I have to brag my butcher shop up a little. I absolutely love working with them and let me explain why.
I have gone to several other butcher shops. One didn’t know his porterhouse from the the roast (no kidding) and another mixed meats from other people and did batches of hamburger all mixed together. One, I don’t think it’s legal to mix meats from different animals from different farms and two, I raise grass fed, pastured animals and I don’t want my stuff mixed with someone else’s products that feed grains. It’s my meats, I want to market MY stuff. I take pride in what I do and want to justifiably take credit for that.
I was referred to my current butcher. The first thing I ever had from him was breakfast sausage and it’s to die for!!!
Over the years, since that day in 2011 when they worked one of my steers, I’ve steadily taken him more and more business. We’ve developed a pattern and work together very well. I know what he needs, he understands my newbie customers and we know when to book, when to bring in, and when to pick up.
As the years have gone by, our relationship has become extremely smooth and seamless but not without a few glitches here and there. It’s been no different that a relationship between friends.
Here’s how we work things….
I have a running list of animals that will be heading for butcher. I’m usually prepared months in advance (example: booking pork for April in January) with what dates I need in what months. This means I need to refer to my handy and trusty planner.
I track weight gains, dates of births, genetics, and a random assortment of data. This data assists me with making the best determination about the dates I use. For example, I know that my target goal for beef is tenderness, some of that is altered as an animal ages. To keep the focus on the quality of tenderness, one of my focus items is age. My target goal is 16-20 months of age. This is where the genetics and previous experience, along with input from the butcher comes in…. certain lines with be more efficient and develop faster, so they go into the 16-18 month range. The slower lines that take that extra couple of months go into the 18-20 month range.
I’ve never butchered based on size. Contrary to what the industry likes to tell us, different genetic pools within any breed create a unique and different animal, in all kinds of aspects like height, feed efficiency, etc. Working with my butcher has taught me key things to look for: thickness of the tail head, development of the brisket, flatness of the back and hip region and so on.
Why is this important? It’s important because knowing all this data helps me to form a guideline to start developing a list of how an animal develops and growth, which also leads me to the optimal time assumption to finish that animal. All of this data and these assumptions allow me to plan up to six solid months in advance for upcoming butcher dates… Isn’t it crazy that I can look at genetic pool, growth data and development and decide NOW what animals with head to slaughter between August and December?
Each and every animal that goes off to the butcher is assessed at time of slaughter and the butcher will also provide additional comments at the time of pickup. He’s been absolutely fantastic about assisting me and helping me develop into someone who can take one look at a yearling steer and just know what’s happening down the road and when. His feed back also helps me alter genetics (removal of any Holstein cross due to high bone to meat ratio) as well as find anything else that might be notable, like odd lung tissue or a heart defect.
Now that we know how they have helped me prepare and helps me plan months in ahead, we make appointments 4-6 months in advance. This creates less stress for us both and I never have to worry about being “squeezed” in when I need a butcher done.
I handle getting all the cut sheets filled and we go over each at the time of drop off. If any questions arise, I handle them with my customer and usually get back to him with just a couple days.
I also know exactly how long the processing takes from the date of butcher…. normally, that is around 10 days. I’ll make the arrangements for pick up and he only has to deal with one person. I work with the customers for deliveries and pick ups from me, so he’s not overloaded with 4 people stopping in consistently.
We have a fantastic relationship and he’s been a crucial part of my development to make sure that I was still on the right track and I’m doing everything within my power to produce quality products for my consumers. He’s taught me about a variety of cuts, where they come from and been extremely patient with me at times.
All good butchers should be like my butcher… One that cares about keeping me in business, so he stays in business too. Of course, I’m not sure if he realized just how many he would start getting as the years went by… but nonetheless, he’s stuck with me now.
PS, it’s a total of 7 spring hogs and 11 fall beef. The total number of fall hogs is to be determined after next farrowing. He may change his mind about working with me next year LOL