We raise our animals on our farm in the north end of Greene County in the small town of Bulls Gap, Tennessee, population 739. Our chickens and turkeys are processed on site, and our buyers pick up their birds from our freezers. That is what local agriculture is all about! Our lamb is processed at a local, USDA inspected butcher.
The real path to natural farming requires that a person know what unaltered nature is, so that he or she can instinctively understand what needs to be done – and what must not be done – to work in harmony with its processes.
— Masanobu Fukuoka.
Whole lamb, cut to your specifications: $7/lb hanging weight + processing fee Processing fee is usually $60 per animal.
Your lamb will be cut to your specifications, packaged, labeled, weighed, and frozen. We will provide you with a Cut Sheet. You fill out the Cut Sheet which will walk you through the options for your lamb, and we give this to the butcher.
Approximately how much do I pay for a whole lamb? How much lamb will I get?
Live weight is how much the lamb weighs when it is ready for butchering. Most of our lambs are going to weigh between 90-100 lbs when they are processed.
Hanging weight(also known as the carcass weight or dressed weight) is the weight of the animal after you remove the inedible parts (hide, hooves, head, innards, and some of the bones). Hanging weight is estimated at 54% of Live Weight. Average hanging weight for our lambs is about 50lbs.
Yield or Take Home Weight is how much meat you actually put into your freezer. Yield is estimated at 55-70% of Hanging Weight. That is a big range, but it really depends on what cuts you get. Some cuts of meat have more bone (like a bone-in roast or lamb chops), and some cuts have no bone (ground meat or kabob meat). We tell our customers to plan on about 60% of hanging weight.
For estimation then, our lambs live weight is about 95 lbs. Hanging weight will be 51.3 lbs. Cost will be 51.3 x $7/lb + $60 processing fee (what our butcher charges us). Total price for a whole lamb, with this example, will be $367.80.
Take home weight will be 28-35 lbs.
In our example, this translates to a price per pound of $10.51-$13.13. The higher price per pound would be for all ground or kabob meat… no bones. If you had cuts that have a lot of bones, then the price per pound would be lower.
Regardless of the cuts you order, you can choose to keep any organs (heart, kidney, liver) and bones that are not in the cuts. Grass-fed meat bones are fantastic for making bone broth!
How much freezer space will I need for my lamb?
Plan on approximately one cubic foot of freezer space for every 15-20 pounds of meat. The interior of a milk crate is slightly more than a cubic foot. For a lamb, you will need about 2 cubic feet of freezer space. A whole, processed lamb will likely fit in the freezer that comes with your refrigerator.
Chickens are inquisitive animals with a complex social hierarchy. Chickens need to chase bugs and scratch the earth. Chickens need to be outside… live like they were designed to live. Our chickens eat organic chicken feed to make sure they are getting all the nutrition they need, but they also eat as much fresh grass, insects, and worms as they desire. The feed we use is produced by New Country Organics in Waynesboro, Virginia (please see our other post on broiler chickens for more information about the feed that we use).
Chickens are omnivores. They eat fresh plants and any other bug or crawling thing that may cross their path. When chickens eat a wide variety of food, like they were designed to do, their eggs are significantly more nutrient dense than what you could ever find in a grocery store.
The results of this nutrient density are superior eggs. Our egg whites stand up… not sure how else to describe this. Poorer quality egg whites spread out thin over the frying pan, but our egg whites mostly stay tight next to the yolk. The yolk is a deep, orange-yellow and has a richer flavor, even in the Winter. Not everyone has as refined a palate to say that this egg has a superior taste to a store bought egg, although I think many do, especially with the yolk. This is best appreciated with poached or boiled eggs, as fried eggs’ flavor is blended with the oil or butter used for cooking. But we have had numerous families say that their children will request seconds and thirds of a breakfast of Bauernhof eggs when compared to store bought eggs when the children will barely want to finish their first serving… and the kids don’t know what eggs they are eating!
There is also a seasonality to eggs. Laying hens will decrease egg production in Winter. Also, with less fresh forage and insects, the yolks will be paler, although our eggs still have pretty bright yolks even in the Winter. Spring and Summer brings more eggs and deeper-colored yolks.
Please understand that the eggs you buy in the grocery store that are labelled “free range” or “cage free” are not anywhere close to what we are raising. These are unregulated terms, and so they are used deceptively to make you think you are getting something that you are not.
In the photos above, you can see the incredible difference between the modern chicken industry’s definition of “free range” and our definition. You can barely see the chickens in this photo, but let me explain what is happening here. Our laying chickens live in a mobile chicken coop which we move about once a week to fresh ground. The chickens are the little dots seen to the right of the red coop. Far to the left of this photo are our sheep. We also move our sheep around the farm, but we do so in portable electric fencing. The sheep are in the pasture first, and then the chickens follow. The chickens eat the flies and worms that may spread disease in the sheep manure. This allows us to avoid using de-wormers (harsh medications) in our sheep. The chicken manure heavily fertilizes the pasture plants allowing them to grow larger and healthier for when the sheep are brought back around to this pasture in a few months. This allows us to avoid synthetic fertilizers on our farm. This is an intentionally designed system we implement to promote holistic regeneration on the land.
The incredible eggs are just a by-product!
NOTE: We will occasionally have eggs from our other birds. Ducks, guineas, and even geese. These birds are seasonal layers, so let us know if you are interested in duck eggs, or the occasional goose or guinea eggs, and we will let you know when they are available.
A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.
— Greek proverb.
The Bauernhof Kitsteiner is the family farm of the Kitsteiner family.
Kitsteiner is a classic German surname. It is pronounced “KIT-stine-er” in Americanized German or “KIT–shtine-ur” in more proper German. Also, our oldest daughter was born in Germany when I was in the US Air Force. So we wanted to have a classic German farm name. The word bauernhof is German for homestead or farmhouse or small family farm. It is pronounced “BOW-urn-hoff”… BOW rhymes with “cow” and hoff rhymes with “off”.
This is how the Bauernhof Kitsteiner was named.
We were not raised on a farm. But our goal was to raise our own food in the most ideal way we could. So we bought a farm to do just this.
Some of the things we raise on the farm are very productive. We decided to raise a a bit more than we need, so we could sell this food in our community. This helps to offset our costs.
We are a homeschooling family. We are a multi-generational farmstead. We are Christians. We are environmentalists. We are permaculturists.
We are a host site for farm volunteers, and we have hosted over 30 individuals from over 10 countries from around the world.
In short, we are a family that is daily becoming more deeply connected to our community as we establish roots.
Our sheep are raised and finished on pasture. Sheep are herbivores, and they were never designed to eat large amounts of grains. They can actually die if given too much grain too fast (grain poisoning). Many lamb producers feed grains on a regular basis because the animals do like it and the animals grow faster with it. But that doesn’t mean it’s good for them in large, regular amounts. With that said, our sheep do get a very small amount of alfalfa pellets (alfalfa is not a grain), about a handful each, when they are moved from one pasture to the next. This little treat makes moving our animals an enjoyable and stress-free routine.
Our sheep are given free-choice, organic, kelp-based mineral and vitamin mix to provide minerals and trace minerals that may not be found in our pastures.
We raise Katahdin Hair Sheep. These sheep do not have wool which needs to be sheared. Instead they have a coat of hair that gets thick in the Winter and sheds in the Spring.
The meat from Katahdin Hair Sheep, especially when grass-fed and grass-finished, is relatively lean. I believe it is a combination of the breed and the grass-feeding that gives them a fantastic lamb flavor without too much gaminess that causes some people not to like lamb. I personally believe that grass-fed and grass-finished Katahdin lamb is some of the best lamb I have ever eaten. And I have personally eaten lamb around the world.
We raise our broiler chickens in Joel Salatin style “chicken tractors” as shown in the above photo. This allows us to move our chickens to fresh grass one to three times a day while protecting them from predators. We are experimenting with fully free-range pastured broilers, but we are not there yet.
Our chickens eat a number of food items each day. Commercial organic chicken feed, fresh grass, insects, worms, and other pasture creatures that chickens enjoy eating. The feed we use is produced by New Country Organics in Waynesboro, Virginia. It takes us 8 hours to go pick up this feed for our birds, but we feel strongly that the right feed is important for our poultry. The feed we use is Certified Organic, Soy-Free, and contains no GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Our feed contains Organic Kelp (a large species of seaweed) that contains over 70 different minerals. In addition, our feed also contains a number of fermentation products; these are beneficial bacteria that help the birds absorb and utilize all the vitamins and minerals in their diet. Here is the list of ingredients for the feed we use:
Despite the deceptive marketing of some poultry and egg producers, chickens and turkeys are not vegetarians; they are omnivores. They eat fresh grass, insects, worms, grubs, and any other bug or crawling thing that may cross their path. When chickens and turkeys eat a wide variety of food, like they were designed to do, and they eat food that is full of healthy proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, then their meat is significantly more nutrient dense than what you could ever find in a factory farm.
Older people will often remark how our chicken tastes how they remember it tasting when they grew up on a farm as a child. Not everyone has as refined a palate to say that this meat has a superior taste to a store bought chicken, although I think many do. If the meat is prepared in a curry or barbecue dish, it may be hard to differentiate, but almost everyone will remark how filling it is. There is a real reason for this. I believe a significant factor for the obesity epidemic in the U.S. is that our food is nutrient poor. Our bodies crave many nutrients, and so we end up taking in more calories to fill the nutrient deficit. We are nutrient deprived while being calorically overloaded. When our food is nutrient dense, our bodies don’t crave more calories, and we feel full sooner. Not a bad side effect for something that tastes so good!
We also think that animal welfare is not something we can ignore when it comes to butchering (aka “processing”) our animals. Humans are omnivores. We eat meat. There is no getting around the fact that an animal must die to when we choose to eat meat. I don’t think this is something we need to shy away from or try to talk our way around it. Our animals live an incredibly enjoyable life, and we strive to only let them have one bad moment in their lives. This obligation we have placed upon ourselves means that we decided to process our chickens on our farm. Legally, we are not allowed to process our sheep (or any other mammal) on our farm and then sell the meat. Fortunately, we are allowed to do this with poultry, and we are glad about this. We are able to verify ethical and humane treatment of our animals from day 3 of life (when we are able to get the chicks from the hatchery) until processing day. We believe that when we are intimately involved with the life, growth, and the death of an animal, we will treat the animals with greater respect, and we will develop a deeper appreciation of every meal we eat.