Our first Shetland beefRSS feed

Posted: Monday 4 November, 2013

by Rosemary at 9:08am in Cattle 3 comments Comments closed

Our freezer is now stocked up with our first Shetland beef.

We bought Henry in October 2011 as a weaned calf for £460; he was calved in the April of that year. We picked him up in Aberdeen. Over the winter of 2011/12, he was outwintered with Breeze and Blizzard on hay and molassed mineral buckets.

During the summer of 2012, Henry grazed with Breeze and Blizzard and their calves, and the bull while he was in residence. He was housed over the winter of 2012/13 with the cows and calves, in various permutations, and fed mainly straw, some hay and molassed mineral buckets.

In spring 2013, Henry was turned out with George, Breeze’s 2012 born bullock, and Storm, our young bull, after we bought him in April 2013.

Henry soon before slaughterHenry the week before slaughter.

We took Henry to the abattoir in Dunblane on 26th September. He was 352kg deadweight at 28 months. The butcher said that the carcase was “a bit fat but a good traditional beef carcase”. Because of the good fat cover, the carcase could be hung for 28 days.

We picked up the beef on 1st November; we sold eight beef boxes of around 12.5kg each, at £12.50/kg. Each box had a mix of joints, steaks, stewing / braising cuts, mince, beef burgers and Lorne sausage. Cash income from the beef sales is, therefore, around £1250. We also have our own beef, including a magnificent three rib roast for the festive period. We calculate that we got about 158kg of “beef in the box”, worth around £1975.

Shetland Beef BoxShetland beef box.

The slaughter and butchery costs were £560. This includes slaughter, transport from abattoir to butcher, cutting, waste removal and making beef burgers and Lorne.

So, the value of the beef was £1975; less £560 for slaughter / butchery, £460 to buy the calf, mileage to pick him up, take him to slaughter, pick up the beef and deliver it to a few folk (say, 400 miles at 45p / mile) £180, leaving £775 to cover the costs of maintaining Henry for two years.

It’s difficult to unravel this because the hay and straw we buy feeds other cattle, ponies and sheep but I’m reasonably confident that we turned a profit on Henry.

Of course, it’s not a living – the discussion that we have a lot about smallholding – but the exercise has met with our objectives of providing us with prime beef, while producing  a cash income to cover our costs. But don’t even start to think about the capital we’ve invested in the property over the two years Henry was here. :-)

We hope that the folk that bought the beef enjoy it; we’ve already had some very positive comments. Some has gone to a local artisan pie company, so we hope that this might be the start of a good working relationship and that we’ll be doing our bit to promote the Shetland breed by getting it on folk’s plates, where it belongs.


Jean Quarterman

Monday 4 November, 2013 at 10:30am

I am very impressed, a stunning breed and produced some wonderful looking meat. Will you be keeping the breed again? I would say that you not only made a profit but you have managed to put 'free' food in the freezer and after all this is the main thing.


Monday 4 November, 2013 at 11:39am

Thanks, Jean. Yes, we breed Shetland cattle; we have two 2010 cows in calf and due in May, a 2012 heifer likewise (daughter of one of our cows); a 2013 heifer and bullock, 2012 bullock and a 2012 bull.

Love these cattle. And the beef :-)

mary knibbs

Monday 4 November, 2013 at 10:49pm

the price of butchering is a lot more than here in my Village. I paid £220 for killing, cutting and packing, I did`nt have burgers or sausage which would have been an extra cost. I do not know the live weight of my last boy but he was very small I got 174 kilo of meat from him which suprised me. The joint I had for Dinner this Evening was so tendered it was like cutting butter. i sell all the meat I produce and folk come back for more. I only have a 10 mile trip if the Aniaml is under 30 mths but an hours drive if itis as I have to go the other side of Banbury. Unfortunately I cannot get meat hung for 28 days as butchers are so busy

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