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Working Ranch - November/December 2017

SELL THE BEEF Lockhart cattle fi nish on self-feed hay, even during summer, and fi nished animals slaughter at 18-30 months of age and 1,150-1,300 live weight. “The beef hang pretty consistently on the rail at about 625 pounds,” Lockhart says. “The end of July is often when I butcher a 28-month-old for a client one week and a 17-month-old the next. Customers do notice meat is smaller and less marbled.” Most customers want one type of meat cut, so Lockhart tries to group orders according to the animal. He will accept a steak contract if the ground beef from the animals providing that steak can be sold elsewhere. “The key is to have an outlet for grind,” Lockhart says, “and be willing to break even on it. Selling steaks at a premium offsets ground beef selling as a wash. The red meat business is low margin. I try to be vertically Chase Lockhart grapples with how to remain profi table and purchase more infrastructures, like this freezer trailer, to grow his beef business. integrated to get a little piece of the margin the whole way through.” Selling fresh beef allows Lockhart to respond to demand quickly. Because this causes him to decline customers, he recently began to keep frozen inventory. “I say no to a lot of people,” he regrets, “because they want 50 tenderloins next weekend for a wedding. They would pay 18 bucks a pound if I had it. But I’d need to butcher 25 head to get that many tenderloins. “For a long time I would tell people, ‘Yes, I’ll fi gure out how to do it.’ Then I would get off of the phone and swear. Now with steadier demand, I have fl exibility to say no. I also now make all deliveries on the same day so I’m not jumping out of the swather in the middle of haying to make a $200 delivery.” In the summer, Lockhart can deliver a whole beef to Jackson Whole Grocer & Cafe on Wednesday and it’s sold out by Saturday. His attempt to sell to his neighboring Smith’s grocer is stonewalled by corporate management. Lockhart admits small meat-suppliers do take extra effort. If the vacuum seal blows on a couple of meat packages, he might not be able to re-stock that meat cut immediately for the grocer. “I’m not the Sysco truck with 60 other packages sitting on the shelf,” he acknowledges. “That’s why I need to make quality worth the pain in the (butt).” KNOW YOUR MEAT Sitting on his truck tailgate, Lockhart says posh restaurants purchase 30 pounds of beef a month from him for tartare—a minced, raw meat DAVID STUBBS 84 I WORKING RANCH I NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Working Ranch - November/December 2017
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