All Natural Beef from The Greer Farm
Grass- Fed or Grain-Finished
The Customer's Choice
Our price structure is simple. The total cost of the beef (paid to us) and processing (paid to the processing facility) is about $4.70/pound hanging weight. A split quarter will cost about $550-$650 depending on steer weight. Our steers are finished heavy and normally weight 975 to 1,200 pounds live. For lighter steers, the total price will be less. This will give you better marbling and finish. Details are below. We believe our hanging weight price of $4.70/pound compares well with other grass-fed beef suppliers. Updated May 2013
At the Greer Farm we strive to provide the very best all natural beef possible to our customers. We offer healthy grass-finished beef and grain-fed and grass-finished beef by the split quarter, half or individual package. Our Fullblood Maine-Anjou cattle live their lives in a low stress environment rotating between pastures so they have fresh green forage in the warm season and in the winter they get free choice hay and hand fed alfalfa hay. This life suits our cattle and they remain naturally healthy. We do not feed antibiotics, growth hormones or any artificial supplements. Our beef is sold by the split quarter or half, and, we have Texas Dept. of Health inspected beef for sale by the individual package. We have lean ground beef available all the time in one pound packages. All of our cattle is grass-fed, and most grass-finished, but if enough customers desire grain finished, we can provide that, too. We believe we offer a beef product that will exceed your expectations at a fair price.
Texas Natural Beef From The Greer Farm
We get a lot of questions about the differences in the raising of our beef versus others, including feedlot beef, and the difference in grass-finished beef and that finished on grain. To start with appreciate the diversity in the cattle industry. There are 250 breeds of cattle and each has its own attributes. With cross-breeding the genetic variations in beef is magnified. If you want cattle that fatten quickly on grain in a feedlot, you want Angus or Angus influenced cattle. If you want cattle that have a disposition to finish on grass, you want what is called an Exotic or Continental breed (originating from continental Europe). Our cattle are Maine-Anjou. Our breed is from France and there Mane-Anjou beef is considered the premier beef for white table restaurants. Most of the cattle raised in the U.S. today have been cross-bred with Angus so they have a black hide and have the Angus disposition to fatten on grain. It is sad, but the fact is that any cattle 51% black is considered Certified Angus in the meat trade. What you buy in the store is probably not purebred Angus beef. The majority of Maine-Anjou cattle in the United States and Canada are black. They call them purebreds versus the original cattle we breed that are colorful red and white, and called fullbloods. Our cattle are very good mothers with a lot of milk, docile and easy to work around.
How Do We Raise Our Cattle?
We are third generation ranchers who prefer the more traditional ways of raising cattle. We have not changed the way beef is raised on our ranch from the days of my grandfathers well over a century ago. Of course, we do not have access to the vast amount of land they had, nor do we raise thousands of cattle. Our techniques may have improved, breeding is more sophisticated, and we have more medicines available to insure our cattle stay healthy (which we use only if they are sick). We stick to a time-tested recipe: fresh air, clean water, shade trees, green grass or clean hay, and a low stress environment. Our cattle get lots of TLC... tender, loving care. Our cattle are pampered, and for better or worse, each of our cattle has a registered name. We do not just give them a number and end with that. Barbie, Bruno, Maria and Tarzan -- all have a home at our ranch. When a calf is born, we are excited. When one is sick, we are concerned. Whey they leave the farm, we miss them. They say a photo is worth a thousand words...
Grain Fed or Grass Fed - Grass Finished: The Customer's Choice
Just as everyone looks different; each of us has our own preferences in the taste of what we eat. We offer finishing options to our customers. Grain fed beef from our ranch will be similar to that you buy in the grocery store, but different. As our cattle do not spend their life eating grain in a confined feedlot, they are less fat, less marbled, more flavorful and healthier than other beef you can buy. They have never received daily antibiotics and bicarbonate of soda in their feed.
An old rule of thumb is that it requires 50 bushels of grain to finish an animal in a feedlot. There are 56 pounds of corn in a bushel, for example, so you will need around 2,800 pounds of corn (and other grain) to produce an animal that weighs 1,250 to 1,350 pounds. Some cattle sent to feedlots young and lighter consume about 3,500 pounds.
In contrast, cattle finished at Greer Farm on grain live in a pasture in a natural environment, free from the stress of a feedlot. We have a source of all-natural grain, free of antibiotics and other artificial growth stimulants. Our grain finished cattle are fed a mixed diet of grass, grass hay, alfalfa and grain for 60 days or so prior to harvest. They lose weight the first days when we introduce grain into their diet, but as they adapt to it will start to gain weight. The steers we finished last fall consumed about 1,700 pounds of grain each. This is enough to add marbling.
Grass-finished beef is different. You have to thaw it out differently, use different cooking techniques and it will have a different flavor and texture than a package of prime or choice beef bought in the grocery store. It is more healthy for you and you will appreciate the wonderful flavor this natural beef has when properly prepared. We can provide information on how to cook with grass-finished beef or it is available on the web and in a number of special cookbooks on that topic.
The choice -- grass-finished or grain fed -- is the customer's. Our overall goal is to provide you the most satisfying beef you have every tasted.
What Can You Buy?
We sell our beef by the split quarter or by the half. A split quarter has all of the same cuts as a half, but only 50% of the quantity. A split quarter is about 2 freezer shelves or about 80-110 pounds of packaged beef dependingon the live weight of the steer. If a split quarter is too much beef, perhaps you can find a friend or relative to share it. Depending on availability, for a higher price we have beef available here at the farm by the package., including ground beef.
What Does It Cost?
We charge $4.25 per pound hanging weight for our cattle. (price effective January 1, 2014) There are two weights for cattle, live weight, which is that taken when the animal is still alive, and the hanging weight, taken after harvest when it has been cleaned and the carcass is ready to age. There is no reason to charge for the parts of the animal that you do not get, so that is why the hanging weight is used.
The processing plant charges you $9.50 per split quarter for harvest and 66 cents per pound for processing and packaging, based on hanging weight. Therefore, the cost is about $4.95/pound hanging weight.
Many ask why beef bought from a family farm is more expensive than beef bought in a grocery store. The actual average cost is not much different. Cattle finished on a family farm are there for 24-28 months, while cattle that go through a feed are generally slaughtered before they are 12-13 months old. A lot more expense is involved in caring and feeding cattle over the longer time span. This extra time is the family farm's opportunity loss for land and resources that could be used for developing another animal if we sold to the feedlot.
Basically, you can buy our beef for about $4.95 per pound based on hanging weight.
We believe this is a very competitive price.
DEPOSIT of $200 per quarter is NON-REFUNDABLE ONCE AN ORDER IS PLACED
Our beef is humanely harvested, processed and packaged at a Texas Dept. of Health inspected facility about an hour from the farm near Paris, TX. After harvest, the beef hangs in a humidity-controlled cooler for several weeks to dry age. Dry aging affects the beef in several ways. The process evaporates some of the moisture from the muscle, creating a richer beef flavor. It also allows the beef's natural enzymes to break down the fibrous tissue, relaxing the proteins in the muscle and naturally tenderizing the meat. Beef processed in a slaughter plant is not dry aged; it is boxed and ready for shipment to the store within hours of the cattle's arrival at the plant.
You can select your own cutting and packaging options. You determine for yourself the thickness of the steaks and roasts and how many per package. If you do not want certain cuts, you can have more hand-cut stew meat, chili meat or ground beef. This process personalizes your selections.
What Do You Get In A Split Quarter?
You are making your own selection of cuts and packaging, We can discuss this with you before you make a purchase decision. A normal split quarter fills 2-1/2 shelves of a full size upright freezer.
We know you have a choice and have priced our beef to be competitive with other family farms in our area. Beef is available on a first come, first served basis. If interested in a quarter or more, we ask you pay a $200 deposit per quarter to confirm your order. If your desire grain finished beef, we will take your order and deposit when we have four quarters sold.
DEPOSITS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE ONCE AN ORDER IS PLACED
Thank you for considering us as your beef supplier
We appreciate your support of our family farm
The Greer Farm 1444 CR 1125 • Daingerfield, TX 75638-7234
Farm 903-645-3232 • Cell 903-452-9738
www.greerfarm.com • Fax 903-645-7752 • email@example.com
Additional Information on our family's involvement in the beef industry the last 120 years, a brief history of the beef industry during this time and
issues regarding grain finished beef from our January 2010 Greer Farm Newsletter.
Taking A Step Back In Time
I am a third generation Texas cattleman. Earlier generations of the family raised cattle on their farms before immigrating to Texas from Russia and Kentucky, but I know more about my grandfathers' lives. There is a photo in my office taken on a ranch near Wichita Falls, Texas, around 1900 with my grandfather on horseback on a bluff overlooking hundreds of red and white Herford cattle. These cattle were raised only on grass, no grain, and when fat and ready for market, they were was loaded into rail cars and sent to Fort Worth to be sold into the broader beef market. Some were slaughtered in Fort Worth in the large Swift plant, but most went north to St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago. In those days, there was the rancher, the railroads and the stockyards leading to a slaughter plant closer to the major population centers.
Changes After World War II
After World War II, there was a surplus of grain. An easy way to get rid of it was to build single purpose facilities (feedlots) to raise animals to consume it. These factory farms changed everything. Cattle were no longer finished on grass pastures and sent to city distribution centers, but instead they went to very large feedlots close to where grain was produced. Near these feedlots, new slaughter plants were built. All of this happened not so long ago. The first cattle feed lot was built in West Texas in 1955. Factory farms to raise hogs and chickens also started to appear on the American landscape. This was the turning point where beef and other meats moved from being healthy to being something less than healthy because of how they were raised and what they were fed. There are well-documented problems with grain-fed animals. Northwestern Health Sciences University has an interesting web article expanding on this.
A Paradigm Shift
The way many believe cattle are raised (based in part on western movies) has changed dramatically in the last 50 years. "Producers at the beginning of the beef cycle – ranchers – were moving away from consolidation. Some of the largest historic ranches were split up in the 1950s. Originally, these huge ranches in the West would breed the cattle, raise the calves and even finish them on vast expanses of grassland. But as the nation's tastes demanded grain fed beef, more and more ranchers were relegated to the breeding alone. Most ranchers ended up selling yearling calves to other feeders. Other ranchers sold out. Of the 70,000 ranches in 1945, about 10,000 went out of business by 1980. That's a higher rate of survival than the nation's mixed farming operations – since 58 percent of the farms sold out during that period – but some of the largest and best-known ranches were among the casualties. For example, the Matador Land and Cattle Company had been set up in 1882 and ran 50,000 head of purebred Hereford cattle on 1.5 million acres, mostly in Texas. In 1951, the company was liquidated, the land divided up and the assets sold. Other large ranches, like the fabled King Ranch in Texas, survived largely because of their oil revenues." Source: Bill Ganzel, 2007.
The advent of factory farms also changed the environment in ways not considered pleasant. "You can smell Greeley, Colorado, long before you can see it. The smell is hard to forget, but not easy to describe, a combination of live animals, manure and dead animals being rendered into dog food. The smell is worst during the summer months, hanging heavy in the warm air, almost assuming a physical presence, blanketing Greeley day and night. Some people who live there no longer notice the smell; it recedes into the background, present but not present, like the sound of traffic for most New Yorkers. Others can't stop thinking about the smell, even after years; it permeates everything, sickens them, (and) interferes with their sleep. Greeley is a factory town, one where cattle are the units of production." Source: Rolling Stone Magazine, "Fast Food Nation: Meat and Potatoes, 1998."
The difference in Grass Finished and cattle that are Fed Grain
Basically, when you raise cattle or any ruminant in a confined area with grain as its basic food source, you will have problems. I can tell you from my own experience, the cattle we feed grain to smell different. They have a sour smell. Those on grass, hay and alfalfa are more pleasant to be around. So what is the specific problem with grain fed animals and grain fed cattle in particular? "Ruminant" animals are “cud-chewing” species, such as cows, goats, sheep, and bison. Their specialized digestive system has evolved to digest the biodiversity of grasses found on pastureland. When ruminant animals (such as cattle) are fed a grain-based diet, it can cause them a range of health problems, including:
ACIDOSIS: Most feedlot ruminants suffer from a persistent form of acid indigestion.
RUMENITIS: Acidosis can lead to an inflammation of the wall of the rumen. This can eventually become ulcerated.
LIVER ABSCESSES: As the rumen wall becomes ulcerated, bacteria pass through the walls, enter the bloodstream, and make their way to the liver where they cause abscesses.
BLOAT: All ruminants produce gas as a by-product of digestion. When they are on pasture, they belch up the gas without any difficulty. When they are switched to a diet of grain, gas becomes trapped by a dense mat of foam.
ASPHYXIATION: In serious cases of bloat, the rumen becomes so distended with gas that the animal is unable to breathe and dies from asphyxiation.
FEED LOT POLIO: When the rumen becomes too acidic, an enzyme is produced which destroys thiamin or vitamin B-1. Lack of vitamin B-1 starves the brain of energy, creating paralysis. Cattle with feedlot polio are referred to as "brainers."
From the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture ©2009 CUESA. All rights reserved
There is a lot of additional information at Eatwild.com or your can Google the "benefits of grass-fed beef. Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma is also an excellent source of information. Grass-finished beef is high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E, beta-carotene, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and more. There is little to no risk of mad cow disease from grass-finished animals.
Not wanting to toss out the baby with the bath water, I do not want to condemn the entire beef feed lot industry. There are those who do a better job than others. Some feed lots have more room for the cattle to be confined in and clean their waste more often, but the basic problem is they all feed a diet of grain filled with medications and antacids to cattle that have received artificial growth and other stimulant treatments. On our ranch, we grain finish some cattle, but they are on a grass pasture, have free choice of hay, all natural grain and no artificial anything. So if you want more marbled beef, it is possible without resorting to feedlot beef.