Finding a meat processor can be challenging, even when searching online. Our list of meat processors only shows butchers who process livestock for customers. It excludes retail and wholesale meat distributors (businesses who sell meat, but don’t process for customers).
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How to Choose a Great Meat Processing Plant
It can be difficult to find a processing plant that fulfills your needs and also impresses you with high quality and great service. Meat processing is a delicate process that requires expertise and skill. To help you find a great meat processing plant, listed below are a few good qualities to look for.
3 Qualities of an Excellent Meat Processing Plant:
When using a meat processing plant there are 3 important qualities to look for:
- High-Quality Work
These qualities are very important and should be considered before choosing to do business with a processing plant.
Read below why these qualities make for an excellent meat processing plant…
1. High-Quality Work
Everyone expects great quality from their meat processing plant, but unfortunately not all processing plants are equal. You’ll want the job to be done with precision and expertise so you can achieve the best finished product.
Read online reviews for different processing plants in your area or ask someone who has worked with them before. If you hear that the quality of the product from a processing plant isn’t so great, you should consider looking for another plant.
You can also ask a manager at the plant about their safety procedures and how they ensure a great quality product.
Once you decide on a processing plant to use, closely examine the final product to determine if you want to work with them again.
Cleanliness is a great indicator of a great meat processing plant.
Not only should the facility be kept clean for health reasons, but it also gives you an idea of the quality of management at the plant.
Ask for a tour of the processing plant before bringing your animals.
Depending on your area, it could be difficult to find a processing plant that is able to quickly accept your animal(s). Some processing plants are backed up with customers.
Some plants may require you to join a waiting list, so plan ahead or find a meat processing plant that is ready to take your animals now.
Questions to Ask a Meat Processing Plant Before Doing Business
- Are you USDA or state inspected?
- How long are you booked into the future?
- How do you price your services?
- What are your cleaning procedures for the facility?
- How long have you been in business?
Also check out these frequently asked questions about meat processing:
- How much does it cost to process a cow?
- How much meat do you get from a 1,000 lb. cow?
- How much does it cost to butcher a pig?
- How much meat do you get from a 250 lb. pig?
- How can I legally sell meat?
- What is custom-exempt slaughter?
- How much does it cost to get deer processed?
How much does it cost to process a cow?
Before processing your beef, you’ll want to have an idea of how much it will cost to have it processed.
The truth is, the cost will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the weight of your animal and the cuts you order. Additionally, not all meat processors charge the same rates, therefore you’ll need to contact one directly for an accurate quote.
Regardless, you can roughly expect the cost of processing a cow to be $50-150 for slaughter and $0.95 per pound (hanging weight) for the base processing fee.
Additional “per pound” processing fees will be added for the cuts you order and other services you select, such as curing and smoking.
Check out these price lists from various meat processors to get a better idea of beef processing prices:
- Sunnyside Meats 2019 Processing Prices
- William’s Brothers Meat Market Processing Prices
- Beck’s Meat Processing Prices
Contact a meat processor near you to see prices in your area!
How much meat do you get from a 1,000 lb. cow?
Not all of your cow’s weight will end up in the finished product. This weight loss is a result of many factors, including draining of the blood and discarding of undesirable parts (such as the head and hooves). Even after discarding of these parts, the carcass will continue to lose moisture and decrease in weight.
In the end, your cow will yield roughly 43% of it’s original weight in retail cuts on average. For a 1,000 lb. animal, this is 430 lbs.
This yield percentage represents an average according to Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. The actual yield will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the breed, fat to muscle ratio, and age of the cow.
How much does it cost to butcher a pig?
The cost of butchering your pig will vary depending on many factors, such as the weight of your animal and the cuts you order. Prices also change depending on your location and the meat processor.
An example of the average cost of processing a pig is $50-80 for slaughter and $0.97 per pound (hanging weight) for the base processing fee.
This is just one example of pig processing costs. Pig processing can be priced using various methods. For example, some processors don’t charge a slaughter fee, but charge a higher “per pound” processing fee based off the hanging weight. Other butchers may also price their services based of the pig’s live weight.
The “per pound” processing fee will also increase depending on the cuts you select.
Check with a local meat processor to see how they price their pig processing or use these price lists as examples:
- Sunnyside Meats 2019 Processing Prices
- Pickrell Locker Processing Prices
- Allen Meat Processing Hog Order Form and Pricing
How much meat do you get from a 250 lb. pig?
Some parts of a pig are not used to make meat products, such as the blood and organs.
This means that your pig will not yield the same amount of meat as it’s weight. The carcass will also lose weight due to moisture loss and other factors.
A pig will yield roughly 57% of it’s original weight in retail cuts on average. For a 250 lb. pig, this is 142.5 lbs.
This yield percentage represents an average according to Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. The actual yield will vary depending on multiple factors, such as the breed, fat to muscle ratio, and age of the pig.
How Can I Legally Sell Meat?
Selling meat is not the same as selling other types of goods. Since meat is highly perishable and has other risks associated with it, it must be handled with proper care and proceedures.
To ensure safe handling, meat must be processed while under USDA inspection in order for the meat to be sold to the public.
Alternatively, an animal can be sold to various owners before processing. After processing, the meat belongs to the owners and is marked “Not for sale.” This reduces costs and means you won’t need to find a USDA-inspected processing plant.
Find a meat processor in your area today and ask about USDA-inspected processing!
What Is Custom-Exempt Processing?
Custom-exempt processing, commonly referred to as “custom processing,” is a practice used by many to process their meat.
A custom-exempt operation is not subject to continuous federal or state inspection. As a result, the processed meat is for personal use of the owner. It will be labled “Not for sale” and cannot be sold to the public.
Custom processing is most often used for processing wild game, but may also be used for livestock, such as cattle and pigs. The biggest downside for custom processing livestock is the inability to sell the meat afterwards, although there is a loophole.
Since custom processed meat is for personal use of the owner, you can sell the animal, in part or in whole, to new owners prior to processing. Once the animal is processed, the resulting meat will be split among the new owners.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Deer Processed?
After the hunt, you may be wondering how much it will cost to get your deer processed.
Although deer processing prices vary, it will typically cost between $50 and $100 for basic deer processing. Additional “per pound” charges may be added on top of that for specialty products, such as sausage, snack sticks, or jerky.
Check out these price lists from various meat processors to get a better idea of deer processing prices:
- MM Butcher Block and Deer Processing Prices
- Clay Deer Processing Prices
- Northern Trails Meats and Country Market Deer Processing Prices
Almost all meat processors on Ag Service Finder process wild game, such as deer. Find a meat processor near you today!