How Much Should You Charge? Pricing Your Meat Cuts

Brian F. Moyer, Education Program Associate, Business and Community Vitality, Penn State University Extension
(Previously published online: PennState Extension – December 22, 2022)

Pricing meat for direct-to-consumer sales.

It doesn’t matter if you are selling halves, quarters, or single cuts, you need to know your cost of production first. What are your costs of raising that animal from day one until the day of slaughter? In any business endeavor, keeping good records is essential to knowing if you are going to be profitable or not. Once you know your cost of production, there are some tools you can use to help you determine what price you may want to attach to your fine, farm-fresh product.

Mike Debach of the Leona Meat Plant in Troy, Pennsylvania, has a nifty process you can use thatwill help you figure out your costs after processing so you can determine your retail price. For this example, understand that the cost of production will vary depending on Continue reading

Adjusting Feed Requirements for Cold Weather

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County

A few years ago, I used to smile a little when my wife complained that our house was too cold at 64°F. Now, I find myself sneaking over to the thermostat and bumping it up a couple of degrees.

It is easy for us to know when we are cold, but how do we know when livestock are cold? In some situations, it is easy to see, such as if they are hunched up and shivering. Often, though, it is hard to tell when they are cold. Their comfort range is not the same as ours.

Research has shown that below a certain point, our grazing animals will increase their metabolism to produce heat. This maintains body functions such as rumination and keeps the animal comfortable.

To meet the needs of increased Continue reading

In Defense of Animal Agriculture

Dr. Francis Fluharty, Professor and Head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at The University of Georgia and Ohio State University Professor Emeritus

When I read online media stories that blame animal agriculture for being a large part of the environmental problems we have, it troubles me that people are so far removed from agriculture and food production that they don’t realize how connected to nature farmers are. I’m thankful for animal agriculture, from the producers who raise the livestock, to the grain farmers who grow grains and other crops whose byproducts we feed to livestock and companion animals, to the companies who produce, and distribute byproducts, to the feed companies who formulate products so that animals receive the proper nutrition, to the companies and people involved in delivering high-quality animal-based products to consumers around the world. I have often considered speaking up in defense of animal agriculture, because globally protein-energy malnutrition is the largest cause of human deaths; and in 2020, the World Health Organization estimated that more than 149 million children under the age of five were too short for their age, and another 45 million were too thin for their height.  In fact, 45% of deaths of children under five years of age are attributed to undernutrition (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malnutrition).

The agricultural system in the United States is Continue reading

Thinking About Selling Home-based or Farm-raised Foods? See This!

The Ohio State University, Department of Extension

A recent USDA survey identified 7,107 farms in Ohio with direct food sales—the third highest state in the nation.  That might be why OSU’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program receives more legal inquiries about food sales than any other area of law.  “We are constantly surprised by the interest producers have in selling meat, produce, jams, baked goods, and similar foods directly to consumers and retailers,” said Peggy Kirk Hall, the program’s director.  To address the questions of those who want to directly market farm-raised and home-based food products to consumers, OSU Extension will host a webinar series this winter.

The “Starting a Food Business” webinar series will bring OSU’s expertise in food safety, law, product development, economics, and marketing together to help explain what a producer needs to know when planning to sell home-based and farm-raised foods.  Food businesses are challenging for many reasons, according to OSU Extension Educator Emily Marrison.

“We often see people who Continue reading

American Lamb Pricing Calculator

American Lamb Resource Center
(Previously published online: American Lamb Resource Center – Pricing Calculator)

Recently, I’ve had several conversations with lamb producers that are interested in adding value to their flock. As an example, to better connect them with their clientele, shepherds have investigated selling whole or half lamb carcasses or individual cuts. As this business venture continues to gain traction, I always encourage producers to investigate all marketing opportunities to ensure that they are getting the most out of their labors. The most common question I get when discussing this topic is: “How should I price my lamb”? Unfortunately, I can’t be the one to answer that as each operation is different in terms of overhead expenditures and operating costs. However, there is a tool available to help you in getting a fair price for your efforts. Thanks to the American Lamb Board, shepherds have a pricing calculator that can be used to set a fair market price for your meat products produced. This pricing tool also takes into consideration the live market value of your lamb to ensure that you added efforts of securing a harvest slot, storing meat, advertising, and etc. out weighs the value you would receive on the open market, thus allowing for added value of your end product.

For those interested in using this tool, please see the text provided below from the American Lamb Board. Question upon how to use this tool or how to interpret the results, let me know – I would be more than happy to help!

Pricing lamb – whether from simple or complex cutting instructions – can be a challenge. Tracking lamb produced over time at busy local lockers can also be a challenge. This Direct Marketing Lamb Business Management Tool (DMLBMT) is intended to help the direct marketer monitor productions and price product.

This DMLBMT is comprised of various components:

  • Yield Collection Template (which can also serve as an order sheet for your processor)

  • Yield Tracking Template

  • Cost/Margin/Markup Worksheet

  • Pricing/Cutout Calculator

The following will offer a chronological explanation of how to use the various components of this tool, which will require Mircosoft Excel. Downloads for both the Pricing Calculator Instructions and Pricing Calculator Excel fie can be found at https://www.lambresourcecenter.com/pricing-calculator.

Are You Ready? All Antibiotics will be Prescription-only in 2023

Dr. Sandy Stuttgen, DVM US-Madison Division of Extension, Taylor County
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: August 4, 2022)

The Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine’s plan for supporting veterinary antimicrobial stewardship will be fully implemented in 2023 when all remaining over-the-counter antibiotics are switched to prescription-only status.

The medically important antibiotics (used by humans and animals) becoming prescription-only include injectable tylosin, injectable and intramammary penicillin, injectable and oral tetracycline, sulfadimethoxine and sulfamethazine, and cephapirin and cephapirin benzathine intramammary tubes. In addition, the OTC status of the swine antibiotics lincomycin and gentamicin is switching to prescription-only.

Vaccines, dewormers, injectable and oral nutritional supplements, ionophores, pro/prebiotics and topical non-antibiotic treatments will not require veterinary prescription.

The Center for Veterinary Medicine evaluates the safety of drugs used in food-producing animals, the impact drug resides have on human intestinal microflora, and the development of human antimicrobial resistance. Drug residues in meat, milk, eggs and honey from treated animals expose bacteria to trace amounts that don’t kill them, but rather allow for the development of antibiotic resistance. Veterinarians are tasked to slow the rate of bacterial resistance by using antibiotics only when necessary to treat, control or prevent disease. Doing so preserves antibiotic efficacy for humans and animals. Continue reading

Grain and Livestock Producers: Dealing with Vomitoxin and Zearalenone

Yet again, reports from the 2022 harvest have indicated concerns with Vomitoxin and Zearalenone in grains harvested this fall. Some species of livestock are able to tolerate these toxins better than others. However, how do you know if you have a problem this year? Thankfully, our OSU Extension team from Delaware County reviews important considerations when addressing these concerns.

Known Bale Weights are Critical this Year

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 15, 2022)

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

As a hay industry, there are still a number of hay sales that occur “by the bale.” Yes, it’s easier, but if the sale is made without factoring in bale weight and moisture, there’s a good chance the buyer is paying either too much or not enough.

You’ve probably heard this issue reiterated many times over the years, but it’s a safe bet that you’ve never heard it when the price of hay is as high as current values.

For a large swath of the western U.S., drought was the dominating factor during the past growing season. Many livestock producers know they will be short on winter hay or will cut it pretty close. Accurate inventories will no doubt mean the difference between having enough hay or having hungry, low-performing [livestock].

My point is that known, accurate bale weights have Continue reading

The Many Faces of Forage Testing

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 6, 2022)

As you read through this piece provided by Mike Rankin, think to yourself, “where do small ruminant producers fall?”

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

If you grow or harvest forage, develop forage products, sell stuff to people who grow forage, educate people who grow forage, do research for people who grow forage, or just buy forage, then consider yourself a card-carrying member of the forage industry.

Wherever you fit into this unique band of brothers and sisters often helps form your opinions on a variety of forage topics and issues. Sometimes, those opinions differ. I could pick any number of topics to demonstrate this, but let’s focus on forage testing and analysis. First, some full disclosure on my part. Continue reading

Hay Cost is Not Always Indicative of Value

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: August 30, 2022)

Hay comes in a variety of types, shapes, and prices. It’s relatively easy to count bales and determine tonnage for inventory purposes. Similarly, it’s also not difficult to calculate winter feed needs based on livestock numbers and the duration of time that hay will be fed.

But is there more to it than that?

Heather Gessner, a livestock business management field specialist with South Dakota State University Extension, says the pertinent question to ask is “Do I have enough bales to create a balanced ration that meets the nutritional requirements of my [livestock] through each stage of production?”

To answer the livestock specialist’s question, forage samples need to be taken and analyzed for quality. This is then matched to livestock nutritional needs at their various stages of production.

“Because feed costs for Continue reading