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Sellin beef outright...

BbarKRanch

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New to the forum, and soon to take over the family ranch. Does anybody out there raise beef to sell outright? As opposed to raisin calves to ship in the fall that is. Lookin for the ups' and downs' of it.
 

Whitewing

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I will be soon doing just that. But I'm a world away from everyone else here on this forum.
 

Whitewing

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hayguy said:
when do you go back WW?

As soon as the rains start falling down there, I'll head back. Sometime in May most certainly.

We're starting to calf right now so I wish was there already. Eight born so far, about 30 or so to go.
 

leanin' H

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We sell between 25 and 35 steers every year as finished beef. My goal is 50 each year. The key will be finding a feeding program to insure your beef is perfectly marbled and folks will call you. Realize that you'll need to find ways to market your beef as you start out. But once you can demonstrate to folks that you have tasty, clean and safe beef, you'll be rolling along. Some folks prefer grass fattened and others like grain fed. Do what works best for you and be serious about quality. As far as the up's and downs.......You'll need the pasture/corral space to feed your calves after weaning. You'll need to decide on a feeding program that WORKS! Meaning, just because you can put feed in front of a steer doesn't mean he'll be finished right at processing. Our beef is finished at about 17 months. Other folks push theirs harder and sell them at 14. Depends on how they are fed. Another thing to keep in mind is processing.....how close is your butcher, who does the best work, will you pay for it or will your customers? If somebody spends money for a half of a beef and it's all freezer burned in 4 months, they won't call you back even if it was the processors fault. If you can't be garuanteed that your customers get your beef, keep looking ofr a processor. You'll drop off a choice steer and a customer gets a 8 year old range cow equals lost customer. But if you can clear the early hurdles, it is a profitable way to market beef. I have some folks who buy beef every year and have for a decade. :D
 

BbarKRanch

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Thank you leanin H for all the information! Looks like I have plenty of homework ahead of me! We arent a large operaiton, only 35 pairs, so i'm setting a goal of half for our first year of sale. Sounds like this is a revolving 18 month program. My questions lie in whether or not I can turn profit with the ammount and cost of feed used being under the ammount I get per steer. If you have any more information or helpful ideas i'm all ears! Thanks again!
 

leanin' H

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Plan for half your bunch but have a back-up plan incase you don't get them all sold. Put a pencil and paper on what your input costs will be to feed them to finish weight. Then look at what you'll need per beef in order to make it pay. Start out with a narrow margin and know that you'll make a deal now that will get you return customers (and in-laws, friends, co-workers, ect) in the years to come. As you prove to folks that your beef is great to eat, they'll understand cost increases that have to happen. I was feeding corn at $7 per hundred a couple years ago and now it's $16 per hundred. But folks would rather pay a little more for safe, local, clean beef in bulk than guess about what they pay more from in the supermarket. Not that all supermarket meat is a problem. It's just that I can control my product from pasture to plate and big retailers cannot. Your most important job will be providing the best quality meat to customers. The next thing will be to market your product in as many ways as you can to find folks that want/need your beef. Folks with money are always good. If you market to the right folks, money is the last thing they want to know about. They want to know about quality, cleanliness, safety, how you operate, the local connection, tradition, ect. If you will be willing to answer questions, show you care about them and your product,you will sell beef! Good luck! Feel free to PM me if I can help ya out. :D
 

Big Muddy rancher

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leanin' H said:
We sell between 25 and 35 steers every year as finished beef. My goal is 50 each year. The key will be finding a feeding program to insure your beef is perfectly marbled and folks will call you. Realize that you'll need to find ways to market your beef as you start out. But once you can demonstrate to folks that you have tasty, clean and safe beef, you'll be rolling along. Some folks prefer grass fattened and others like grain fed. Do what works best for you and be serious about quality. As far as the up's and downs.......You'll need the pasture/corral space to feed your calves after weaning. You'll need to decide on a feeding program that WORKS! Meaning, just because you can put feed in front of a steer doesn't mean he'll be finished right at processing. Our beef is finished at about 17 months. Other folks push theirs harder and sell them at 14. Depends on how they are fed. Another thing to keep in mind is processing.....how close is your butcher, who does the best work, will you pay for it or will your customers? If somebody spends money for a half of a beef and it's all freezer burned in 4 months, they won't call you back even if it was the processors fault. If you can't be garuanteed that your customers get your beef, keep looking ofr a processor. You'll drop off a choice steer and a customer gets a 8 year old range cow equals lost customer. But if you can clear the early hurdles, it is a profitable way to market beef. I have some folks who buy beef every year and have for a decade. :D

Gee,sell between 25 and 35 steers a year. :shock:

Don't the neighbors miss them? :shock: :wink: :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

leanin' H

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Big Muddy rancher said:
leanin' H said:
We sell between 25 and 35 steers every year as finished beef. My goal is 50 each year. The key will be finding a feeding program to insure your beef is perfectly marbled and folks will call you. Realize that you'll need to find ways to market your beef as you start out. But once you can demonstrate to folks that you have tasty, clean and safe beef, you'll be rolling along. Some folks prefer grass fattened and others like grain fed. Do what works best for you and be serious about quality. As far as the up's and downs.......You'll need the pasture/corral space to feed your calves after weaning. You'll need to decide on a feeding program that WORKS! Meaning, just because you can put feed in front of a steer doesn't mean he'll be finished right at processing. Our beef is finished at about 17 months. Other folks push theirs harder and sell them at 14. Depends on how they are fed. Another thing to keep in mind is processing.....how close is your butcher, who does the best work, will you pay for it or will your customers? If somebody spends money for a half of a beef and it's all freezer burned in 4 months, they won't call you back even if it was the processors fault. If you can't be garuanteed that your customers get your beef, keep looking ofr a processor. You'll drop off a choice steer and a customer gets a 8 year old range cow equals lost customer. But if you can clear the early hurdles, it is a profitable way to market beef. I have some folks who buy beef every year and have for a decade. :D

Gee,sell between 25 and 35 steers a year. :shock:

Don't the neighbors miss them? :shock: :wink: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Not yet! :shock: 8) SHHHHHHHHHHH! :wink: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

mrj

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Going by experience AND what respected 'cow' college experts and others successful in raising, feeding, and selling excellent beef, isn't there far more than proper feeding involved in producing great marbling, tender, tasty beef?

I believe genetics is vital as the base. Very low stress in the entire life of the animal seems proven to affect tenderness and maybe more. Feed is important and probably affects fatty acid profiles.....but how much and how important is it? Much has been learned recently, and more needs to be, along with evaluation of many issues re. feed.

Sorry, but I'm way out of time. Doc appointments this afternoon.

More in a couple of days, or tomorrow If we get home in time. It's an interesting subject with so many 'right' ways, IMO.

mrj
 

andybob

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I have sold through farm shop, private sales (1/4 carcase boxes), and specialist products to expat communities, all work well and are profitable, but require a lot of hard work and commitment to get started. In Rhodesia and in England I have trained people to take over the meat processing, I didn't get that far in the USA, the 5 1/2 years I spent there was still within the starting up period.
Another option is to join a breeding scheme with a guarenteed market with a premium paid on the steers sold through the scheme, I don't know all the details, but the American Bonsmara breeders have a buy back/premium payment scheme if you want to research that option.
 

PureCountry

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We sell through our website, farm gate and a store we own in town. We tried running to farmer's markets 2 or 3 times a week for over a year, didn't pay because we are 2-2.5 hours from the bigger markets. Transport costs killed our profit margin. And fuel ain't getting any cheaper.

Now we take orders and coordinate monthly deliveries. We used to sit at a market all day wondering how much we'd sell, and go home with $200-300. Now we have it sold ahead of time, meet them all in 1 parking lot and come home with $2,000-3,000.

Ours is all grass finished so it's a seasonal deal. I do agree with Leanin H however that feed is critical, whether it be pasture or processed feeds. My theory is that it's 70% nutrition, 10% handling/stress and 20% genetics. It's awful tough to make the best genetics marble well on poor feed. And I've taken a very "diverse" cross section of genetics, fattened them together on very high quality rye/alfalfa/clover/fescue pasture where the soil was well balanced, and had it all turn out as great beef.

My suggestions, listen to what H said, listen to what anyone says, make notes, try some things and work out what works for you. Figure your costs down to the penny, and give yourself a good margin. Maybe the only thing I disagree with H on - slim margin to start with??? If you can keep your cost down, and you don't have to drive 200 miles to deliver it, give yourself a good margin and it will be alot more rewarding from day 1.

Keep in mind, all that goes into the soil comes back to us in our food. Focus o your soil. Test it, and fix it.
 

leanin' H

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PureCountry said:
We sell through our website, farm gate and a store we own in town. We tried running to farmer's markets 2 or 3 times a week for over a year, didn't pay because we are 2-2.5 hours from the bigger markets. Transport costs killed our profit margin. And fuel ain't getting any cheaper.

Now we take orders and coordinate monthly deliveries. We used to sit at a market all day wondering how much we'd sell, and go home with $200-300. Now we have it sold ahead of time, meet them all in 1 parking lot and come home with $2,000-3,000.

Ours is all grass finished so it's a seasonal deal. I do agree with Leanin H however that feed is critical, whether it be pasture or processed feeds. My theory is that it's 70% nutrition, 10% handling/stress and 20% genetics. It's awful tough to make the best genetics marble well on poor feed. And I've taken a very "diverse" cross section of genetics, fattened them together on very high quality rye/alfalfa/clover/fescue pasture where the soil was well balanced, and had it all turn out as great beef.

My suggestions, listen to what H said, listen to what anyone says, make notes, try some things and work out what works for you. Figure your costs down to the penny, and give yourself a good margin. Maybe the only thing I disagree with H on - slim margin to start with??? If you can keep your cost down, and you don't have to drive 200 miles to deliver it, give yourself a good margin and it will be alot more rewarding from day 1.

Keep in mind, all that goes into the soil comes back to us in our food. Focus o your soil. Test it, and fix it.

Pure Country has forgotten more about this subject than I'll ever know, so listen when he talks! :D I am following in his footsteps and can't see his dust. I really agree with the formula of feed+handling+genetics. While good quality genetics are sure a plus, if you feed a potentially great calf cardboard, the tenderness, marbling and taste will disappear regardless of potential. In a perfect world you will do a great job in all areas of production. The only reason my margin's were so low was I enjoy hardship and being poor! :lol: :lol: I have to drive 200 miles to get my mail! :wink: Sell great beef and the price will take care of itself. Sell poor quality beef and you won't for long. :wink:
 

burnt

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leanin' H said:
. . . Sell great beef and the price will take care of itself. Sell poor quality beef and you won't for long. :wink:

While the rest of 'H's post was sound, it's not quite that simple and clear cut everywhere in this old world concerning price and quality. Here in southern Ontario there are a lot of farmers who think that if they get the same or a bit more (plus butchering costs) than they would through the ring, they are doing O.K.

And most consumers are more likely to go for price over quality.
 

andybob

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Those who are already selling, here is a link to a site with information and free advertising, there are news and information updates which everyone might find interesting;

http://www.themeatsite.com/directory/advertise/signup.php
 

PureCountry

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burnt said:
leanin' H said:
. . . Sell great beef and the price will take care of itself. Sell poor quality beef and you won't for long. :wink:

While the rest of 'H's post was sound, it's not quite that simple and clear cut everywhere in this old world concerning price and quality. Here in southern Ontario there are a lot of farmers who think that if they get the same or a bit more (plus butchering costs) than they would through the ring, they are doing O.K.

And most consumers are more likely to go for price over quality.

That's marketing Burnt. If I tried to make a living selling grass finished beef in a town of 700 people in barley country, I'd go broke quick as a hiccup. Marketing is the toughest part of it all. I grew up farming and raising beef cattle so learning how to finish them on grass or amend my soils or breed cattle that finish quicker on grass while improving carcass traits, all came alot easier for me than learning how to market. From packaging regulations and food handling permits to facebook pages, websites, blogs, and customer service, marketing in my opinion is the most important factor in the success of a business.

I can have the best damn beef in the country, but I'm not going to sell much of it in a town as small as Hardisty. I'm not going to sell much if I don't advertise. I'm also not going to sell much if I have the people skills of a gut-shot badger. So, we advertise far and wide, through a store, through facebook and our own website. While I work on my people skills, I also try to find the time to constantly improve on the soil, genetics and meat quality. The wife is the glue that keeps it all together of course.

Leanin' H, thanks for the compliments, don't play down what you're doing/done either though. We've got a long way to go ourselves before this place and our store are paid for. And you hit it on the head when you talk about it being a formula. There are alot of factors, and to get it right you have to take a look at the system as a whole. All pieces of the puzzle need attention. That's my take at least.
 

RSL

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We are WAY more amateur at this than the other posters, but I definitely agree with PC about margins. You are selling beef and your story (family, land stewardship, production methods, personal values, etc.). Set a good margin because the work you do is worth something and it is better to serve customers well than to need so many customers to make ends meet that no one gets served. Selling at a discount may be easier, but in essence you are saying that your product is really worth less than what you are asking the rest of the time.
 

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