Buying Meat in Bulk (quarters and sides)

Michiyo-Fir

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#1
I know some of you guys are eating Paleo and I was wondering if anyone has tried to buy a quarter grass-fed or side of grass-fed cow? I've recently discovered there are quite a lot of farms around my area that sell either grass-fed, grain finished or grass-fed, grass finished beef in bulk.

If anyone has tried to do this, buy a large quantity and store it to eat slowly, how was your experience? How long did it take you to go to it, how many people in the family? How was your storage experience? Quality of meat? I'm interested in any kind of bulk meat, beef, pork, lamb, goat, game if you have experience in any.


I've just picked up 25 lbs of steaks and roasts from a grass-fed, grass-finished local farm which actually fits in much less space than I thought. Depending on how long the 25 lbs take us to go through, I'm thinking about buying a quarter. Hopefully in the future, I want to buy bulk beef, half pig and maybe whole goat (can't find any reasonably priced bulk lamb/chicken yet) all from local farms with no hormones/antibiotics/corn/soy) Would love to hear some other people's experiences!
 

Beanie

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#2
My parents have. The farmer said to only keep it for a year. They actually kept it for almost two... it took up MASSIVE amounts of space in their big stand up freezer. That's actually when I started using the freezer door for my stuff because there was nowhere else to put anything except for squeezing it in the door. =P My mom would probably never allow my dad to do it again because she was furious over how much space it took up and it took a long time to go through it because she would never remember to actually set it out to thaw.

A friend of mine went in with his family and did it, I think they split it four or five ways and he said it lasted about six months. His parents took the bulk of it and his siblings split the rest. He was really happy with it, thought it tasted great and it was a good deal since they bought SO much and split it between all of them. I'm sure he would do it again, but they don't really have the freezer space for him to do it on his own (they live in a condo right now with no separate freezer and no garage to put one in.)

One of my friends buys her meat fresh at the farmer's market every week. There's a farmer couple that brings in meat every week, they will bring stuff specifically for you after you've been buying from them for a while so that's how she does it. They bring exactly what she wants every week. It's not quite as cheap because she doesn't buy it in bulk, but it's cheaper than the grass-fed/organic/fancy schmancy meat you can get at the grocery stores.


I don't actually like beef so, yeah, never done it, and the farmer's market couple is really nice but out of my price range. I just stock up on chicken and pork at the grocery store when they have bangin' sales and put it in the freezer. For me, it never lasts as long as I think it will, because since I know I have it, I start eating it like every night. =P As long as you get it in the freezer while it's still fresh (rather than the panicked OH GOD THIS IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE FREEZE IT QUICK that my mom does), everything tastes just fine. I will say that pork out of the freezer doesn't always look or smell right while you're cooking it - it gets a bit scary sometimes, haha. But it's always perfect and completely normal when it's done.
 

Michiyo-Fir

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#3
We (mainly my boyfriend) eats a massive amount of meat on a weekly basis. We also make a week's worth of lunches to pack for both of us. I think on average, just for 5 lunch meals for the week, we use around 5-6 lbs of meat. Of course, we're not going to be eating beef every single week even if we had it in bulk so that's why I can't seem to determine how long it will take to eat it all. A quarter of a grass-fed cow is about 85 lbs from this particular farm, if we only take into account 5 lbs of lunches a week, it should be about 17 weeks worth. If we hypothetically eat beef every 3rd week for our lunches, we should finish the quarter in a year. Plus I assume we're going to eat it more often since we have a lot and it's good quality (like for dinner, BBQ, etc), it seems like a good way to go about it.

My freezer is pretty big on my fridge, the 25 lbs we bought only took up about 1/8th of my freezer.

I would love to buy bulk pork, chicken, and lamb/goat too. If I could get a quarter of beef, half a pig and whole goat alternative, and a ton of bulk chickens, all humane, all from local farms where the animals get to actually move around and live their lives, I would be so happy.
 
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#4
My family has gone in on part of a side the last couple years, this year my family is going to split a half and my fiances family is getting a half. You end up with a lot of hamburger so plan on that but otherwise it's great, ends up being a little under $4/pound for us which is cheaper than any normal cuts here at the store. Grass fed cows must be smaller? Ours are grain finished and a 1/4 is about 300#.

We don't eat a ton of meat really because of the cost, I've been out of hamburger for about a month, still have a few steaks, used all the roasts pretty quick, going to be eating pretty good this next year though hopefully. I plan on eating it over the course of the year, it stays fine and if anything did go off I'd just give it to the dogs. I've got 3 freezers so space isn't a concern, it really doesn't seem to take up much properly packaged anyways. I've got a couple family members interested in buying a pig but I don't know anyone who raises them, probably fairly costly this year anyways.
 

Michiyo-Fir

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#5
Wow, 300 lbs for a quarter?! Is that hanging weight or take home weight?

We get about 80-90lbs take home weight (frozen) from a quarter of a cow. I do believe grass fed cows are smaller but I didn't know the difference was so tremendous.

With our supplier, we can choose the amount of stewing/hamburger meat we want. Some people opt to have no ground me at all. In our 80 lbs, most people take 20-25 lbs of hamburger meat usually which isn't huge and is easily usable I think.
 
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#6
Hanging weight last year was 373 for our quarter, we split it three ways and took home about 90 pounds each. Which I've always heard you lose 25-35%. This year we are getting a half, my mom still wants the same as last year but my sister and I will split the rest. We do use hamburger on a pretty regular basis, at least a pound a week probably so we've always gone through it, if there's way too much this time I will send it my brothers way or for family bbq's/shack meat. Our summer is almost non existent here so I'm not sure fully grass fed beef is even an option. There's two main sellers in my town and both grain finished.
 
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#7
We at working through half a lamb right now. I will say that the bigger pieces (like the leg) are a little daunting.

Though it means a lot to us that it is local, it is amazing meat, and we know exactly how it was raised.

I would like to look into do I this more regularly in the future.
 

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