In part 1, I detailed the cattle plan for the next two years. You’ll note a few things about this plan.
One, we still have cows that are well and truly finished to take us through the winter, except for February. These weights are from back in October so they’ve actually added a bit of weight since then. Remember, a well finished grass fed cow weights about 1100 pounds. We have cows finishing the middle of next year that already weigh 1000 pounds. We are in good shape.
Two, we were planning during early 2016 on growing our operation to where we would finish two cows per month in 2017. That plan has been shelved. We were looking to add more land in 2016 and land prices have gone sky high. We are not going to add land anytime soon.
Also, we have learned that finishing in 30 months vs 18-24 gives us a much better product. We are getting the marbling and fat of a grain fed cow in a cow that has only eaten grass, hay, and produce. It’s pretty amazing. We are going to tweak the times in our plan as we go but for now I’m planning on a 30 month age when we process our cows. This is quite a bit different from what anyone I know does where the name of the game is to get cows finished as quickly as possible. We are going the opposite direction, slowing things down and focusing on quality instead of volume. It’s quite a bit slower and means we have less cows available each month, but we think it’s for the best.
In support of this decision, we have greatly reduced our marketing efforts and are concentrating on our core group of customers and word of mouth. One cow per month is plenty for our current volume and we look to maintain and grow our business organically vs. through outside marketing. We still greatly appreciate your referrals, even more so now because that is how we acquire new customers. But I have a pretty quick answer to people calling here trying to sell me on their marketing campaign.
Despite not growing at the original planned rate, 2017 looks to be a good year. Even though we plan to only process one cow per month, the cows weigh quite a bit more. In 2015 we averaged about 500 pounds hot hanging weight per cow, meaning at 1 cow per month we had about 6000 pounds of beef for the year. In 2017, I hope to average about 850 pounds per cow or over 10,000 pounds of beef. Not exactly double but about 70% more than 2015.
Even though it will take us 6 months longer to finish the cow, we hope that moving more meat in the same trip will gain us some efficiencies in other ways. We are also expanding our store this winter, and also increasing our freezer space. If we can house more beef on site, I can cut out the one trip per month, and instead take two cows every other month, halving my trips to Siler City each year.
Some of these are firm plans. Some we are still just looking at. But the plan is to get more efficient in our time for 2017, allowing for more time spent on the farm, and less time driving. All while bringing you the absolute highest quality product you can get anywhere.