Ordering FAQS

Butchering Questions (4)

Why Plastic Wrap and Not Butcher Paper?

At Greenleaf Meats they use a double sealed plastic wrap for wrapping the meat. The question has been raised about why plastic is used compared to butcher paper. Butcher paper is misleading on what it is. Butcher paper has two sides, one side is paper and the other side is a sprayed on plastic wax, the plastic wax is what is touching the meat, not the paper and most of the time there is plastic placed in between steaks or roasts for easy splitting of steaks.

The plastic used at Greenleaf Meats has 10x’s the freezer burn protection compared to butcher paper. Also, you can see the meat that you are pulling out of the freezer, which is nice when you are not familiar with the names of certain cuts, but also it allows you to see how the meat is doing. With butcher paper it is impossible to see if it freezer-burning until you unwrap it.

The main downside of the plastic wrap is every now and then the seal will break and cause a small area of the meat to start freezer burning. If I see one of those in my freezer I’ll just take it out and eat it first. You need to be careful when moving the frozen meat to make sure that the least amount of damage happens to the wrapping.

Also, when thawing you must put it on a plate or in a bowl to make sure your refrigerator doesn’t get covered in the thawing liquid.

Why Do You Use Greenleaf Meats?

Our family has been using Greenleaf Meats for our personal beef for years and have always been very pleased with their service, quality and pricing.

  • Service- Randy is the owner of Greenleaf Meats and has a wonderful crew of people working for him. His receptionist is extremely polite, helpful and can answer all your questions about butchering. Randy is also very happy to pick up the phone and answer any questions you might have for him directly.
  • Quality- Greenleaf packages their beef in a vacuum sealed wrap that keeps the beef from getting freezer burned and it’s very easy to see what type of cut you have because of the nice labeling the put on it.
  • Pricing- Greenleaf is very price competitive and charges the same or less than the other meat packing facilities in the area. They also are the only butcher that is willing to come out to our property for mobile butcher.

We have used almost every meat packing facility in the Treasure Valley area and Greenleaf has by far been the best to work with. It’s worth the little extra drive to get exceptional service.

Why Mobile Butcher?

Mobile butchering is when the butcher comes out to the ranch to harvest, gut, skin and hang the beeves.

Traditionally we have brought the cattle to the butcher ourselves which is a process of gathering the cattle, loading them in the trailer, hauling them to town (takes over an hour) and then dropping them in a small pen where they wait to be harvested. This whole process is very stressful on the cattle before they are harvested and can cause adrenaline to go through their bodies and lose weight, which both adversly effect the meat quality in the end.

Mobile butcher is very easy process on the cattle. The cattle are harvested right on site where they have been grazing, so there is no stress on the cattle. The fee for mobile butcher is slightly higher then if we bring the cattle to town, but almost everyone agrees that it makes for healthier animals and better tasting beef.

Why Does the Butcher Dry Age the Meat?

Dry aging is a very important step in the butchering process to ensure exceptional tasting beef. After the beef has been harvested (skinned and gutted) it is then hung in a cooler at the butcher for 2-3 weeks. This step is crucial because the enzymes in the beef start breaking down the connective tissues which makes exceptionally tender beef.

This process takes between 10-21 days, so large packing plants don’t have the time or space to leave meat hanging for so long. ALMOST NO BEEF AT THE SUPERMARKET IS DRY AGED. Dry aged beef is a specialty that you can only get if you are buying directly from the rancher or the butcher.

Beef Size and Space Questions (3)

How Much Beef Do I Get?

This is a very tricky question to answer since every beef will have a different hanging weight and depending on the cut order the amount of per pound meat you will get will fluctuate as well.

  • Premium Beef– These beeves hanging weight is typically between: 650 lbs – 775 lbs
    • After its done hanging for 2-3 weeks it’ll weigh approximately 20% less then the original hanging weight: 520 lbs – 620 lbs.
    • Then the butcher starts to cut the beef up. After he removes bones and some fat you are left with just the meat. For a whole beef it’s around 400-500 lbs of pure meat.
    • Remember: When you buy a “share” in a beef you are also receiving bones (good for making broth), organ meats (exceptionally good for your health) and tallow (if there’s extra).
  • Affordable Beef– These beeves hanging weight is typically between: 500 lbs – 600 lbs
    • After its done hanging for 2-3 weeks it’ll weigh approximately 20% less then the original hanging weight: 400 lbs – 480 lbs.
    • Then the butcher starts to cut the beef up. After he removes bones and some fat you are left with just the meat. For a whole beef it’s around 300-400 lbs of pure meat.
    • Remember: When you buy a “share” in a beef you are also receiving bones (good for making broth), organ meats (exceptionally good for your health) and tallow (if there’s extra).
  • Note: The example listed above was for a whole beef. If you buy a half, half the meat, you buy a quarter, then a quarter of what was listed above.
  • Please see this page for approximate types and amounts of cuts on a premium beef.

Why Do You Charge On the Hanging Weight?

There are three different ways a beef can be charged: live weight, hanging weight and per pound weight.

  • Live Weight– This is the weight of the cattle while they are still alive. However, this weight is not a good representation of how much meat is on the cow. This is because the cow could have just taken a large drink or eat and has extra weight added in their stomach. Once the stomach is removed during the harvesting process then their weight can drop considerably.
  • Per Pound Weight–  This is the weight of beef after all the processing is finished and is packaged beef. There are two reasons why we don’t go by this weight.
    • 1. If we were to start selling by the per pound weight we would be required by the USDA to have all our beef inspected and packaged with labels, there is only one butcher in the Treasure Valley that is USDA certified and we have not had good experiences with them in the past. Not to mention that increases the price of our beef almost by a $1 per pound because of the extra legwork.
    • 2. You are buying a “share” in a beef. This means there is more to a beef then just the meat itself. There is organs, bones and fat that are all extremely valuable to our bodies that are included in the hanging weight price.
  • Hanging Weight– When the beef comes in after being harvested the butcher immediately weighs the caracas and that is the hanging weight. This is our most accurate measurement because the butcher will not weigh the beef after this point. After its done dry aging the butcher will proceed to cut up the caracas and package it.

How Much Freezer Space Do I Need?

The basic sizes are as follows.

  • Whole beef: 16 cubic feet freezer space needed
  • Half beef: 8 cubic feet freezer space needed
  • Quarter beef: 4 cubic feet freezer space needed

Types of Meat and Cattle Questions (3)

What Is Premium Beef?

Our Premium Beef comes from cattle 3 years of age and younger. Since they are young in age their meat is very tender and mild. Premium beef produces the best steaks because their meat is tender at a younger age and has a tendency to get tougher after they have reached full maturity 4 years and older.

What is Family Affordable Beef?

Our Family Affordable Beef comes from cows 4 years of age and older. This meat comes from older cows that did not bear a calf and would typically be sold at the local sale yard. These cows are healthy and make wonderful ground beef and roasts. Since they are older their meat is a little bit tougher which is why we do not offer steaks in this option, but their tenderloin is still very tender and delicious, which is a bonus! We are able to offer this beef at an unbeatable price for grass finished beef which makes it a great option for families who want high quality grass finished beef but can’t budget for the premium beef. Great beef, great price.

What Breed of Cattle Do You Raise

At Cunningham Ranch we raise predominately Red Angus cattle. All our cattle are mixed with other breeds that are specially adapted for our high desert country.

Quality Assurance (4)

What Does “All Natural” Mean?

“All Natural” is an abused term that confuses many buyers. It simply means that the animal has never been given any antibiotics through injection. However, this does not include eaten antibiotics, which lots of cattle receive in feedlot situations.

On our ranch we do NOT give any antibiotics to our animals that end up being butchered.

Is Your Beef Organic?

This has a two part answer. Yes and no.

Yes, our practices are organic. We do NOT use pesticides on our property.

No. Organic labeling is extremely expensive and cumbersome loop to jump through to have a fancy label on our beef. We cannot call our meat “organic” because the USDA technically has rights on what is labeled organic and what is not. Also, we run our cattle on federal range 9 months of the year. The BLM sprays weeds on the federal land, which in turn would not allow us to consider our beef organic. However, don’t let this worry you. Our cattle run on 100,000 acres of rangeland. The weeds that the BLM spray for are very few and our cows do not eat the sprayed weeds.

We believe that our customers can come and be our quality control. Anyone is welcomed to come to our ranch and see our practices.

What’s the Difference Between USDA Certified and USDA Inspected?

I wish things didn’t have to be so complicated… Our beef is processed at a USDA Inspected facility. This means that the USDA comes around to the butcher shop at random times to make sure that the butcher is complying with health regulations when it comes to processing meats. All this means is that the butcher shop is clean and that the temperatures of all there cooling rooms are accurate.

USDA Certified is another step for those who wish to sell their beef commercially. Anyone who wants to sell their beef to a farmers market, grocery store, restaurant, etc. is required to be USDA Certified. This is where a USDA inspector is at the processing plant when the beef is killed and processed to witness the process and put a fancy little stamp on the meat showing it’s been inspected. Obviously there is a lot of problems with this system E coli infected meat still hits the supermarket shelves. There is only one processor in the Treasure Valley that is USDA Certified.

Healthy animals come from healthy practices. By feeding our cattle nothing but grass and allowing plenty of space to roam our cattle are extremely healthy and make extremely healthy beef. We also choose a trusted butcher that has clean and healthy practices in their butcher shop. The combination of a healthy beef and clean butcher practices makes for very safe and healthy beef for you and your family.

We choose to not be USDA certified because it’s an unnecessary added cost to the consumer and more of a headache for us. Once again, quality assurance is best controlled directly by those who are buying the beef, so come visit if you have questions about our practices!

Why You Should Buy Meat From Cunningham Pastured Meats

You have plenty of choices of where to buy your meat from, but buying directly from the ranch or farm gives you the real assurance that you know where you meat is coming from and how it is raised, not by misleading labels and confusing standards, but getting to know our family and practices.

If you not familiar buying bulk meat here is a good summary of all the advantages of buying bulk meat.

We sell meat differently at Cunningham Pastured Meats and the main reasons are simple. We want to provide high quality meat at a price you can afford. Any time we add another step to that process of getting the meat from our farm to you it causes a price increase.

Our method is simple. You buy meat directly from the ranch, you pay the butcher for his service and you pick up the meat when it is finished.

This is how we keep prices low, because we don’t have to transport, pickup, freeze and retail our meat. There is a reason why retail prices have a typical 30% markup on their food. It takes a lot of effort to get that food from the farm to your table.

By your participation in the process and buying meat in bulk you are saving a significant amount of money over retail prices, which is our goal.

This is what we ask of you:

  • Get to know us and our ranch: We raise our animals in a way that is humane and allows the animals to be the way God intended them to be, in wide open spaces and on feed that their bodies are designed to eat: cows and sheep: nothing but grass. Pig and chickens: pasture and non-gmo grains.
  • Buy bulk: The smallest portion of meat we sell is whole chickens, 20 lbs of lamb and 25 lbs of hamburger, if you cannot handle those size portions then it’s not a good fit to buy meat from us, but if you don’t mind having an extra freezer and the ability to go out to the freezer at any time and pick out your meat, then we’ll make a good team. Buying bulk is what allows us to have lower prices, it’s that simple.
  • Pick Up Your Meat: Another pivotal point in our business. If we were to start hauling meat around we would have to have a refrigerated truck and go to a different butcher. That just makes prices higher, so mark your calendar and take a drive to pick up your meat at the butcher and realize how much that saves you in the per pound price of your meat, by participating in the process.

If you decide that one of these steps doesn’t fit you, please consider it before you buy from Cunningham Pastured Meats. Over 200 customers have followed these steps and have been very happy with their meat purchases from us and the price savings.

Thank you again for your business with Cunningham Pastured Meats and remember we are always a phone call or an email away from any questions you might have.