BeefGrass-fed, humanely raised right here at the Lazy B
Yep! I own my own herd of cattle! I have about 30 head which includes, mommas and babies.
I’ve not always been a “cowgirl”….but I’ve always known that I wanted to provide grass fed/grass finished beef for my family.
We have 5 girls and 1 boy. I started seeing the effects of growth hormones in my girls when they were little – early breast development and menstruating at a young age. I promised myself that if we ever had land, I wanted to raise my own meat with no hormones!
When we moved to GA and bought our first goats, the farmer had Holstein calves at his place. When I asked him why, he said he bought them from a local dairy farm and raised them out for meat. At that time (2003), a bull calf from the dairy was only $40 – $50.
I contacted my local dairy and it wasn’t long before we had Holstein bull calves on our farm! I figured if I raised 2 at a time, I could keep one for us and sell the other one, thus covering our costs and making a little extra money.
We were milking 4 dairy goats and had more than enough milk to raise out the two calves. Powdered replacement milk was so expensive and besides, goat’s milk was much better nutritionally for the young calves.
It didn’t take long for friends to hear about what we were doing and I sold my first cow without any problem! Then we had more requests for raising out a calf for a family or a group of friends and soon we had 3 cows on our farm. That’s when our “Cowpooling” began in earnest.
This system worked well for a few years….
And then two things happened.
Someone must have spread the word about the price of bull calves because it wasn’t long before they became more and more expensive. And the price of commercial beef began to rise….
I had more and more people asking about our beef but I’d maxed out our land and couldn’t grow out more than 2 steers at a time.
One day, in 2009, I met a gal who had land and a few cows. She grew up on a farm and her family raised cattle on 600 acres! Lynn and I set up a partnership – she would grow out steers for ma and I would buy them from her, paying a little above market value.
It wasn’t long before I had people asking me if they could purchase beef by the piece instead of buying a quarter of cow. They’d like to purchase a roast or just a couple pounds of ground beef.
I decided it was time to branch out and obtain my private label from the USDA for Lazy B Farm beef. After completing paperwork for the butcher and the Department of Agriculture, waiting for approval, and then writing checks to various departments, I finally had my own private label for Lazy B Farm beef!! For me, it was quite an accomplishment J
Next, I purchased a few freezers and obtained the property licenses for hauling and selling beef.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that between the costs of retailing cuts of beef and buying steers from another farmer, I wasn’t profiting much from my beef endeavor. I was barely in the black and spending a lot of time trying to make it all work.
After much thought and consideration, I decided the most cost effective beef enterprise would be to purchase my own herd – to run a cow/calf operation. I’d purchase the cows and a bull, breed them, wait for the calves to be born, and then grow them out myself. This decision would definitely set me back on the amount of beef I’d have available initially but in the long run, it would be worth it!
In 2013, I purchased my herd. The timing was fortuitous. My friend, Lynn, was selling her herd so she could move into town. I purchased a couple of her cows and a heifer, Herefords and Black Baldies ( a cross between Hereford and Angus).
A couple who’d been students of mine in our Beekeeping Series were downsizing their herd. I bought all of their herd, including the Angus bull. Some of their cows were already pregnant!
I bartered my tractor rototiller and a breeding for 2 calves from another friend.
All three of these purchases were made from Vets and a Vet Tech who worked at UGA so I knew the cows were in great shape.
My last hurdle – to find land I could lease…
I met Julie in our Beekeeping Series and found out she and her husband, Brad, had a lot of land and weren’t using it currently. I worked out a deal with them and kept my herd at their farm.
In August of 2013, I brought all my cows together and they got along beautifully!
On New Year’s Day of 2014, a bull calf was born in my herd! I named him Jack Frost. Twenty months later, I took Jack Frost to the processor….We were finally in the grass fed/ grass finished beef business!!
Patience has definitely been the name of this game. Slowly we’ve raised the number of cows in our herd and this year – we had 17 calves born – 13 will be steers for our wholesale Cowpooling! We are FINALLY over the hump of beginning growth.
Honestly though, all of this, our long history of raising beef since 2004, is so worth all the ups and downs and hard work when I hear a customer say how much they love our beef!