Research Project Summary Information
Pastured Meats Cooperative(ST6258-1)
Farmers' profitability is declining while the energy spent producing and transporting food is increasing. Rotational grazing lowers energy inputs. Local sale of meat via a farmer's cooperative adds value on-farm, expands the market, and lowers transportation costs while providing a fresh, all-natural product.
Both the Meadow Raised Meats Initiative and the On-Farm Meat Processing Study have successfully demonstrated the viability of local farm ventures that are low input, not only in energy usage, but also capital investment. Every participating farmer increased farm size and sales revenues by at least 20% per year over the duration of the project. Cooperative sales for 2002 were $285,000, exceeding the original goal of $200,000. The customer base totals more than a dozen stores and fifty restaurants in New York State. In addition, direct sales from farms, (the most profitable kind), are thriving.
Energy input savings ranged from 20% to 89% for Meadow Raised production, compared to conventional feedlot confinement production methods, during the grazing months. Specifically, energy savings were: 89% for veal, 20% for beef, 62% for chicken, and 88% for lambs and goats. Energy savings for brood cows in support of veal production is shown; savings for beef raised on pasture for meat would be higher. Energy savings result from reduced barn lighting, manure management, and feed handling. Further energy savings are possible by calving in the summer. A model for an on-farm slaughtering facility for poultry and small ruminants identified the possibility of 46% in energy savings and a 47% increase in profits for farmers who are currently processing up to 20,000 poultry units at regional slaughtering facilities.
The project supported the creation of pasture-intensive, low energy input methods for raising the highest quality meat products; organized a legal agricultural cooperative with ten members, Meadow Raised Meats Cooperative Marketing Association; provided current and future farmers with educational materials and training opportunities; developed new products (Chorizo and Andouille smoked veal & pork sausage, nitrate-free veal bacon, and a beef bone soup stock) for pastured meat products, supported those markets with product tasting events and market development at retail locations and farmers' markets, and planned an energy efficient on-farm poultry slaughtering facility. The study found in all cases pasture intensive production was significantly more energy efficient than conventional confinement.
The project was covered in the magazine Country Folks, NYPA newsletter, Daily Star, and the Watershed Agricultural Council newsletter. The farmers in the cooperative attended several conferences, sponsored five farm tours, and conducted three all-day information sessions at member farms. The farmers meet quarterly and actively use an e-mail list server to communicate between meetings. The cooperative was incorporated in 2001 and continues to seek new members.
The Production/Marketing Manual and On-farm Slaughtering Manuals was distributed to farms expressing interest in pastured meat production and On-Farm Meat Processing.
250 Main Street, Suite 214
Oneonta, NY 13820
On-site Process Improvement
Controlled Environment Agriculture
NYSERDA Contact Information
R&D - Environment & Energy Res