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Selling meat at farmers market/CSA - storage lifetime?  RSS feed

 
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Not sure where to put this question. To those who are raising and selling cuts of frozen meat- are you butchering year around? Also, how long can you store your frozen meat? Currently we have sheep and are going to get 10 cows this spring. We have a friend who does meat chickens and has a HUGE freezer. He’s going to let us rent some space. We will probably have a couple deep freezes ourselves. Typically we would lamb one time a year and butcher one time a year. But I was thinking yesterday, that may be far to long if storing it in the freezer. So I’m guessing this sort of market calls for multiple lambing through the year so we will have lambs ready at different times? If so, how long can we store the meat before it goes bad. Thanks! Exerience, advice, opinions are always appreciated.

A little background: We will probably raise 5-10 feeder pigs this year. To build up customers we will most likely sell at the Columbia, MO farmers market to gain a customer base. Since our lamb/pigs wont be done until the fall we will sell eggs and veg while taking emails for newsletters and promote our half and whole pigs/lamb. Then we will have some cuts to sell in the fall. (We assume the first year will be a loss, but necessary to get our name out there) We then would like to follow the www.tynerpondfarm.com model. Where people can order cuts of beef, chicken(we will sell my buddy’s meat), lamb, and pork online for delivery. We will start in Columbia and then possibility move to certain spots in Kansas City. We also plan to do lamb restaurant sales, there are not many competitors for grass fed lamb being sold to restaurants in our area.
 
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Location: Denmark 57N
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You probably need to contact the relevant authorities on that, here the freezer needs to be inspected with daily temperature logs taken (or made up later whistles*) There's legal limits on how long you can keep things frozen, but from a quality point of view it's going to depend on the packaging, vacuum packed in thick plastic lasts indefinitely. Of course multiple slaughter times reduces the space you need in the freezers, and stops them having to be run half empty.
 
pollinator
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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My two cents.

Don't try to have everything all the time.  Produce things seasonally as appropriate, and market that seasonality. 

In my experience, lots of folks who scale up to have something year-round burn out and throw in the towel in pretty short order, or else rely on employees to take the burden off; those who stay at a more modest level seem to have greater staying power. At the scale you seem to be talking about, I think you'd have a difficult time stretching sales across an entire calendar year anyway.

How long things last in the freezer depends mostly on packaging.  If the seals don't break, the meat can easily keep a year or more.  But even with good packaging you'll have to expect a certain amount of seal breakage.  It seems this varies from processor to processor, so do your homework.

We produce a variety of things, trying as best we can to keep them all in their appropriate seasons.  It works for us.  We have consistent customers, both individuals and restaurants, who appreciate what we do and don't expect us to have everything all the time.
 
Wes Hunter
pollinator
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Another consideration with sheep is to lamb seasonally, but process in batches.  Take some to slaughter at 6 months, and some at 12 months.  They're both still "lamb."  You might even find the latter more profitable, as you'll have larger butcher weights but will pay a flat rate for processing.

We do this, to a degree, with chickens.  We raise slow-growing heritage breeds, slaughtering some at 8-9 weeks as "poussin," some at 12 weeks as "broilers," some (most) at 16-18 weeks as "fryers," and some at 20+ weeks as "roasters."  One batch, many slaughter days.
 
Taylor Cleveland
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Skandi Rogers wrote:You probably need to contact the relevant authorities on that, here the freezer needs to be inspected with daily temperature logs taken (or made up later whistles*) There's legal limits on how long you can keep things frozen, but from a quality point of view it's going to depend on the packaging, vacuum packed in thick plastic lasts indefinitely. Of course multiple slaughter times reduces the space you need in the freezers, and stops them having to be run half empty.



Of course there are regulations 😝 I don’t know how I didn’t think of that, considering I own a meal-prep business. I’ll contact my health dpt guy and see if he knows. Thanks!
 
Taylor Cleveland
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Wes Hunter wrote:Another consideration with sheep is to lamb seasonally, but process in batches.  Take some to slaughter at 6 months, and some at 12 months.  They're both still "lamb."  You might even find the latter more profitable, as you'll have larger butcher weights but will pay a flat rate for processing.

We do this, to a degree, with chickens.  We raise slow-growing heritage breeds, slaughtering some at 8-9 weeks as "poussin," some at 12 weeks as "broilers," some (most) at 16-18 weeks as "fryers," and some at 20+ weeks as "roasters."  One batch, many slaughter days.



Good input. Thanks so much. I’m sure for awhile we will be running like that wether we want to or not. I am def. going to weigh my ram lambs at the stages you suggested and see what the profit would be at those times, good advice. I’m thinking I will try to stagger our livestock so they are finishing at different times as well. I’ll have to run numbers and see which species would be more economical to raise during off seasons. Maybe in feeder pigs through the winter since they are the least relient on pasture? That way even if we can have ALMOST everything ALMOST all year around we would have more freezer space and cheaperfreezer rental if different animals are being processed at different times. Thanks!
 
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Location: The Netherlands
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Staggering is good, the ability to conserve meat by freezing it has pretty much freed us from seasonal slaughter.

What also has gained traction again over here is buying a quarter/eight/whatever of a cow/pig. Once enough people have signed up for a whole animal you then can slaughter and process it and send everybody their quarter/eight/whatever of their cuts. This saves a lot of freezer space and time and you don't get stuck with the less desirable cuts after the rest has sold.
 
pollinator
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We purchase 1/2 of a grass-fed cow at a time.  The cows are pastured and well cared for.   When we run out of meat we have to wait until the entire cow is sold and processed for the next order.  We just started doing chicken so we no longer purchase meat at the grocery store.

As a side note, if you have a quality product you will get repeat customers.   The grass-fed beef is more like eating healthy game meat.  When we ran out of hamburger my wife purchased the regular hamburger at the grocery store, even the smell was disgusting. It smelled like a feedlot. 

We went veg until we got our next order.  If you've been eating sick meat your entire life you don't sense how bad it is.  Once you eat the good stuff you would rather eat nothing than the sick beef.

We found our rancher on our State CSA site.  He does chickens and organic farming too.

Good luck.

Regards, Scott

 
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