This morning a student popped in with a question about the feasibility of experimenting with some different veal or beef production approaches. I told him that I can’t just say “Yes” or “No” in regard to the feasibility of something … without such a unique study of it (or at least an example case study). So, we’d like to run a little experiment in social media and hope that everyone involved in the “great food debate” can weigh-in with their thoughts and suggestions. We are merely asking for your input and suggestions, based on this information:
- The farm is a dairy of ~75 milking cows and, for now, let’s assume 30 bull calves are born on that farm every year.
- The farm is located in Eastern PA and many USDA, small-scale meat processors are available to contract with the farmer.
- The price being paid now for a bull dairy calf is low and the farmer would like to figure out a way to capture some more income from those calves.
Three different options come to mind immediately, but that doesn’t mean they’re the only ones. Any other alternatives are welcome in the comments section!
- Option 1: Sell bob veal calves directly to certain ethnic markets (I have heard of $1.00/lb live weight in Upstate New York Recently).
- Option 2: “Free-raised” veal calves raised on a combination of milk, hay, grain and fresh grass (depending on season) and contract with a restaurant or individual meat buyers.
- Option 3: Attempt to finish 30 Holstein steers and direct market freezer beef.
Among some of the other considerations pertinent to this particular farm:
- Equidistant from NYC and Philadelphia, approximately 70 miles.
- It is a “conventional” dairy and will not be changing anytime soon. Take that for what you will.
- 100% grazing for growing livestock is optional but has failed on this farm in the past (reasons unknown).
- The labor force is 1 farmer with 2 part-time hired hands. The time investment for marketing, etc., must to minimal.
- Most of the calves are born between August and December.
Any links to real examples of making this work?