What does Naturally Grown Beef mean?
At Valley Ridge Farms we strive to raise our beef as close as possible to how they would exist if they could roam and graze freely in the wild on open grassland analogous to the North American Bison. Our cattle eat nothing but fresh green grasses and legumes (clover) in the spring, summer and fall, and are fed only mixed grass hay in the winter. We don’t feed them any grain or administer growth hormones or use insecticides for fly control. We practice the art of MIG Grazing (Management Intensive Grazing) which requires the constant rotation of the herd over to new pastures (paddocks) on a daily or every other day basis. This practice of MIG Grazing gives the cattle access to the fresher higher nutrition quality grass along with minimizing their exposure to those pesky disease carrying flies and tics that thrive in an overgrazed pasture littered with piles of cow manure.
Why do we choose to Grass-Finish instead of Grain-Finish our beef?
It is our belief that cattle can reach their full growth potential in open grassland / pasture environment by eating only a mixture of native grasses and riparian area plants (plants that grow along the edges of streams) and various weeds of their own choosing produces a healthier animal with more nutritious meat and fat. Finishing the beef on only grass produces a meat that is not only more flavorful than the traditional grain finished beef, but also has a tasty more palatable fat content that is high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids (the “good fat”).
Grass-Finishing the beef does take longer (~24-28 months) than the traditional Grain-Finishing (~14-18 months) operation because the animals need more time grow to their full potential naturally by only eating what a ruminants have biologically evolved to eat (grass and weeds) instead of being fed high calorie (high sugar content) feed made with various grains (some genetically modified) and are typically administered hormones and fed low levels of antibiotics, and various other feed additives.
I’m interested in buying beef in bulk what is the process? And is it “Dry Aged”?
Purchasing beef in quantity (Quarter, Half [Side] or Whole) provides a significant discount as compared to buying it piecemeal (See our Pricing Table). When ordering a Quarter, Half or Whole Beef in bulk you must first make a deposit with us. Unfortunately, since this a perishable product and we don’t have unlimited freezer storage space, your deposit is non-refundable so please be certain about your order before it is placed. Our bulk beef price structure is based on “hanging weight” or “carcass weight” (cwt) of the beef determined by the processor immediately after it is killed and stripped of its hide, entrails and extremities. Each beef is unique in size, weight, bone size, and fat content which directly affects the cut ratio of the animal. The cut ratio is the amount of meat that you will take home (packaged product) as compared to its original hanging weight which typically ends up being about 55% +/- 3%. One factor that influences the final cut ratio is the “dry-aging” process. When the beeves are sent to the processor they are usually dry-aged for about 9-10 days and then cut and packaged and placed in the freezer for about 36-48 hours. The process of dry-aging does in fact lower the cut ratio but the benefits it imposes on the beef (tenderizing and enhancing its flavor) outweighs the cut ratio loss or “shrinkage”. Incidentally some of the shrinkage realized during the dry-aging process would occur anyway during the cooking or grilling process because some of the moisture has already been removed and therefore you will notice less of a size reduction during cooking.
If you decide to order a Quarter beef when ordering in bulk you will be paired up with another Quarter beef buyer that has the same or as close to as possible types of beef cuts you desire within reason. Typically, Quarters are processed in a “Standard Cut” fashion that varies between the different processing facilities but usually consists of some basic roasts, steaks, and ground beef. Quarters are made up from an even split of a Half (or Side) of beef so you can get cuts from both the Front and Back (hind) Quarters of the beef. We try to match Quarter buyers up as close as possible to another similar buyer but unfortunately, it’s not a perfect process. We encourage our Quarter buyers to find another Quarter buyer say a family member or friend to split a Side of beef so that they can get the exact cuts they want.
Your beef will be shrink-wrapped and frozen at the processing facility where you will pick it up in coolers and take it home. You will be invoiced by us after the hanging weight has been determined so when you pick it up you will already be paid in full. The processor encourages our customers to pick up their beef within a day or two of freezing since they have limited freezer space. Please note that it is recommended to bring a minimum of two (2) 48-quart coolers for a Quarter, four (4) 48-quart coolers for a Half, and eight (8) 48-quart coolers for a Whole Beef when transporting it back home from the processor.
How much freezer storage space do I need to hold a Quarter, Half or Whole Beef?
A Quarter share of Beef will weigh between 70 and 120 pounds (more or less depending on the size of the beef (hanging weight) as well as the number of boneless cuts included). Generally, it is recommended to have about 3-4 cubic feet of freezer space for a Quarter share of Beef. A typical upright kitchen refrigerator has about 4 cubic feet of freezer space on top. If there was nothing in it like ice trays, frozen foods, ice cream etc. it should adequately hold a medium sized Quarter share of Beef. A good rule of thumb is 1.5 cubic foot of freezer space for every 40 pounds of packaged meat. Therefore, using this rule a Half (Side) of Beef would require about 6-8 cubic feet of freezer space, and a Whole Beef would require about 12-16 cubic feet of freezer space. Again, the required freezer space varies on the size (hanging weight) of the beef and the number and types of cuts you get so be conservative in your projected freezer space allotment these are only estimates.