Naturally-raised Beef and Veal
Gladhour Farm meats are carefully grown the way you would want your steaks, roasts, and burgers to be. The cattle during their lives have fresh air, sunshine, green grass in summer and hay in winter, a mineral supplement that includes kelp and vinegar and salt, and cool water from either a deep well (the same one our household used for drinking for many years) or from a tank coming from a pond catching rainwater. The beef herd animals have plenty of exercise. Among some of my animals I walk and look over their condition nearly daily. In summer, when grass is abundant, the rotationally-grazed ones move from one green pasture to another approximately every week and the continuously-grazed ones roam over a larger area and pick their own “salad” daily. When they are calves, typically the vet comes out to give the usual calfhood vaccinations to protect them from the most common and awful cattle ailments. From that point, their natural immunity is usually sufficient to keep them healthy. If an animal gets an ailment, because of weather conditions for example, s/he is treated at that time, but most animals are not given any antibiotic throughout their lives, and none are routinely fed antibiotics in their feed to increase growth. In addition, hormones—which are used in some feedlots for growth enhancement—are never used. Certified organic for row crops, Gladhour Farm tries to keep all GMOs off the premises. Therefore, on the rare occasion that a small amount of grain is used for a training aid or energy boost for a short period of time (this is not routine and is used for relatively few animals), organic oats is currently used. Most GF cattle’s life-diet is grass and hay only (after weaning from cow’s milk).
Meat safety is a worrisome issue these days. Since these animals never eat “feed” containing animal products, BSE risk is virtually non-existent (as it is believed that BSE results from ruminants ingesting animal products as food in their diet). Since they do not have hormones other than their naturally-produced ones, the concerns about hormone effects on human growth and reproduction do not come into play. Since they do not routinely receive antibiotics, Gladhour Farm animals’ meat does not contribute to the potential problem of humans encountering antibiotic-resistant bacteria when they NEED an antibiotic. And the health benefits for the consumer of grass-finished meat over grain-finished meat have become more widely known since Jo Robinson’s reporting (see www.eatwild.com).
When a Gladhour Farm animal is scheduled for meat, the meat can be processed in a number of ways. My current favorite, for the local customers who are interested in “custom” processing, the animal is bought at a liveweight price based on the local salebarn price at that time. Since a local processor is chosen and comes to the farm to drop the animal without his experiencing fear or trucking, I use a formula that equates to a roughly equivalent hanging weight price and the customer pays me as soon as I have the hanging weight, and pays the processor at time of pickup. (Customers buying at least a half can tell the processor their own cutup order.) Another way begins with my loading and trailering the animal to a processing plant; typically a USDA inspector is in attendance. The animal is inspected immediately upon its death. All the locker plants I use have been in business for many years and have good reputations in the community with local meat consumers. The slaughter is done in the approved manner and the carcass is carefully handled to protect from contamination. The carcass is dry-aged by hanging in a controlled-temperature cooler for a number of days. In the cases when you pre-order, the meatcutter cuts YOUR order to YOUR specifications regarding such things as thickness of steaks, number to a package, and preferred roasts. The ground meat is generally lean as these animals are typically “clean and lean” on grass. The meat is packaged, weighed, and frozen, and then is available for pick-up. When I choose the cut-up, the typical offering is now “30-pound samplers” and varies a little depending on the age/size of the animal (because T-Bones is preferable for the smaller animals rather than having tiny KC Strips and Filet Mignons).
All that said, and given that the humans are doing all that is within our power to make Gladhour meats a premium product for your nutrition and enjoyment, there are individual factors to take into account when you consider your meat purchase. Like handwoven scarves or handmade pottery, each animal that makes up “hand-grown” meat is an individual and is unique. Breed, size, age, and sex are variables that make flavor and tenderness differences that exacting palates may be able to distinguish. In addition, the weather conditions throughout the animals’ lives will vary from year to year, and grass composition and nutritional value will vary somewhat in accordance with the growing conditions provided in a given year. While animals are handled humanely, sometimes one may experience stress or on the other hand one may be of a very unexciteable temperament, and those factors may affect each animal’s individual taste. The locker plant handling the meat will age it according to their policies and facilities. Dry-aging for 14 days or more is preferred in a premium product for tenderness and taste, but such long aging brings with it a certain amount of carcass dehydration, along with the enzymatic relaxation of muscle fibers. So an optimal hanging time is desired and usually is one of the choices of the locker itself. Gladhour Farm is constantly seeking to make its meat the BEST in dining pleasure and healthy nutrition for its customers and is pleased with the working relationship with the lockers who process its meats. Occasionally, local buyers will have an opportunity to compare packages from alternative animals and be asked to evaluate flavor, texture, and tenderness preferences in relation to the rest of the meat purchase. While participation is voluntary, this is part of our ongoing efforts to bring the best to your table. The aim is always for high quality nutrition and excellent taste and tenderness; since there will never be absolute consistency in “hand-grown” animals, buyer feedback is welcomed/requested. A Gladhour Farm meat purchase supports a small family farm and a local, family-run locker business, and we thank you for your support!
Typical orders that may be made available are the following:
1. Animals may be ordered ahead by whole or by half. I also accommodate customers who want a split half (quarter). You may buy the animal live and deal with transporting and processing yourself and pickup of the meat, if you prefer. You may also buy the live animal by order and then I will schedule the processing. In this case, if you as a buyer are interested in this alternative processing, the animal is killed on farm (making for very low stress on the animal itself). A deposit will be due to GF when the order is made (and depending upon the scheduled processor, a separate check made out to the harvester) and before scheduled. The remainder of the payment to GF will be done based on the whole weight or by a formula on the “hanging weight” (if the animal will not be weighed live) after the hanging weight is determined by the processor. The buyer pays the processor directly for the processing as arranged with the processor when the order for cut-up is made (may be done before the scheduled date so that you have a rough idea). This is the best price for a meat order and is great for those buying large quantities or able to go in with friends for the whole animal.
At times, GF will handle all that for you–raising the animal, transporting to a USDA-inspecting processing facility, and, so far, attending slaughter and cut-up days to insure that your order meets your specifications. (Currently, I am rarely doing this as I prefer method 1 for the animal’s sake, my sake, and the buyer’s sake in avoiding handling fees.) The size of an order by this method can vary, since the buyer can still buy a whole or half. This method will be more expensive than the on-farm harvest because the animal must be loaded and transported, but the whole or half will be less per pound than a pack because of the fact that GF will not have meat left to pay for storage (and also because the packs are limited to the more premium cuts).
If the size of the half or whole is of major importance, please note that when ordering as the size of the animals vary quite a bit. Full Dexters are smaller, in general, than Dexter crosses, but some of the Dexter crosses—especially those with rare-breed dairy genes–should have a special taste less commonly available. Note: “Harvest” is usually between June 15 and November 15. Grassfed animals are best made into meat when they have had time to gain on good grass. Weather conditions (and resulting pasture conditions) affect harvest dates. Although meat may be available at other times of the year, generally an order of half or whole should be made BEFORE June 15 and left to the discretion of Gladhour Farm for the scheduling with the processing plant.
2. A Sampler of approximately 30 pounds has been a previous preferred method of selling smaller portions, and is an excellent choice for those who have not tried grass-only meat before. These packs include an assortment of packages of meat frozen and ready for your freezer, typically a portion of ground (around 10 to 20 1-lb pkgs), 1 pkg of liver (you may be pleasantly surprised!), possibly short ribs and/or brisket, approximately 5-6 pkgs of steaks and 3-4 pkgs of roasts (but remember that these are small animals—this quantity will approximately fill a large ice chest). The meat in this sampler may be either wrapped in white freezer paper or clear shrink-wrapped as well as labeled for ease of choosing dinner (wrapping depending on which locker facility processed that animal). These prices do not include any applicable taxes or shipping/delivery charges. The meat has not been injected with a solution for either added weight or added flavor–what you get is the real meat taste of fully grass-fed meat. Similarly, a sampler of veal (of around 20-30 pounds) is sometimes available. Of course the price for veal–and also the cost to me for the younger, smaller animals that are weaned–is usually higher at the per pound rate because the processing cost is higher per pound. Currently, this method is not often used by GF, so if buyer wants smaller portion it is recommended s/he put name on a list for a split half/quarter.
3. Occasionally, specific cuts may be available. If interested in this option, call for pricing and availability.
4. Grass-finished beef jerky is made by one of the facilities, but that option is only available if you pre-buy the round and request that custom treatment. The finished price should come out to be around $1 per ounceon the product (similar to WalMart’s price).
Pre-orders (with $100 deposit at time of order for small order; half the expected price for a large order; other special circumstances may apply) can be made now for the next beef harvest.
5. A veal calf, raised to point of harvest nursing its own mother’s milk and running around a pasture (not confined in a crate) is sometimes “harvested.” When available, such a calf (half or whole) should be excellent for a person who needs extremely mild meat.
These are NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE, but give an idea of what is often in a “sampler pack”:
Large Beef Sampler Y (approximately 30 lbs)–picked up at locker
1 pkg 2 T-Bone Steaks
1 pkg 2 RibEye Steaks
2 pkgs 1 Sirloin Steak
1 pkg 4 cubed steaks
2 Chuck Roasts
1 Arm Roast
1 Pike’s Peak or Sirloin Tip Roast
1 pkg liver
10-15 pkgs Extra Lean Ground Beef
The steaks are approximately 1-1.5 inches thick; the roasts are around 1.5 lbs +/-, and the packages of ground are approximately 1 lb each.
The flavor of this meat should be mild; the meat is very lean and tender because the animal was young.
Large Beef Sampler M (approximately 30 lbs)–picked up at locker
1 pkg 2 Filet Mignon Steaks
1 pkg 2 KC Strip Steaks
1 pkg 2 RibEye Steaks
1-2 pkg 1 Sirloin Steak
1-2 pkg 4 cubed steaks
2 Chuck Roasts
1 Arm Roast
1 Pike’s Peak or Sirloin Tip Roast
1 pkg liver
10-15 pkgs Extra Lean Ground Beef
The steaks are approximately 1-1.5 inches thick; the roasts are around 1.5 lbs-2 lbs +/-, and the packages of ground are approximately 1 lb each.
The flavor of this meat should be a more mature beef flavor, and the meat should be well-marbled and tender–as this breed has been known to finish tender on grass alone.