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April 14, 2011

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Walter Jeffries

You costs are well within what we see. We take pigs to butcher every week. This helps as it means we drive half the mileage since we pickup last week's pigs' meat this week as we drop off the pigs for next week. Still, it is seven hours of driving just to get to the butcher and back before we start doing our deliveries each week. This is a lot of the reason that we are building our own USDA/State inspected on-farm meat processing facility.

We minimize the vehicle cost because our delivery vehicle is an extended body E-250 cargo van. It is ironically virtually as long as our house at 19'6". The back ~half has a cargo space for carrying the live pigs and will fit up to six large finisher hogs. The next section forward is a chest freezer and then the passenger and driver space. We joke, quite accurately, that it carries six live pigs, six pigs of pork, six people and a dog. The dog rides shotgun. Since it is an old used van it is a lot cheaper than a trailer and larger truck.

Because we deliver weekly almost everything we do gets delivered for standing orders and CSA customers immediately which minimizes freezer space back at the farm. See this article about how we do delivery sequencing which also involves picking up apple pomace and other good things to make the van always run full - same gas usage: http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog/2010/04/delivery-sequencing.html

A critical factor for us is that our niche is weekly deliveries to area stores and restaurants of fresh and smoked pork. The stores especially don't want frozen. This means we need to be taking a consistent number of pigs every week, plus the random whole pig orders, to meet the standing orders. That means taking a large number of animals all at once and batching is not an option. Since we do farrow to finish, breeding all of our own livestock, it means about a ten month plan. Beef would be longer. Lamb we found didn't work for this as they are too seasonal as well as the demand not being strong enough in our area.

For home cutting of meat people might be interested in the DVD the butcher that my family apprenticed with just released. It is four one hour videos about butchering beef, lamb and pork. See: http://flashweb.com/blog/2011/03/cole-ward-dvd.html Cole Ward is his name and he is not just a master butcher but a fantastic teacher.

solomon

If you sell meat from a state inspected processer,does that meat have to be sold within the state it was slaughtered in? And here in north easter california the University of Nevada Reno has a processing facility that's usda approved slaughter ,cut and wrap.We're just getting going with our small operation but some of my neighbors use them and i believe it's $75 slaughter fee and 70 cents a pound cut & wrap per head basis. Only 50 miles away,so not to terribly long to drive,since we go there often anyways,and they'll label your meat with your labels if you bring them.

Rebecca T. of Honestmeat

Steve- yes you are right. I didn't go into that kinda confusing topic because those state inspected programs are actually equivalent to USDA regs and the usually charge the same prices and can be just as difficult to work with. But certainly for the states that have state inspected programs, producers might have more options and hopefully closer options for processing.

Andre Cameron

I'm impressed with how clean you got that pig :) I tried shaving once and failed miserably. Went to skinning and have never tried to shave again lol.

Steve Hoad

A slight correction: Where equivalent state inspection programs are available (I believe that is in 25 states right now) state inspected facilities can be used to create packaged meats for individual cuts. If, however, you process a pig in a state inspected facility, you cannot take the hams and bacon to a USDA facility for smoking.

elizabeth

This is pretty accurate for here in Australia too. I am a small scale, free range pork producer of heritage breed pigs. All the above costs, plus the cost of raising the animal in the first place...no wonder my prices are high!

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