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A herd of bulls grazing lush spring pastures in Northeast Texas.
Grassfed is best!
GRASS-FED ALLIANCE PRICING
Hanging Weights for Qualifying Grass-Fed Livestock
(Prices are subject to change on a daily basis)
The cattle market moved up dramatically in December 2010. Yes, it will continue to be rather volatile. But in time it appears prices may move even higher. How high they go in 2011 is anyone's guess. In order for grass-fed beef producers to see how Slanker floats its grass-fed beef price with the market please check out the following table. We have floored our price at $1.80 a pound hanging weight and it has been that way for years. But as the Live/Fat Cattle market jumps higher our price does too. That way our grass-fed producers are always in a win/win situation. Click here for current prices. Use the closest month closing price. Or for actual auction results click here. For a set of livestock charts click here.
All prices below were representative of mid-year 2010
and may not reflect current market conditions. They are
basically floor prices if the livestock markets drop.
$1.13 per pound Grass-Fed Cows in Good Condition
$0.90 per pound for thin Grass-Fed Cows
$1.27 per pound for Grass-Fed Bulls in Good Condition
$2.15 per pound for Grass-Fed Lambs
$2.10 per pound for Grass-Fed Goat
$1.17 per pound for Grass-Fed Hogs
Improving the Margin
Slanker's Grass-Fed Meats (SGFM) is the marketing arm of Ted Slanker's 640-acre ranch located in NE Texas' famous Red River Valley region. It is also a marketing alliance for livestock producers who know how to raise critters the Natural Way. The Natural Way is on forages (green leafy plants) and grass hay or alfalfa hay. Implanted hormones, grain, grain-based cubes, protein licks, ionophores, cooked chicken litter, silage, and other unnatural feeds, or feeds containing antibiotics are prohibited.
What Kind of Cattle Work?
For starters, cattle must have been raised on forage (green leafy plants common to pastures) or hay. They cannot have been fed grain or grain-based supplemental products at any time. And forage is forage. If you feel you have to call and ask if what your cattle ate will still permit them to be sold as grass-fed beef, more than likely the answer will be, "No!" Acceptable cattle must have been raised in a pasture environment without grain, grain-based supplementation, chicken litter, distillers solubles, silage, cottonseed meal, or other weird stuff OF ANY KIND AT ANY TIME.
For a fact, the cattle, pigs, goats, and lambs that we purchase cannot have been implanted at any time in their life. Plus they cannot have been fed minerals or feed supplements that contained antibiotics or ionophores. We tell the world our meat comes from animals that were raised naturally on grass. We tell them they were not implanted nor fed subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics. Consequently, every consignor to the grass-fed alliance must sign an affidavit to that effect. Also, consignors will have to personally certify that their cattle were raised on forage in a pasture environment and had not received any grain or other foreign feeds.
For optimum value and return, steers should weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds. Heifers should weigh 800 to 1,100 pounds. We frequently take lighter cattle. But the best values for the producer come from heavier cattle. Steers and heifers must be no more than 30 months old. The best "eating" cattle are harvested after they have been on the gain. Older grass-fed cows and bulls can qualify for SGFM's ground meat, sausage, and bologna program.
Grass-fed beef is a relatively lean meat product. But some breeds of cattle can put the fat on in a pasture environment and that is a big plus. SGFM meat will not be close trimmed when it is cut and wrapped. We want grass-fat beef.
Improving the Margins
Just because a producer raises grass-fed beef he should not expect a major premium price for his product. His primary benefit comes from having a market for a product he can raise for less than it costs to raise grain-fed cattle. In other words, raising grass-fed beef is a margin enhancing business. Clink on MARKET REPORT for a comparison between selling feeders to feedlots and holding on to them for the American consumer.
We do pay a premium price for grass-fed critters. But the major benefit is its lower cost of production. It takes 15,750 pounds of grass to raise a 500-pound calf and maintain its 1,200-pound mother for 12 months. That assumes every cow gets bred and all calves live. It takes 8,210 pounds of grass to raise a 500-pound calf to 1,000 pounds. If the cutout percentage of a 1,000-pound grass-fed steer is 55% (the range is 50% to 60%), on today's market he's worth $973.
Yes, some grass-fed producers are trying to market their own beef. But they are selling small volumes of product with high costs for fabricating, transportation, and marketing. And this is only part of the problem with marketing grass-fed beef. The other problem is very few consumers understand the importance of grass-fed beef in their diet. This means if grass-fed beef is going to be mass marketed, the marketing costs will be incredibly high for some time to come. And, yes, the product will cost more to deliver to the store than grain-fed beef because of the built in inefficiencies of dealing with small volumes.
Following the Beef Market
SGFM cannot provide consignors of grass-fed beef with a fixed price today that will be the same a month from now. The pricing formula for grass-fed beef changes with its supply and demand. And the price of grass-fed cattle is also influenced by the price of grain-fed cattle, which changes minute to minute.
SGFM's pricing structure is based on hanging weight at our designated packing plant. Generally speaking we pay about 10 cents per pound more than the grain-fed industry does for boxed prime beef. In addition we pay about a nickel more per pound for cows and bulls than the going price in our local area.
Pigs, Goats, Lambs, and Poultry
SGFM is seeking qualified livestock producers for pigs, goats, lambs, and poultry. Except for chickens and turkeys, our protocol calls for no grain or grain-based supplements. So if you feed grain, do not call us. Poultry can have been fed grain, but after they feather out they must have had access to fresh grass on a daily basis, in addition to their grain.
More To Come
SGFM understands that this brief description of a prospective business relationship only scratches the surface. In the years ahead more questions will come up and more answers will be found. So watch this page for additional information. We also provide a consulting service that teaches economically and environmentally sustainable ranching. In other words, we can show producers how they too can run a forage-based production system. For more information click on consulting.
One last comment. In 2000 we lined up several thousand head of grass-fed cattle and made a valiant effort to interest Texas-based grocers in the idea of introducing a Texas-based, grass-fed beef product. Every single grocer, including Whole Foods, was not interested in a more nutritious beef product. We were really shocked at how rude Whole Foods was to our offer. Are they more interested in selling "pet rocks" (niche market fads) and grain-fed beef rather than health and nutrition? You be the judge.
Check this out!
Contact Slanker's Grass-Fed Meats via e-mail at:
Grass-Fed Beef, It's What's Best for Dinner!
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