How To Get Grass Fed Beef Without Paying Whole Wallet Prices

by Mike on May 22, 2012

This is Spot, a male cow weighing about 1,200 lbs.  Unlike other large farms where cows are raised, Spot’s is raised only amongst a few other cows and fed a steady diet of grass grown straight from the same farm where he is raised.  In short, he’s individually cared for and his diet is closely monitored.

Grass fed

A male cow named, Spot

Why did I meet Spot? I met Spot back in February when I went to put a deposit on him.

Fast forward to mid-April, this is what Spot looks like now and I’m $2,079 USD lighter because of that.

grass fed beef

Spot now

If you’re getting my drift, I put a deposit on Spot to buy him and have him slaughtered for the beef.  Actually, a group of friends and I split the cost of the cow and the cuts yielded from the carcass, otherwise it would have been unmanageable for me to consume all that beef.  This is by far the most economical way to get beef let alone grass fed beef.

An article over at Mark’s Daily Apple discusses the importance of how the cow is raised and what the cow eats directly correlates to the taste of the animal(I’ll share my thoughts on this later).   He makes some points on the nutritional value of grass fed beef based on research.

Furthermore, the author state’s that grass fed beef

..shines in the micronutrient profile for one reason. Grass-fed cows get more nutritious food. Remember: they aren’t munching on monoculture lawn cuttings…They’re eating a wide variety of (often wild) grasses, sedges, rushes, shrubs, and herbs, each with its own nutrient profile.

With this all said, he makes it a point to buy the highest quality beef you can afford whether it means going to a farm up the road or to Whole Wallet to buy a slab of beef.  For the average person, buying conventional meat is just easier and more economical.

grass fed beef

Grass that Spot eats

Ever go to Whole Wallet and price out a pound of their tenderloin?  It makes someone think twice because for the cost of grass fed beef, one could buy twice as much as the conventional beef.  I’ve never really gave grass fed beef much thought, I knew it existed, but never wanted to spend the premium just because the cow was raised on grass until I was presented with this opportunity – buy a whole cow.

By buying a whole cow, we paid a single flat rate(price per pound) for all the cuts.  A pound of tenderloins and the ground beef has the same cost.  The catch was that the cow comprises less of the premium cuts.

HOW DOES THE BEEF LOOK? 

The farmer who raised spot made a point that she raises her cows to have a lot of marbleized fat.  There were a lot of things I learned about beef and this was one of them.  Marbleized fat is the intramuscular fat.  I’ve never really paid much attention to this in the stores.  I pretty much looked at the color of the meat if it was red, it was lean and good to ear.   I may have been a bit naïve about this, but at least now I know the advantageous of the intramuscular fat, which add flavor and tenderness to the beef.

HOW DOES THE COW TASTE?

When I first brought home Spot, I threw a piece of the T-bone Steak – one of the premium cuts.  With traditional store bought steak, I normally use steak sauce and a bit of seasoning.  With Spot, however, I decided not to mask any of the flavor to see what it tastes like – only a bit a sea salt and crushed peppers was added.

The end result was very impressive!

At the first bite, I was initially blown away by the tenderness of meat and the flavor.  I couldn’t believe that a steak with very little seasoning could taste so good.  However, this was straight from the butcher to the grill.  There was no freezer or little refrigeration from when the cow was butchered to the time when the beef hit the grill.

HOW MUCH DOES STEAK DOES A COW YIELD?

At the time Spot was brought to the butcher to be slaughtered, he weighed in at 1,400 lbs.  I was charged the $3.55 per pound of the hanging weight, which is the weight of the carcass without the organs, the skin, and so on.  The aforementioned picture is the hanging weight of the cow(the picture only shows a quarter of the cow, the other quarter is behind it).

From the hanging weight, 585 pounds, about 65% is consumable beef, the rest is just fat and bones.

The butcher did an excellent job in dividing up the rations so that my friends and I received a fair share of the premium cuts, i.e. the porterhouse, T-bone, rib eyes and so on.

Spot of course, yielded a fair amount of other cuts of meat anything else was later turned into ground beef(about 85/15).

HOW CAN YOU FIND YOUR OWN COW?

A colleague of mine recommended me to a farm.  Similarly, a good option is to point your browsers to Local Harvest.  The farm that I bought Spot from is listed on this site.  Once a farm is sought, they should be able to recommend a butcher.  The slaughter and cut/wrap fee is separate from the price of the cow itself.  In addition to the cost of the cost, $2,079, there was several hundred for the slaughter and cut fee.

THE PROCESS

Once our deposit was placed, spot was moved into a holding pen for about 5 weeks to tenderize him by limiting his area to roam about.   After which, he was transported to the butcher to be slaughtered.  At this point, we had the option to pick up his organs, i.e. heart, liver, tail, the tongue.  I had no desire for the organs, but some of my friends called dibbs on them.  After the cow is slaughtered, the carcass has to hang for about 5 to 7 days before it can be cut and wrapped.

Grass fed beef

Spot in the holding pen

Overall, the grass fed beef was better than I expected.  So would I pay the whole wallet prices for grass fed beef? Probably not, but I would definitely recommend buying a grass fed cow as an alternative to whole wallet.  The cost per pound was only marginally more than conventional beef.  The downside is you’re going to need some freezer space to store your haul of beef.

Related posts:

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin Le May 25, 2012 at 1:00 am

great post man. how much did your portions end up costing?

Reply

Mike May 25, 2012 at 1:17 am

Kevin, Each member of the group received about 40-45 lbs of beef and paid about $7.50 per pound.

Reply

Bill January 28, 2014 at 9:44 pm

We just put a $600 deposit down for half a side of beef. With everything included (cutting, wrapping, etc.), it’s coming out to about $7.35 a lb. It’s been nearly a year now since your purchase. What’s the verdict? Still have leftover beef? Was it worth it in the long run? In other words, would you do this again?

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: