Variety Packs What's in a Package?
Facebook groups for Herdshare members. These are to help people in specific areas coordinate with each other about orders, shipping, and share recipes, cooking ideas, etc. One day soon I hope we can post videos about our farm goings-on, animals, news, etc:
Dawson Creek/Fort St John: https://www.facebook.com/groups/294876781583959
Tumbler Ridge/Chetwynd: https://www.facebook.com/groups/295829105010769
Grande Prairie and area: https://www.facebook.com/groups/616453252311432
North Peace region: https://www.facebook.com/groups/431617954462810
Edmonton and area: https://www.facebook.com/groups/285903359497481
Fort McMurray: https://www.facebook.com/groups/591217821591925
High Level/Zama: (coming soon)
Frequently Asked Questions
A short list of questions we hear most often, about shipping, freezer space, how to order, etc:
Q: How much does a side/half of beef cost?
A: Total cost varies with the actual hanging weight of the animal, which ranges from 220lb to 375lb per side. For Herdshare members, price we charge before the butcher's processing costs is $4.25/lb of hanging weight. A whole steer is $3.75/lb of hanging weight, so if you can find another family to order the other side, both of you will save. Including processing (slaughter/cut/wrap) your cost will be $5.25/lb for a half, and $4.75/lb for a whole.
Q: How much are processing costs?
A: There is a $100 slaughter fee, and cut/wrap/freezing are $0.85/lb hanging weight. Basically this amounts to $1/lb of hanging weight.
Q: How is the beef shipped, and will it thaw out in transit?
A: Orders are frozen at the processor. We generally deliver them directly to the trucking company, Manitoulin Transport. They keep it frozen in a freezer bin that has dry ice, and the bin is hauled in a truck with a reefer unit that keeps it frozen. Once it reaches your location, the order is kept frozen until you go an pick it up. Either the depot will call you upon arrival, or we will let you know. There are lots of contact numbers on the paperwork, and the shipments are closely tracked by both Manitoulin and ourselves, until they are safe in your hands!
Q: How much are shipping costs?
A: We advise people to plan on $30 for orders under 30 pounds. Pasture Packs are $32-$35 usually. Halves are under $150 to ship to most places. The more orders there are on the pallet, the less everyone's shipping will be. We don't send orders until we have enough lined up to make everyone's costs reasonable.
Q: Can I order 10 (or 20, or 25lb of rib (or any other type) steak?
A: No. Our business model is based on selling the entire animal, and all the associated cuts, so that people have an opportunity to make use of every part, including the so-called low-end cuts that are used to make nutrient-dense stews, soups, broths, and slow cooked meals. This allows us to keep our average prices lower than they would be if we were selling individual cuts of steak and roast. For people who don't have freezer space for a half or whole beef, we have developed the Pasture Packs, which amount to about one eighth of an entire animal and give people a chance to try almost all the cuts in one smaller order. The proportion of higher end steaks is also higher in these variety packs.
Q: How much meat will there be in a side/half?
A: Everything that was hanging on the hook at processor will be in your boxes....all your meat, all your soupbones, all your dogbones and trim. The amount of trim will increase the longer the animal is dry-aged. We will also ask you how much of a fat cap you want left on your cuts, and if you prefer them well-trimmed, the fat goes into the trim as well. It makes excellent dogfood, but is not for human consumption.
Q: How long does a side of beef keep in a chest freezer?
We find that beef keeps very well for at least a year, and even up to 18 months in a good quality chest freezer. We don't recommend storing it in the top of your frost-free fridge freezer compartment for more than a month or two because the defrosting cycle can affect the taste of the meat.
Q: I've never ordered a side of beef; what is the procedure?
A: First of all, we encourage everyone to buy in bulk. It saves you money, time, reduces your overall footprint, and it's a wonderful way to explore new textures and recipes.
Sometimes a phone call is the best way to place an order because that's the quickest way to answer most questions. Basically you put down your deposit, and then we talk about what you need for cuts a few days before the butcher is scheduled to do the cutting and wrapping. Once the animal is cut/wrapped the meat has to be frozen, and then boxed. The entire process from butcher to pickup is usually about a month. Depending where you live, it may be easiest for you to go and pick your meat up yourself, but we can usually arrange delivery as well. For out-of-province buyers, we are happy to arrange shipping if you request it.
Q: What is the turnaround time for a side or whole beef?
A: You can plan on about 4 weeks from butcher to pickup availability. Full payment, less any deposit, is due prior to pick-up/delivery.
Q: Do you always have meat available?
A: Normally we would say yes, because this is what we do for a living and we have animals finishing year-round so that we can supply our customers. However, these are unique times and we are seeing a tremendous increase in demand. We are doing our best to plan accordingly, but we strongly recommend that you place your orders early to ensure that we can fill them.
Q: How much freezer space will I need????
- A 45lb Pasture Pack fits easily into a top fridge freezer compartment with some room to spare. It fills a cardboard box that is 12"x14"x16".
- A beef side usually is 7-10 boxes, including trim and dogbones. A 370 lb side (9 boxes) takes a bit over a third of a 25 cubic foot chest freezer. It would fit in a 12 cubic foot one, but there wouldn't be alot of room left over.
Q: What is Welsh Black beef like compared to Angus?
A: We find our cattle are superior in terms of frame quality, tenderness, and flavour. Their double haircoat means that they don't tend to lay down a thick layer of fat under their skin. Instead, they accumulate fat around their kidneys and internal organs. We have also found that their fat tends to be much whiter in colour than that of "regular" cattle, which can be very yellow when they are strictly grassfed. The beef is still marbled, but not to the extreme degree that is typical of feedlot beef.
Q: Is your beef wet or dry-aged?
A: All our meat is dry-aged 17-21 days, to allow for increased tenderness and flavour. Most store-bought meat is wet-aged in big sealed bags that keep the juices inside; this means less "waste" but also gives a different flavour profile than our beef.
Q: How many steaks in a cow?
A: It is important to be aware that the high-end cuts on a carcass are only 10-15% of the total weight. We tell customers to plan on the meat in your boxes being about 20% higher end steaks/roasts, and shortribs; 1/3 braising/stewing cuts; 1/3 ground beef/stew; and then a nice box of soupbones. There will be a smaller box of trim and dogbones as well, depending on the length of the aging period, cutting instructions, etc.
A: Liver, heart, tongue, kidneys, oxtail go with "Side A" of an animal, unless you specify that you don't want them.