This turned out to be a rather long post, but I would really appreciate hearing from you experienced cow-share or bulk beef buyers!
I recently bought my first cow-share and was so excited. The farmers are the parents of a person on a local listserve, and I was happy to find a local, family-run, all grass-fed beef source in my community. The buying brochure said:
"From the hanging weight you pay for, shrinking, trimming and deboning occurs...[A]ll that trimming and cutting results in the final weights about 35-40% less than the hanging weight. The great thing is that for the price of really good hamburger, you are getting filet, steaks and roasts, plus organs and long bones if you want them."
So I paid $4/lb for 85.125 lbs of beef at hanging weight (1/8 of a steer). I also asked for long bones and organs at the time of the order. According to the ordering info above, I calculated that I would receive 51-55 lbs of meat, plus bones and organs. We are on a very tight food budget, and I figured I would get some variety in cuts of beef for the same price as the grass-fed ground beef we are usually limited to buying.
When I picked up the meat, the very nice and friendly farmer had it packed up into boxes for me. I asked about the bones and organs, and she said "Oh, I forgot to get those from the processor this time." I was disappointed, but didn't want to make a fuss so I took my boxes and went home. At home I unpacked the meat and found I had only 43 lbs of meat- a full 10 lbs less than I expected. I mailed the farmer asking if I had misunderstood the ordering information, and she replied that she had given me some higher-priced cuts and that "[m]any customers were especially appreciative of the filet, which goes for $25 per pound in the store, as a special treat in their bulk purchase." As if I were rude and ungrateful to expect the amount of meat I paid for. But she did give me a few more roasts (8 lbs total) and about 10 lbs of oxtail for soup after my email.
So, I thought that the main point of buying a cow share is that you pay one price for all parts of the cow, from filet mignon to bones and organs. And I really wanted those bones for stock! Was I wrong about how this works? Is it normal to divide the meat by retail value of the cuts instead of by weight? Is it normal that bones and organs are not available? Was I out of line to complain, or next time should I look for a different, more professionally-run farm? Thanks for any words of experience you can provide!