We have an old cow (a cull cow) who’s losing weight and quite old. We bought a herd this spring and have been surprised by the advanced age of some of the cows. When animals aren’t doing super well after a luscious summer on fresh pasture, it doesn’t bode well for them for winter. Our vet said there wasn’t anything she could do for the animal and the best thing for us to do would be to ship her to auction. Animal auctions are part of the mainstream meat industry and we would have no way of knowing how she would be treated by whomever buys her.
We care deeply about our cattle, but can’t afford to feed an animal who will deteriorate during the season and cost a fair amount to have her body removed from the pastures should she pass.
Since she hasn’t spent the bulk of her life at our farm, we can’t guarantee that she is entirely ‘grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free’ as we do our yearlings, but she has been pasture fed since her arrival in May. Our 5+ year plan is to have a closed herd, with all animals born here. At that time, our older cattle would be turned into ground beef and we won’t have to deal with this issue of auctions and of how to recoup costs without sacrificing our ethics.
In the meantime though, I feel we have an unspoken agreement with the cattle here. They get all the fresh pasture they can eat, move about freely, have water aplenty always, their young with them for as long as it is feasible, and they are not shipped to feed lots (or to any place where we feel they won’t be treated with the same respect and care they receive here).
As a result, we would feel better about sending her to the abattoir and selling her meat, knowing that she lived well and that she won’t needlessly endure hardship. However, the cow is older and skinnier and we have no way of knowing the quality of the meat (i.e. steaks wouldn’t be great but ground beef should be alright). So we’re brainstorming.
We are wondering :
Would you be interested in buying sausages, salami or ground beef from this and other such animals? Or meat for pets?
Alternatively, do you have any other ideas of ways to transform and market this meat?