keeping additional organs.

Is there an option for the size of cuts such as the roasts?

Yes. We do have our butcher cut various sizes on roasts, so if you prefer larger or smaller roasts, we will do our best to suit your requests.

What exactly is in the ground beef? What is the fat content?

Our processor does not mix in extra fat unless we explicitly ask him to, which means that all of our ground beef has the fat content inherent in that animal. A fatter animal will have a higher fat content, and a leaner animal will have lower fat content. Our average hamburger probably ranges from about 80/20 to 75/25.

There is NEVER any pink slime or fat from a different operation in our hamburger or sausage. Our butcher cuts one animal at a time–that pound of hamburger came from only one cow, and he was all ours.

Also, the hamburger is not labeled according to where it is cut from the cow (e.g. “ground round” or “ground chuck.”). It is just “hamburger,” but it tends to be very uniform in fat and lean content and makes great everything, from spaghetti to meatloaf to burgers. We’ve never opened a package that we didn’t love!

I would be interested in whatever “extras” are available to us. When purchasing half an animal what would this include?  

Our processor can keep liver, tongue, heart, soup bones, and oxtail for beef. For pork, he can keep liver, fat, neck bones, and heads (split). For the single organs (tongue, heart), these may be split between halves. There are usually plenty of liver, soup bones, and fat to go around for all quarters and halves.

How is your bacon prepared? Is it slab or sliced? Is it all frozen in one pack?

The bacon is not seasoned or cured in any way—it is technically just pork belly. You can get it sliced in small packages (about 1 pound) or keep it in slabs ranging from 2 lbs to whole (about 10 pounds). Slabs are useful if you plan to cure and smoke the bacon yourself. Sliced pork belly can be “cured” according to our instructions here, but we prefer simply to fry it and salt it.

How much space do I need to store this stuff?

Well, it always depends. How you cut things, how big your animal is, how well you are able to stuff your freezer full. But a conservative estimate of necessary freezer space is about 25-35 pounds per cubic foot.

Half cow (200-250 pounds take-home): 8-10 cubic feet

Quarter cow (100-140 pounds take-home): 4-5.6 cubic feet

Half pig (80-110 pounds take-home): 3-4.5 cubic feet

Whole pig (150-215 pounds take-home): 6-8.6 cubic feet

Would both the pork and beef be available for pickup at the same time?

Yes. We typically only have a short wait for beef and pork availability, so we are happy to coordinate your orders for both.

How far in advance would I know when I would need to pick up everything?

When you order, we will ask how soon you would like to pick up. We are typically able to fill orders within a week or two of when they are placed.

How do you accept payment? In advance or at time of pickup?

We require payment upon pickup and accept either check or cash.

I’m considering splitting a quarter with friends. Is this possible?

Yes! Check out our Bulk Meat Purchasing page to download the estimated cuts list so you will know how much each party will receive. Keep in mind that packaging is not exact weight, so some compromise will be necessary when splitting. Some cuts are very small, and you may only get one package. If you plan to split, tell us when you order, and we will try to accommodate you.

Do you deliver?

At this time, we only deliver to Shreveport during the Farmers Market and during our monthly off-season drop-offs. If you have a group that is interested in placing a large order, please let us know and we will try to work something out with you. But please keep in mind that we have a farm to run, so we can’t go very far or very often!