Last month, I posted an update about how my wife and I are raising a cow for beef. This is the final post in the series. Bambi is back from the butcher and sitting in our freezer right now. Generally, we start each post by checking Bambi’s growth. That’s not an issue any more, but here he is at fifteen months old on the way to the butcher:
And here’s a more recent picture:
Yes. He is delicious.
In my last post I promised a video tribute for Bambi. Those of you who came in on the end of this little experiment can catch up on all of Bambi’s growth with this video. And those of you who followed the whole time can remember him fondly – plus you’ll get to see pictures of the processed beef in our freezer. You should at least listen to the song if nothing else…
The Final Tally
All the numbers are in and I can tell you exactly what it took to raise and butcher Bambi (but this is specific to our situation – you’ll have to read the old posts for details – it’s probably less expensive if you’re in the business of raising steers). Here are the totals:
- Cost of Bambi – Free!
- Castration & Dehorning – $16.00
- Milk Replacer – $45.54
- Miscellaneous – $46.87
- Feed – $362.77
- Hay – $88.00
- Straw – $20.00
- Medicine – $5.00
- Boarding – $100.00
- Butchering Fee – $305.42
- Total Spent – $989.60
- Time – 102 hours
Here are the cuts we ordered, how many pounds we got for each cut, my estimate for what it would cost to buy each cut at the store, and the total value of each cut.
|Cut||Lbs.||Est. Retail Price||Total Value of Cut|
|Flat Iron Steaks||3.438||$3.99/lb||$13.72|
|Delmonico Steaks (Boneless Rib Eye Steaks)||12.375||$8.79/lb||$108.78|
|Top Round Roast||9.688||$2.99/lb||$28.97|
|Sirloin Tip Roast||3.969||$3.29/lb||$13.06|
|NY Strip Steaks||9.280||$8.79/lb||$81.57|
|6 oz. Patties (4/pack)||69.000||$2.69/lb||$185.61|
|Totals||250 lbs.||Wtd. Avg. $3.36/lb||$840.54|
I based the estimated retail price on a combination of data from the USDA, wholesale meat prices, and store prices. I may have overestimated on some items and underestimated on others. If you have suggestions for alternative prices, please let me know. I did the best I could with the information I had and tried to remain as accurate as possible.
The weighted average for the retail prices I came up with was $3.36/lb. Based on what it cost us (just money) to raise Bambi, we spent about $3.96/lb. So I guess if it’s worth $0.60/lb to you to know where your beef comes from then this isn’t too bad of a deal – especially for mostly grass-fed, hormone-free beef.
Interestingly enough, my cost to raise Bambi before considering butchering fees is similar to what I would have paid if I had bought the same amount of beef from a farmer. Bambi’s hanging weight was 406 pounds and my cost before butchering was $684.18 or about $1.69/lb for hanging weight. Farmers tend to charge around $1.65/lb for hanging weight in my area. (Hanging weight is the weight of the cow after it’s been initially skinned, gutted, and cleaned but before it is cut into smaller pieces – so there’s still a good bit of bone and fat there.)
But if you figure in the value of my time, things don’t look so good. If I valued my time just at minimum wage ($7.25/hr), that would increase my total cost to $1,729.10! And that would bring the average cost per pound to $6.92. That’s some expensive beef! To be honest though, I probably chose the most time-intensive methods for raising a cow for beef. This was especially true for the first few months of Bambi’s life. We bottle fed him for two whole months – a total of 60 hours of time. In contrast, most farmers take calves off the bottle in two weeks or less.
But as I’ve said many times before, this was never really an experiment to see how frugal it would be to raise your own beef. I did it more to get the experience and have something to share in common with people in my church and community. Raising Bambi was interesting and occasionally fun. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not in a hurry to raise another cow for beef any time soon. If I had wanted it to be a strictly frugal experiment, I would have gone about it a little differently.
I will say it’s kind of nice having such a huge selection of beef in our freezer. Unfortunately, it also makes meal planning a bit too easy. To finish all this beef in one year, we’d need to eat about 2/3 of a pound every day. That’s a lot of beef to split between two people each and every day of the year – especially when we’re used to not eating much meat. All I know is we’ll be having quite a few parties this summer because we’re not even close to being on schedule to eat all of this beef within a year.
I’d say I’m going to miss Bambi, but I’d be lying. Some of you will find that harsh, but I’m going to guess you never raised a cow for beef either – especially the way I did it. It’s not that I hate animals. I just knew Bambi’s purpose from the beginning and kept it in the front of my mind. Plus, he was a bit of a pain and that certainly didn’t help him build a place in my heart.
As far as I can tell, this is the last post I’ll have about Bambi and our experience of raising a cow for beef. If you’d like to read all the posts, here they are in order: (There is no month 1 post. I was tracking everything the whole time. I just never posted about it until month 2.)
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 2
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 3
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 4
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 5
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 6
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 7
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 8
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 9
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 10
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 11
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 12
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 13
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 14
- Raising a Cow for Beef: Month 15 – Goodbye, Bambi!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments. Thanks for following along!