Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How Much Meat ...

My post from yesterday, a couple of the comments, and some things I've been reading lately (Accidental Farmer's, Omnivore's Dilemma, etc.) have me wondering just how much meat one family could be expected to eat in a year ... or as some would pose the question ... how much meat should a family eat in a year. As I think about a farming model based more around the sale of wholes and halves rather than individual cuts I can't help but find myself thinking about how much a family (let's say of four) would need in one year. The profit watching side of me says that they need to buy a lot, but I want to be realistic as well.

Right now I'm raising beef (although I'm not to the point of doing wholes and halves yet), pork, lamb, and hopefully this summer meat chickens and a small amount of turkeys for the fall. On top of that there will be eggs available for sale and there is always the potential for fresh produce (not this year tough). If there were a solid base of customer families or couples committed to the farm and purchasing meat seasonally throughout the year I wonder how much a family/couple would want.

In my mind if I wasn't farming this would be the best way to purchase the meat my family would have throughout the year. I could have a freezer and just pick up different things at different times of the year. Maybe in early fall or late summer I could pick up a half of beef (remember I have small cows) and a turkey for Thanksgiving, maybe a little later a lamb, possibly a hog over the winter or sometime before Easter, and then throughout the summer some chickens until the cycle is started again. Of course this would take a little sacrifice/saving when it comes to meal planning throughout the year, but it would also give someone a lot of choices when it came to meat.

Of course that may be a little (or a lot) too much meat for some folks, so it could be altered a little. Maybe you still get a whole hog, but only a 1/4 of a beef (which wouldn't be a lot of Dexter beef), and then some poultry in the summer. I think there are lots of ways to attack this type of marketing and I think it has huge benefits for both the farmer and the consumer.

What do you think? How much meat would you be comfortable having throughout the year if you were buying in bulk (think wholes and halves)? Is that something you would even consider doing or does it seem inconvenient and possibly restricting when it comes to the meals you can eat throughout the year? I'd love to hear your thoughts

9 comments:

Christina said...

Since August of last year, our family of 6 (2 adults, two young boys and two toddler girls) has gone through a whole hog, 10 chickens, and we are currently working on a half of a half of a standard-sized beef. I think it would take some education for your customers (or potential customers) but for us, the money savings in addition to the far-superior quality of meat makes it well worthwhile for the "extra" budgeting and planning involved.

John said...

This is just one data point for you, but since I've been trying to raise or hunt all of our own meat I can give you a rough idea of how much our family of four ate last year.

About 30-40 chickens, two deer, and two small turkeys. We also ate something around 100 pounds of purchased pork and another 50 pounds or so of purchased turkey. The latter being the two items being the gap I'm trying to close.

I'm not sure how much the deer weighed, but you could probably translate them as one large sheep and one small (dexter right?) steer. (A big 8 pointer buck)

Also about 10-20 pounds of fish, but that's probably out of your line.

Hope that helps a little.

sugarcreekfarm said...

For our family of 5 (kids ages 15, 13 and 9) I figure 1/2 to 3/4 of a beef (regular sized, not Dexter); 2 whole hogs; and 24 chickens per year.

Issa said...

I'm ramping up towards producing most of my meat. I've got a family of two (with one more on the way, but that one won't be eating meat for awhile!) Last year we raised pigs, and one pig in the freezer was about right for us for the year. This year we processed 10 chickens acquired for free off of Craigslist and are raising 15 more right now. 25 chickens a year seems about right to us (especially given how much I hated processing them!) Our layers give us a carton or two of eggs a week. Sometime this year or next we're adding sheep for lawn mowers and meat. We probably won't raise our own cows, but maybe buying a half from someone else would be nice.

So... one pig, 25 chickens, a couple of sheep, and half a cow a year, plus a dozen eggs a week. I like buying in bulk and knowing how much of a supply I have. If I weren't producing my own, I'd love to have someone else to buy from. Prior to doing my own chickens, for example, I drove out of my way to buy someone else's frozen chickens, and I bought plenty to have on hand for a long time. This year I wanted to raise more pigs (just because I love having them around!) and I had no trouble finding a few friends who wanted to buy a whole pig.

Ethan Book said...

Hmmm ... this is pretty interesting. Thanks so much for sharing! I would say that there would be a lot of customer education involved, but it's a very cool possibility ...

Kelli said...

I cannot tell you how much thought this post provoked... I would love to purchase whole or half hogs and cattle but I don't know what my family consumes! How do you figure how much a family consumes on their particular diet?

Susie in MO said...

I know this is an older post, but it has been a thought in my mind this week. We are a family of five (three teen children). We've been growing our own meat and dairy for alost 7 years now. We have recently processed our first homegrown, grassfed beef. Prior to this we have grown meat chickens, turkeys and lamb. We also have dairy goats and laying hens. We bought a half grassfed Angus one year. It lasted only about 6 months. We may have had ground last longer. I didn't get yields with that purchase. Last year we had no red meat and grew out over 50 meat birds (5 pounds average). We home-process our pastured poultry and usually part out a majority of the birds. This year we didn't grow birds, we grew lamb and beef. We have 39 pounds of lamb in the freezer and roughly 425 pounds of beef (an entire 1140lb Jersey/Angus steer), and only 5 remaining chickens from last year. We have purchased our pastured Thanksgiving turkey from farmer friends. We consume a minimum of one dozen free range eggs per week (hens are not laying well right now) and 1/2 gallon of milk per day from our dairy goats (sometimes more and we make cheese, yogurt and kefir). Other factors are that one daughter is away at college, so not eating at home every meal. We do take "groceries" to her twice a month. I am wondering how long the beef will last and feel like we are eating way too much meat after having a "chicken" year last year! We did buy ground beef from friends and usually had it once a week...not often enough though.

Frances said...

We have a family of 2 with one on the way and I'd say 160lbs a year is a generous estimate. We make large meals so our meat lasts. We also use a lot of eggs (a dozen a week), legumes and milk (a gallon a week) to round out our diet. I bought a share of beef (20lbs of various cuts) from our CSA and it lasted about 4 months. We had a 10lb pork share that lasted about 2 months. We can't afford to eat a lot of chicken so I'd estimate we eat about 8 a year. These estimates are probably even higher than the average 2 person house ("should" be) because my midwife has me on a high protein diet.

Melody Meek said...

I'm late to this, but I thought I'd post in case it's useful to someone else. Last year, a quarter cow with all the offal lasted our family of two about a year - at that point we were still eating a good amount of supermarket chicken (80 lb from zaycon foods plus some from the store) and occasional pork.

Now we're transitioning to all farm meat. This year, we got a whole hog, and I'm planning on 24 chickens and a quarter cow. We go through 3 dozen eggs from a farm every two weeks. I'd love to get some lamb and a turkey in there if we can afford it. And yes, we do eat a protein heavy diet and a lot of stock.

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