Veal Part 5 – Getting It On the Plates

Sales and Marketing The two questions I most often encounter are How do you figure out how to price the veal? How and who do you market to? Let's address question #1 first. Determining Price One of the best workshops I ever attended at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's annual Farming for the Future conference was given by Mike and Chick Debach, owners and operators of Leona Meat Plant.   In their presentation, they broke down the numbers associated with processing animals adding into the formulas those things I had previously never considered such as shrink (the amount of moisture a carcass loses when it hangs), cut-out (fat, connective tissue, bones) and transportation. Previously, I only worked with the cost of production, live weights and hanging (hot) weights. And then there was the BIG expense I also overlooked, especially as I entered the world of farmers markets---marketing. The first step is to know the production cost of the live animal and the live weight. This will give you the cost per pound to produce. For example: Purchased Calf  $50 Milk replacer     $150 Feed                     $25 If the calf is raised to 300 pounds, the formula to determine the production cost would be: Total Production Cost divided by Live Weight (50+150+25)/300 = $0.75 per pound Live Weight The next step is to determine the percentage of live versus hanging weight.  Over the years, I have found that calves

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5 thoughts on “Veal Part 5 – Getting It On the Plates

  1. I disagree that ear-tagging or notching is “mutilation.” I think is is unwise to tell your customers that these identification practices are inhumane. When we identify animals, we are better able to track their progress and treat them if needed.

    1. While I understand the need for identification on larger operations, my targeted audience of new & beginning farmers can easily track their livestock without the need of ear tags or ear notching. I’ve tagged and notched thousands of animals over the years and I don’t think it as “inhumane” as opposed to chaining or crating. In an effort to raise a premium product completely free of antibiotics, it’s critical to not subscribe to practices that can introduce means of infection. There are plenty of identification methods available that do not require an open wound of any kind on an animal including plastic neck chains with tags and Velcro leg bands.

  2. Thanks for the write up. I have not eaten veal for 25-30 years (maybe longer) because of the cruel treatment they face.

    Now I’m going to go hunting some real veal!!!

  3. Really appreciated the whole 5-part series. Quick question: does your 50-55% hanging weight, 165 lbs, equate to 165 lbs in packaged cuts? Surely you lose some to trim, but I didn’t see that factored in? If you need to average $7.29 on the hanging weight, but lose some of that after packaging, your average price on “retail” cuts needs to be higher, right?

    1. In my experience since I sell sausages, ground and bones, there is very little trim as most of it ends up in one package or another. Most trim on full-grown beef is in the form of fat. Veal calves, if fed and harvested correctly, will have very little trim to make a significant difference in the yield percentage. Good question, though. Thanks!

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