Miscommunication is at the root of so many problems, including working successfully with meat processors. That’s why our friends at National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT/ATTRA) put together this fact sheet by Agriculture Specialist Linda Coffey. It covers things you can do to communicate better with your processor to solve the problems that so many producers mention having: scheduling, cutting, packaging or labeling errors, orders that aren’t ready on time, and carcass yield issues.
Some problems are solved more quickly than others. Scheduling issues can be resolved by finding out when the processor is busiest and either scheduling well in advance, or thinking about what you can do to finish animals at times when the processor’s business is slower. Processors want to be busy year-round, so talking to them about what they like and what you need can go a long way to getting everyone something that works better. The same goes for cutting, packaging and labeling. Communicating what you want and what the processor needs takes time. So call or visit when you both have time to review the cut sheet. Then keep a copy for yourself so that you can check your order when you pick it up. If there’s a mistake, work through it gracefully in consideration of the long-term relationship you both hope to have.
Even carcass yield issues can be resolved with better communication. The first step is the story you tell yourself and your customers about your expectations for yield. You can use this fact sheet to get a better idea of what the results might be. The next step might be to spend some time wearing a butcher smock as your processor works. You’ll learn the cuts, differences in carcass quality, and a little more about your friend the butcher.
A little talk can go a long way to getting you what you both really want!