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Resources for those who wish to produce beef directly for people



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We've been raising grassfed beef for nearly 2 decades and have been certified organic for nearly 10 years. Starting with selling a few beeves a year to friends and neighbors, we now sell beef in several stores, and ship beef nationwide to internet customers. In our long journey, we did some things right, but we did many things wrong. We learned from our mistakes, but many of them cost us a lot of money!

We get phone calls and emails from people who are considering or actively trying to leave the commodity grind and move to relationship marketing and sustainable production methods. They've read about us, or ran across our website, and think we may be able to help.

We've assembled a list of resources to get you started.  Some of the resources are particular to grass fed beef production, but most are useful for anyone direct-marketing beef.  These resources are in keeping with our philosophy of small-scale, family-owned and family-operated farms and ranches producing a healthy beef for local sales.

General Resources (web)
General Resources (print)
Discussion and Email Lists


Listing organizations (maintain lists of producers for consumers to locate; some also provide certification)
Organizations promoting local food

Knowing meat
Beef cattle grading from South Dakota State

Business plans for direct marketing

USDA regulations
Organic regulations

HUSBANDRY (information on raising cattle)
Electric Fence
Animal Health
Reducing Stress
General Cattle Management
General Cattle Regulations

Check out our recipes and cooking directions, developed  specifically for
lean grass fed beef. 
Nutrition and Diets
Cuts of Beef
Great Recipe Links



General Resources (web)

Eat Wild
     Jo Robinson's clearinghouse site about grass fed meat and milk.  Jo maintains a list of producers by state (you can sign up for a nominal fee), monitors and abstracts interesting news and research, and provides a few articles that can be used in your marketing efforts.

Grassfed Educational Website
    Sponsored by California State University, Chico College of Agriculture and University of California Cooperative Extension, this website maintains a list of California producers, a summary of health benefits of grass fed beef, and a collection of recipes and links.

American Grassfed Association
    According to their website, AGA was "Organized to protect and promote true grassfed producers & grassfed products; as a cooperating multi species entity, that outreaches nationally through Communication, Education, Research and Marketing."  Producers can join the organization ($100) and be listed on their website.  The website (and the organization) is in its infancy--some pages have little information yet.  The AGA is, however, the only nationally organized producer group promoting grass fed products.

Sustainable Farming Connection
     This site was initially built by Craig Cramer, with the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.  He ceased maintaining it when the Rodale Institue launched it's New Farm site (below) in 2003.  As he puts it: "I've been tempted to pull the plug on the site, but it continues to get a lot of hits despite the dated material and link rot."  It does have quite a bit of useful info, and you can always search to try to find the info on a dead link.

The New Farm
     A site from the Rodale Institute.  Producer profiles.  Price tracking of organic products.  Unabashedly organic in bent, with tons of excellent information on direct marketing.

Grass Farmer
     Maintained by American Farmland Trust (an organization we recommend joining and supporting) and Cove Mt. Farm.  The site has some great information about the Cove Mt. project, as well as an extensive list of grazing links.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)
     Maintained by the USDA.  Grant program for sustainable ag, as well as reports on projects and some staff reports (see next).

Direct Marketing Resource Guide
     Online database of SARE articles related to direct marketing.  Includes a collection of articles on direct marketing livestock.

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
     Extensive site with articles, breaking news, producer profiles, resources.  Maintained by the USDA's Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA).

Missouri Alternatives Center
     This is an incredible resource!  Maintained by the University of Missouri.  Contains links to extension and other publications that can be easily accessed from an alphabetical topics list.   The Sustainable Small Farm Information Network has a searchable database of most of the same links.

Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
     "Promoting agriculture and food systems that build healthy land, people, communities and quality of life."  Resources, links, publications.

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
     "The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) was established in 1986 as a nonprofit and tax exempt research and education organization. Our mission is to create environmentally and economically sustainable communities and regions through sound agriculture and trade policy."  Many articles written by staff describing and commenting on agricultural news.

National Small Farm website
     "The Small Farm Program at the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture is committed to meeting the needs of the small farm community."

The North Central Initiative for Small Farm Profitability
     The site is the web presence of a "four-state, multi-institutional, farm-to-fork effort designed to improve the profitability and competitiveness of small and mid-size farms in the Midwest."  You can view information arranged by topics that include articles about summer calving, pasture beef, marketing locally and a directory of processing facilities in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin.   The article "One Pork Chop at a Time" has describes some of the challenges of selling direct to the consumer.

General Resources (print)

Acres USA
     "Acres U.S.A. is North America's oldest, largest magazine covering eco-agriculture."

Stockman Grass Farmer
    A monthly publication devoted entirely to the art and science of turning grass into cash flow. The Stockman Grass Farmer serves as an information network for grassland farmers sharing the latest in intensive grazing technology and pasture management.

Graze Magazine
     "A monthly publication serving graziers with production information on dairy, beef, sheep, hogs, and poultry. With articles from and about graziers, you'll get plenty of ideas from experienced grass and livestock managers."  The home page links to a  page of grazing links.

Farming Magazine
     "Celebrates the joys of farming well and living well on a small, ecologically-conscious scale. It explores the intricate bonds connecting people, land, and community and it offers a hopeful vision of the future of farming in America. The magazine is created in the spirit of stewardship for the earth and regard for its inhabitants."

Small Farmers Journal
      "Small Farmer's Journal is a distinctive international quarterly, famous for its fierce support of the independent family farm. Offering detailed, modern information on the use of animal-power for twenty-first century farming."

American Small Farm
     "American Small Farm is the largest national magazine that specializes exclusively in the interest and needs of the American Small Farmer. We use USDA's definition for a small farm. Our readers earn income from agriculture and usually have at least one full time off-farm income. Our articles are written to help you improve your farm business and lifestyle."

Growing For Market
      A newsletter for farmer's market selling.  Mostly for produce, herbs and cut flowers, but lots of good ideas for selling meat.  Download a sample.

Small Farm Today
     "The Original How-to Magazine of Alternative and Traditional Crops, Livestock, and Direct Marketing—Established 1984." 

Discussion and Email Lists

     Active list on management intensive or controlled grazing (plus many other off-topic topics!).  Opinionated and experienced members.  Lots of dairy.

     You can search archives and look at messages grouped by subject at the graze-l archives.

     Devoted to all forms of direct-market agriculture, not just livestock; a fairly lively list, but well-moderated.

grass fed beef farming
     The title says it all.



     Sponsored by The Defenders of Wildlife, the site is primarily an expose' of the negative aspects of agribusiness.  Contians a well-maintained up-to-date collection of pertinent news stories, links to other sustainable agriculture organizations, and a collection of articles promoting small family farming.  There is a large section describing the American Farm Bureau's association and promotion of large scale agriculture (note that we do not agree completely with their assessment).


Listing organizations
Sustainable Table
     Maintains a list of national directories (the relevant national ones are listed below on our page), and a list of state and regional directories (which we do not list here).  Note that your state directory might exist, but not be listed here, so check your department of ag site and state and regional organic and sustainable ag sites.

Eat Well Guide
     Database searchable by zip code.

Eat Wild
     Jo maintains a list of grass fed producers by state (you can sign up for a nominal fee).  We've had several patrons who found us on Eat Wild.

American Grassfed Association
    Producers can join the organization ($100) and be listed on their website in a database searchable by location and product.

USDA's Community Supported Agriculture Database
     The USDA's Alternative Farming Systems Information Center maintains a searchable database of CSA's.  If you plan to market using this approach you can be listed on their website.

Farmer's Market Online
     Currently with only a few listings; may not get much traffic (states 700-1200 hits daily in mid-2004).  Costs $100/year to list (2004), but can include picture and information (additional pictures and info at additional cost).

Local Harvest
     Local Harvest maintains a database of farms selling direct to consumers.  If you ship, you can use their store.  They collect the $$ for you (for a percentage), so you don't have to maintain an internet storefront or credit card accounts.

Growing For Market
     You can sign up to be part of their "farm tour."  While this site is geared toward herbs, produce and cut flowers, it contains many great ideas adaptable to those selling meat.

Organizations promoting local food

Slow Food
     "Recognizing that the enjoyment of wholesome food is essential to the pursuit of happiness, Slow Food U.S.A. is an educational organization dedicated to stewardship of the land and ecologically sound food production; to the revival of the kitchen and the table as centers of pleasure, culture, and community; to the invigoration and proliferation of regional, seasonal culinary traditions; and to living a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life."

Food Routes
     Another group promoting locally grown food.  Links to Local Harvest's farm locator.  "The FoodRoutes Network (FRN), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing strategic communications and evaluation tools and information to on-the-ground advocates who are working to build awareness of and support for sustainable farming and local food systems."

Renewing The Countryside
     "Showcases outstanding examples of people working to enhance their rural communities and regions by working on and promoting activities that increase the economic vitality, quality of life, and attractiveness of the countryside."

The Center For Food Safety
    "Provides leadership in legal, scientific, and grassroots efforts to address the increasing concerns about the impacts of our food production system on human health, animal welfare, and the environment."

The National Family Farm Council
     The NFFC (founded in 1986) represents family farm and rural groups in 30 states whose members' face the challenge of the deepening economic recession in rural communities caused primarily by low farm prices and the increasing corporate control of agriculture. 

Corporate Agribusiness Research Project
     CARP seeks to serve family farmers, farm workers and consumers in their struggles for economic and social justice. The site contains interesting articles, an extensive set of links to organizations concerned about family farms and local food.  I sent a request for the weekly email newsletter and did not get a response, so I'm not sure if the site is still active.

National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
     Dedicated to educating the public on the importance of a sustainable food and agriculture system that is economically viable, environmentally sound, socially just, and humane.  Site contains news about organic policy, a position paper on sustainable livestock production, 


Knowing meat

Beef cattle grading from South Dakota State
     Economically important traits for beef cattle evaluation are discussed: 1) live weight; 2) dressing percent; 3) muscling; 4) fat thickness; 5) yield grade; and 6) quality grade.  You can look at pictures of live animals and see their slaughter stats on SDS's site here and sketches for determining grade on a live animal here.

Quality and yield grade from University of Nebraska Extension 
     Good comprehensive article.  Nice chart showing the interaction of maturity, carcass quality and grade and a series of schematics showing marbling..

Beef quality and yield grades from Texas Agricultural Extension Service
     Several charts, no pictures, thorough article.

The Cooks Thesaurus
     This is a nice description of various names and qualities of each cut.  The first page shows where the major primals are located, each of which is clickable to a subpage that shows all the potential cuts from that primal and their cooking qualities.

Retail Beef Cuts
     This site lists all the retail beef cuts, each linked to a picture of the cut.

Beef cut charts
     PDF from and another PDF from the same site.

Selling Freezer Beef

Buying beef for the freezer
     A short Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet written for the consumer.  They describe a 25% loss from hanging weight to packed (bone in).  Our experience is that loss can be greater--find out from your packer before making promises to customers.


Business plan for direct marketing

Starting a Value-added Farm-Food Business
     Business start-up help from University of Wisconsin Extension

Building a Sustainable Business: A Guide to Developing a Business Plan for Farms and Rural Businesses
     SARE's business plan publication.  PDF can be downloaded for free (or a print version for $$).  The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture has the same guide available as a chapter by chapter download for those with slow connections.  It is also available on Amazon in hard copy format for purchase.

Entrepreneur Press
"Entrepreneur Press is the business book publishing division that provides information, inspiration and guidance for entrepreneurs looking to start and grow a business."  Their flagship series contains guides for starting a business in each state (How to Start a Business in **).  Their web site also lists a number of good books they've published that may be useful. 


Cost Studies
    UC Davis publishes budgets for a number of crops, including beef.


USDA regulations

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services
     Regulates meat sales, labels, transportation, storage.

Organic regulations

USDA Organic Regulations
    This link to full regulatory text.

Organic Consumers Association
    A watchdog organization monitoring organic standards.

The Food Alliance
     List of alternative eco-labels on this page (if you want to look at alternatives to organic).  Other links to similar organizations here as well.

Organic Alliance
     Promoting organic agriculture.

Organic Trade Association
     Membership-based business association for the organic industry in North America. OTA's mission is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade.

HUSBANDRY (information on raising cattle)


Oregon State's Forage Information System
     An extensive information database of forages, with descriptions of species and links to other information systems.  Not limited to the Pacific Northwest.

Online Grazing Course
     Originally developed by University of Minnesota; adapted and converted to an online (PDF) format by University of Maine.

Missouri Forage Systems Research Center
     Newsletters (including archives) and research reports on management-intensive grazing and forage resources from University of Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station.

Ye Old Forage Library Card Catalog
     Contains PDF versions of classic out of print forage information maintained by the West Virginia University Extension.  Part of a larger site maintained by WVU Forage-Livestock Systems

Forage Livestock Systems
     Cornell site.  Extensive information on forages and forage/livestock systems.  Geared for New York (New England), but useful for other northern regions.

Forage-Livestock Systems
     West Virginia University Extension site.  Includes a good discussion of setting goals and objectives and assessing farm resources; a collection of links to pertinent WVU extension publications, and a set of links to other forage sites, fact sheets and commercial sites.

Pasture Management & Grazing
     University of Wisconsin's forage resources site.  Includes information on species, systems, electric fencing and water systems.

Grasses and Legumes for Controlled Grazing in Michigan
     List and description of species suitable for Michigan and other northern states from Michigan State University.

Grazing Systems Planning Guide
     Large PDF file with information on planning a grazing system, paddock design, fertility management, weed control, and water system design from the University of Minnesota.

     Pennsylvania State University Forage page.

Purdue Pasture Management
     Pasture management, fencing systems, forages, watering systems from Purdue.

Poisonous Plants
     An extensive list of poisonous plants and their characteristics, as well as links to other poisonous plant databases.  Hosted by Cornell University.

     Exhaustive set of links to weed sites on the internet hosted by  Oregon State University.  Not limited to the Pacific Northwest. You probably won't find any other reputable sites that are not listed here.

USDA Agricultural Research Service
     The ARS conducts research in the Food Animal Production Program and the Rangeland, Pastureland and Forages Program.  From these links you can access the research by state, or look at a complete list of research in each program.

Managed Grazing Video Series
    Available from Iowa State for $30.

Electric Fence

Fencing and Grazing Extension Engineering Resources
    A collection of articles on electric fencing and controlled grazing from University of Kentucky.

Fencing systems
    University of Wisconsin's Extension resources on electric fencing.

Sustainable Ranching Research and Education Project Fencing Resources
    University of California Cooperative Extension.  Several articles on electric fence design, energizers, grounding, training stock to fence, and troubleshooting.  Many written by David Pratt.

Kencove Fencing
    We've dealt with Kencove for years, and have always been pleased with their pricing and service.  Their site has extensive information on fencing.

Baygard Electric Fence Products
     Introductory articles on construction and controlled grazing.

Stayfix Electric Fencing Manual
     Extensive manual; loads quickly in short sections; lots of illustrations.

Gallagher Power Fence Manual
     A comprehensive manual providing detailed information on fence design and construction along with helpful tips and advice.  Downloadable as a Adobe Acrobat PDF (3.08MB) or as a Windows file (much smaller).

Planning and Installing a Fence
     Introductory article on fencing from the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts.

Animal Health

Merk Veterinary Manual Online
     Exhaustive, authoratative; over 12,000 topics, lots of illustrations, searchable.

Cow Doc
     Causes of lameness and foot problems in cattle.

Cattle Today
     Extensive listing of cattle diseases and treatment

Oraganic Animal Health
    Article on nonconventional methods of promoting animal health.

Developing Organic Health Plans
    A UK publication.

Penn Dutch
     This site contains information about Dr Karreman, his practice, and copies of newsletters, which he sends to his clients.  You can also purchase his book here: "Treating Dairy Cows Naturally: Thoughts and Strategies"  268 pages, hard cover, 8 x 11.

Medicinal plants used in veterinary medicine
     Fascinating database of native and (mostly) non-native plants used to treat animal disease.  About 15 plants at present (9/2004), but plans for expansion.  Searchable by plant name.  Hosted by Cornell University.

Farm Vet
     Online catalog of veterinary products.

Reducing Stress

Handling Facilities Design
     This is the main website of Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University.  She has designed facilities that handle approximately half of the animals processed in the United States, and is internationally known.  She has autism, which she recognizes as a gift that allows her to think and see like the animals do, and thus design handling facilities that minimizes stress and fear in animals.  Her book "Thinking in Pictures" is fascinating.  Her web site contains plans for facilities and many articles.

General Cattle Management

Kansas State Livestock Library
     Many PDF reports to read.  Health, Calving, Nutrition.  A 1981 report titled "Growing Cattle on Grass."

Cow Calf Corner
    Oklahoma State's impressive, huge collection of articles on cow/calf management.  Major subject areas include replacement heifers, cow herd health, calving, reproduction, bull management, cold and drought strategies, nutrition, and general herd management.

4H Beef Production Manual
     Excellent resource for beginners, and even those who think they know a lot.  Covers breeds, nutrition, breeding and marketing.  Published in 1994.  Written by Clyde Lane, Jr. & James B. Neel of the University of Tennessee and hosted on Cornell's site.

Beef Publication from North Dakota State
     About 30 PDF reports to read about beef management.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Guides
     Extensive series of short (1-7 page) guides on all aspects of cattle management, including nutrition and feeding, disease treatment, marketing, and other subjects.

General Cattle Regulations

State brand laws from Pitchfork Rafter Cattle Company
    State brand laws for each state linking directly to the state code for each state.  Pitchfork maintains the applicable portion of code on their site (rather than linking off-site), and I'm not sure how often they check for updates, so you may want to read what's there and then go to that section of code at your state's website.
State livestock laws from Pitchfork Rafter Cattle Company
     This link takes you to their main page, where there is a livestock law locator by state.  Select your state name and you'll be linked to the applicable code for your state.  Read possible limitation above.

Check out our recipes and cooking directions, developed  specifically for lean grass fed beef.

Nutrition and Diets

Weston Price Foundation
     Dr. Weston Price was a researcher whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples convinced him that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.

     Dr. Joseph Mercola maintains an extensive website of health-related articles.  His focus is on preventative nutrition and healthy living.  He is a proponent of grass fed beef.

Great Recipe Links

The Cooks Thesaurus
     This is a nice description of various names and qualities of each cut.  The first page shows where the major primals are located, each of which is clickable to a subpage that shows all the potential cuts from that primal and their cooking qualities.

     I (Caryl) love this site.  The search is effective, and recipes usually are rated by users, with suggestions for modifications.

All Recipes online
     Nearly 30,000 online recipes contributed by individuals and rated by users.  This link takes you directly to the beef page.

National Beef Cookoff
     This site contains the recipes from the Cattleman's Beef Board's annual beef cookoff.  Some great recipes, many adaptable for leaner grass fed beef.  Your check-off dollars at work!

Beef, it's what's for dinner
     Another check-off sponsored site.  Recipes arranged by cut type.