Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
6 Jan

How to Find a Cowpooling Source

I was going back over the MDA archives this week, thinking about what went right and what went wrong with past posts. There are always going to be regrets when looking at past work, whatever its nature. That’s just how these things work.

But this is the internets, not print, and I can quickly hop in and make changes to the past with just a few keystrokes. Or, I can write an honest appraisal of my previous transgressions and come up with a post of restitution. This is that post of restitution. Today, I’m admitting that my last post on cowpooling was a bit lean. It’s not that I trimmed the fat; it’s that the fat was never even there in the first place (hmm, old Cordain might agree). Consider this post a dollop of grass fed butter in the pan that is MDA’s cowpooling content, perhaps even after deglazing all the tasty bits with a hearty Zinfandel. Today, I’m going to tell you how to find a cowpooling source so you can buy grass fed beef in bulk directly from the supplier.

Cowpooling, in case you aren’t aware, describes the practice of banding together with other likeminded, carnivorous individuals to purchase an entire cow that is then slaughtered, butchered, and frozen for delivery or pickup. The cowpool-able cows are frequently grass-fed, local, and organic, and if you’ve got the freezer space, cowpooling is a great way to get quality meat for a fraction of what it’d cost in a place like Whole Foods. There’s really nothing quite like having a freezer full of hearts, organs, steaks, chops, roasts, shanks, bones, and tongues in your home. Whenever my freezer is stocked, I giggle uncontrollably whenever it’s time to pick a cut for dinner. It really is exciting.

Unfortunately, for most people, there aren’t any easy solutions to the cowpool source question. It’s becoming more and more widespread, but it remains a niche market, a small but vocal trend. There are a few concrete, well-run online communities that promote and organize cowpools between members, but they tend to serve distinct areas of the country. From what I can tell, the Bay Area Meat CSA (a Ning community) is the most active, and it isn’t even all that robust or vibrant. Still, if you happen to live in the California Bay Area, sign up and peruse your Group’s page to set up cowpools with other nearby members. Usually, an official liaison is selected, who then is tasked with sourcing an animal, contacting the ranch, and relaying information back to the other members. How well – or how often – this actually works remains a mystery. I happened upon the BAMCSA’s sister network, based in Southern California, and it was essentially a barren wasteland. There were a few half-hearted cowpooling prospects proposed, but no one seemed to commit to anything. I suppose it’s possible there were backroom dealings occurring via email.

There’s also Slow Food USA, an organization devoted to appreciating good, usually local food, including meat. Again, you run into the same problem as with the CSA Ning groups – there are just too many chapters with not enough active members. The link above directs you to find a chapter in your area, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

The only surefire way to find a good cowpooling source is through honest legwork. As always, Eat Wild remains the best directory for US pasture-based farms. Since you’re busy people, I’ve scouted ahead and made a quick list of some farms that seem to support bulk purchasing. There are plenty more, but this is a decent start. All you’ve got to do is get a group of people willing to buy in. Try family, friends, or even ask around on the MDA forums for help.

Alabama: Narrow Gap Farm of Brewton, AL only sells by the 1/2 or full cow, but you’ll have to call for pricing, as it varies by market. Native American Natural Grass-Fed Beef (no website or email – talk about old school), located in Delta, sells only entire cows. Try Dr. Robert E. Steele at (256)488-5661 if you can handle that much beef. At R&R Katahdin Ranch, you can buy whole lambs priced at $1.60 per pound of live weight; email Ron at

Alaska: Marilyn runs Faith Farms, located in Kodiak, and she only sells her whole lambs to the person who’s going to be eating it. Email her at

Arizona: Dudleyville’s Double Check Ranch offers shares of beef (minimum 10 lbs) to customers. The M Triangle and Black Ranches sell range fed pork by the live animal, and Southern Arizona Grass Fed Beef sells cows in quarters or wholes.

Arkansas: Email Joyce ( at Heifer Creek Farm if you’re interested in buying a side of grass-fed beef for $3 a pound, hanging weight. Just give four weeks advance notice. Email Sam ( at Hosanna Hills Farm if you want to buy pastured pork or beef by the half or quarter. Or if you’re interested in some range-fed Texas Longhorn, email Thayne ( at Old Dallas Ranch in Mena, AR.

California: Drake’s Bay Family Farm does quarters and halves. Holding Ranch delivers bulk orders of lamb and beef to Walnut Creek, CA. Email Jay ( at The Rockin’ M Ranch if you want to buy whole cows weighed live prior to shipping.

Colorado: B Bar S Ranch has a minimum order of quarter cows, and Edmundson Ranch in Walsenburg will deliver wholes and halves to the customer’s processor of choice within 100 miles for free. Southwestern Colorado’s Green Place Ranch offers a “considerable discount” when customers buy by the half or whole, and they’ll even match you up with other customers to share costs.

Connecticut: Email Savage Hill Cattle Co. ( for information on whole cows ($4.50 a pound).

Delaware: Looks like Carlton at C & J Farms may be your best bet (

Florida: Email Abundant Acres ( for information on group buying clubs. At Ashlin Farms (, they sell by the split side, the side, and the whole for about $6/pound. Cognito Farm sells whole or half pork and beef, as well as duck and chicken eggs, raw milk, and heritage turkey. Buy a whole pig from Florida Organic Pork for about $450; that’s for 120-140 lbs of pure meat.

Georgia: Ford Farm sells beef by the half and whole, and they’ll even deliver animals to processors near you. Order 90 pound whole lambs from Hidden Acres Natural Farm.

Hawaii: Buy some papayas, taro, and ‘awa along with your bulk beef from Pu’u O Hoku Ranch on Molokai.

Idaho: A.J. Kyle’s Meats (, Grass Roots Meats, and Pasture Proper all offer whole or split animals.

Illinois: Bauer Custom Meats offers whole and half lamb or beef year round, and Johnson Buffalo Farm sells bulk buffalo (

Indiana: C & D Family Farms specializes in whole or half hogs, Denny’s Grass Fed Beef in split or half cows (, and Hoosier Grassfed Beef offers quarter or half year round.

Iowa: Buy live whole lamb from the Anderson Farm at $1.30 per pound, or whole or half cows from the Galen Bontrager, a former Joel Salatin apprentice.

Kansas: The Jubilee Farm sells whole or half lambs ( The Lazy Heart D sells halves or half halves of bison ( Moore Ranch sells halves, split halves, and other assorted meats.

Kentucky: McCrory Farms sells whole sheep for $1 per pound (, and the Sanders Farm sells whole or half calves for $2.50 per pound of hanging weight (

Louisiana: Preorder whole, half, or split half beef at Brookshire Farm.

Maine: Alder Brook Pig Farm ( sells whole or half pigs, raised happily on pasture. Meadowsweet Farm delivers whole lambs and sides and quarters of beef to the Belfast and Orono Farmer’s Markets, May through December, and to Boston once each fall (

Maryland: Holterholm Farms sells pastured whole beef carcasses, as well as halves, splits, and quarters ( Mountain Valley Acres does whole pastured chickens for $14 each (around 5 pounds) and whole pigs  for $2.75 a pound (

Massachusetts: Crescent Moon Farm offers whole and half lambs. Fox Hill Farm ( offers 1/2 or whole beef packages custom cut to the customer’s specification.

Michigan: Joe’s Grass Fed Beef sells by the carcass at $2 a pound.

Minnesota: Earth-Be-Glad Farm will sell their beef in any quantity (, and George and Mary’s Best Darn Chickens ‘Round has more than just chickens; they’ve also got whole or half pigs for sale (

Mississippi: Amber Grassfed Beef sells their meat by the quarter, half, or whole.

Missouri: Cloverleaf Farm sells beeves for breeding or for eating (, while Ezra C. Miller sells whole pork, goat, and lamb ( just for eating.

Montana: A Land of Grass raises pastured beef and lamb and sells them by the quarter, half, or whole ( Own your own cow via My Own Beef’s program.

Nebraska: The Grain Place, Inc. offers pastured, grass-finished whole or half cows; just make sure to specify grass-finished ( L & L Jacobsen Farm offers whole, quarter, or half beef.

Nevada: Mills Ranch offers shares of cows (up to a whole animal) for around $5/lb; email them ( to set-up formal cowpools.

New Hampshire: Arbutus Hill Farm allows families and groups to buy whole lambs, pigs, or cows. Steve Normanton sells his beef in bulk. And Wayne LeClair of Rocky Meadow Farm has a large herd of heritage breed, solid-color Galloway cattle. You can reach him at 603-547-6464.

New Jersey: Buy a half or quarter cow share from Beechtree Farm, a half or whole lamb share from Burningheart Organic Farm (, or a half or whole hog from Simply Grazin’.

New Mexico: Buy whole, half, or quarter cows from Harold Koehn Grass-Fed Beef ( Pool together with friends and family to buy a whole cow for $5 per pound from JX Ranch.

New York: Arcadian Pastures welcomes orders of whole pork, beef, or lamb ( Bettinger Bluff Farm sells by the whole or half. Engelbert Farms offers organic beef, veal and pork by the whole or the half.

North Carolina: Pleasant Gap Farm prefers to sell by the half or the whole cow (, and Rainbow Meadow Farms sells their lamb, chicken, and pork by whole or half carcass.

North Dakota: Effertz EZ Natural Beef Ranch offers steers and young bulls by the half or quarter.

Ohio: Golden Hills Farms sells their grass fed beef by the half carcass. Green Grass Farms sells quarter and half beef and lamb for $4.99 and $5.50 per pound, respectively.

Oklahoma: Beaver Creek Farms sells beef by the half, quarter, or whole. Goose Island Farm sells pastured sides of beef and whole lambs. Sara’s Grassfed Beef sells sides and splits ( And Plum Rich Beef offers grass fed, grass finished beef at $5.95 a pound!

Oregon: Anandaloka sells quarters, halves, and sides of cows, but reservations are recommended ( The Crooked Gate Ranch offers the same, including wholes. Buy whole lambs from Harlow’s Hills West Coast.

Pennsylvania: Jeff sells whole lambs out of Alt Perlswalde Farm (, and Blackbird Farms sells whole or half hogs ( You can get whole or half carcasses from Coulter Farms, and you can buy whole emus (yes, emus) from Martin’s Twin Brook Farm. Order whole lambs from Bucky ( at Paradise Valley Organic Farm.

Rhode Island: Sanford Farm sells 80-90 pound quarter cows for around $4.50 per pound. Email Ted Sanford ( And The Watson Farm sells whole or half lambs (

South Carolina: Buy whole goats from Billy’s Boer Meat Goat Farm in Westminster, or email Billy or Cameron at Open Range Grassfed Beef for a whole, half, or split half cow (

South Dakota: Maveric Heritage Ranch Co. sells pork, lamb, and goat by the whole or half. Email Dwaine at Rosebud Beef Ranch for information on ordering whole grass fed cows (

Tennessee: Bradburn Farm sells by the whole or half cow and cuts it according to your specifications ( Rocky Glade Farm will deliver whole lambs and half cows directly to your nearest processor.

Texas: The Cross Creek Cattle Company charges $3.50 per pound of hanging carcass weight, and delivery to the processing plant is covered, but the actual processing is not. Darby Farms sells their cows by the whole, half or quarter.

Utah: Bar10 Beef does single steaks and whole cows; your choice. Pleasant Valley Beef sells whole, half, quarter, or split quarters to groups.

Vermont: Buy whole lamb from the Flack Family Farm, and they’ll cut it to your specifications. Kingdom Hill Farm accepts custom orders for quarter, half, and whole cows. Buy whole cows for $2.30 per pound (hanging weight) from Naylor Family Farm (

Virginia: Babes in the Wood has a buying club; join it and get access to bulk amounts. Border Springs Farm offers whole or half lambs, and Hollin Farms sells wholes or sides of yearling beef.

Washington: From Bradrick Family Farms, order whole lambs or quarter, half, and whole cows. Eagle Perch Ranch offers dry-aged, custom cut whole and half cows to customers, and Green Pastures Farms sells primitive, heritage sheep descended from medieval Scottish sheepy ancestors as whole freezer lambs.

West Virginia: Shagbark Mountain Cattle farms offer whole beef at $3/lb, half beef at $3.24/lb, and quarter beef at $3.75/lb. And they cut it how you want it (

Wisconsin: Anderson Farm sells both beef and hog by halves and wholes. Babb Creek Grassfed Red Angus beef is sold for about $2.89/lb hung, $3.46/lb finished ( Millstone Mountain Farm sells whole, half, and quarter cows for $3/lb cut and wrapped; vacuum packing is an extra 25 cents per pound. Why does Wisconsin have such great prices on grass fed beef?

Wyoming: Cameron Ranch offers whole carcasses of cow and lamb, and they even have a first time rancher program. Prairie Monarch Ranch sells buffalo by the whole, side, or quarter (

As you can see, there are many options out there, and I missed far more than I included. Check out EatWild for yourself and dig up even more choices. It’s still the single-best resource for pasture raised animal farms, along with maybe Local Harvest, but you’re going to have to make some calls and write some emails. Still, a little bit of effort is totally worth having a freezer full of delicious grass-fed meat for a fraction of the regular cost.

Have you ever cowpooled? What has been your experience? What are your sources and do they come recommended? Share your thoughts in the comment board!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I enjoy my grassfed beef from O X Ranch in Arizona. They sell in 1/4, 1/2 and whole steer sizes and the pricing is competitive. Best of all, I didn’t want to purchase beef I sampled and so I went to The Meat Shop in downtown Phoenix and got a cut of beef (a little higher priced – but worth it to just buy one cut) and then could evaluate it before I purchased the 1/4 steer.

    Lisa wrote on January 7th, 2010
  2. Maryland’s Eastern Shore…I finally looked into one that I drive by occasionally. Doesn’t sound too bad,, I’m looking to try their Sampler pack and jerky as a primer.

    Brian wrote on January 7th, 2010
  3. Sorry, but Hollin Farms in Virginia finish their cattle with corn for weeks before slaughter. One not only wants grass fed, but finished as well.

    Lin wrote on January 7th, 2010
  4. Thanks again Mark. Learned about cowpooling from you. Now if I can find someone who lives in and around Pasadena, CA, I’d love to get a conversation going. Plan on buying a deep freezer next month. Scouting around for a good one.

    Got hungry growing athletic boys to feed.

    neighborhood fit wrote on January 7th, 2010
  5. Connecticut residents – I just bought my second cow from Ryan Matson, who Mark listed in his post. Great beef, great price, honest and easy to work with guy. Highly recommended!

    Peter wrote on January 7th, 2010
  6. South Central PA….. free range eggs and natural beef. They do feed their cattle some grain, but it is grown on site without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. I’ve had email conversations with the owner discussing this.

    Grass fed Pork and free range chickens.. …their pork is delicious and I’ve got a broiler thawing out now for dinner tonight.

    Leeds wrote on January 7th, 2010
  7. Any recommendations for Washington, D.C.? I don’t have a car so it would have to be in DC or I’d have to be able to order it… thanks!

    Jessi wrote on January 7th, 2010
    • Try Cibola or EcoFriendly Farms. Both have grass finished products.

      Lin wrote on January 7th, 2010
  8. Mark,

    More from Ohio:

    Yoder Grass Fed Meats:
    8561 Bear Hollow Rd
    Apple Creek, OH 44606

    Whole Beef (450-600#) $2.40/lb plus processing

    Half (240-300#) $2.40/lb plus processing

    Front Quarter (125-175#) $2.30/lb plus processing

    Hind Quarter (125-175#) $2.65/lb plus processing

    Split Half (1/2 the cuts from both the front and hind quarters) $2.45/lb plus processing

    Also carries: Pork, Turkeys, Chickens, and Lamb. All pastured, never any hormones. Tell them Dan Merk sent you.

    Daniel Merk wrote on January 7th, 2010
  9. In Minnesota there are several grass-fed meat CSAs, Seward Co-op has a CSA fair in the spring if you are interested in a meat CSA. Otherwise, a number of the local grass fed meat farms will sell direct to consumers, I find it works well to ask at my local food co-op for names.

    Rachael wrote on January 7th, 2010
  10. Man, no suprise that the Bay has options and Hell-A doesn’t. Been in LA (Santa Monica) for 5 yrs now and am itching to make it back to the Bay. Went hiking in the hills of Palo Alto last weekend and it was all fresh air, friendly people and red woods. Came back to LA and it was traffic, smog and $12 park fees. /Rant

    Colin wrote on January 7th, 2010
  11. in Honolulu I have bought an eighth of a cow ($6/lb) plus offal ($3/lb) from a meat share arranged by slow foods oahu. the more people get in on this, the sooner I can get the next order!

    write to laurie carlson (laurie at honoluluweekly dot=com)

    jon w wrote on January 7th, 2010
  12. We are a small custom freezer beef and pork farm about about 30 minutes south of Buffalo NY.

    Jason wrote on January 9th, 2010
  13. We raise beef in South Dakota and love cowpooling so much, we have a plug for it on our website! As some other commenters mentioned, we also will do custom orders (whole heart, tenderloin, etc.).

    Shannon wrote on January 10th, 2010
  14. For those of us with apartments and small freezers, cowpooling isn’t really an option. I recommend checking out the grocery store Sprouts. They have grass fed ground beef & steaks on sale quite frequently so we just stock up our freezer then.

    Namasteak wrote on January 19th, 2010
  15. French Margaret wrote on January 24th, 2010
  16. New York-In the Hudson Valley-80 miles out of NYC-Brykill Farm has amazing grass fed beef by the quarter or side. Check us out

    susan wrote on January 30th, 2010
    Is a South SF Bay Area/Central CA Coast source. Haven’t tried them yet as I need a freezer and someone to share with…

    Stocky-CA-Gurl wrote on February 21st, 2010
    Local family raising grass fed beef.

    Mike wrote on April 26th, 2010
  19. Go to your county fair! I know, I know – those beef in the auction are “finished” with grain. But 4h project animals are treated with more love and care than any animal you could eat. The kids who raise them sometimes cry when they sell them for slaughter, but it’s a powerful lesson for all involved about humans and animals and food and respect and what it means to be a carnivore. You also get to talk to the people who grow food for a living, and if you feel strongly about the grain in the diet, you can find one who’ll custom grow you one however you want it. Pork, beef, chicken, duck, rabbit… it’s all there. Connect with the people who are connected with your food. No reason to have “Whole Paycheck” in the middle of it.

    Cristy wrote on May 22nd, 2010
  20. We raise grass fed beef and lamb in Southern California, we also have sister farms raising pastured pork and chicken. You can go USDA by the piece or custom by the whole animal, shares start at 1/8 beef(about 75lbs) and half lambs (about 30 lbs) our prices are based on fished weight not hanging weight and one of our sister farms does ship.

    Megan M. wrote on June 20th, 2010
  21. I just placed an order at
    Their prices are outstanding; seemed almost too good to be true! I got a couple ribeyes, 4lbs of skirt steak, a lb each of sausage and goat stew meat. With shipping it was about $75

    Julia wrote on June 29th, 2010
  22. Funny concept, but useful. Gonna look into sources here in Canada

    Jeff wrote on November 11th, 2010
  23. Raised in western KY near Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee & Missouri. Black Angus all natural grass fed beef. Supplied retailers in the Chicago market for years, now doing it on their own. Really cheap prices, very tender, well marbled & really good tasting…

    west kentucky wrote on December 26th, 2010
  24. Thanks for this post, I am fairly new to the whole paleo/primal thing and have been trying to source a farmer in michigan. Now all i need to do is find someone who sells grassfed butter.

    Rob wrote on February 22nd, 2011
  25. If any of you in Southern California are ever interested in getting some really high quality beef in Southern California we deliver our Dry Aged truly Grassfed Beef to Pasadena once a year in addition to pasture raised chickens. Here is a video tour of our farm

    And then here is the information on how to order if anyone is interested:
    Grassfed Beef & Pastured Chicken Order Forms

    Email me if you have any questions chris_kerston {at} chaffinfamilyorchards [dot] com

    Chris Kerston wrote on March 2nd, 2011
  26. Great thread – particular thanks to Kara for the UK options! I’m checking out the Riverford options now. Very impressed with their value!

    Brian Cormack Carr wrote on August 6th, 2011
  27. I am from UK, I buy my meat online from Allens of Mayfair, one of the best butcher in London.

    online butcher wrote on August 23rd, 2011
  28. In the Phoenix, AZ area try They deliver and you don’t have to buy a cow, or even a quarter. Just pick the cuts of grass fed beef you like. They also have organic chicken and all natural humanely raised pork. I have been buying from them for over a year and LOVE it!

    Terese wrote on September 23rd, 2011
    • I just saw that they are also shipping now all over. The rates are kind of brutal if you live out east, but if you live the Southwest, they are very reasonable.

      Stan wrote on October 25th, 2011
  29. Hi everyone,

    I work for our family’s ranch in Northern California, Magruder Ranch. We raise 100% grass-fed and finished beef, free of all chemical, antibiotics, raised on organic pastures, and fed only fresh, growing grasses and legumes.

    We sell quarters, halves, and wholes that can picked up at our Ranch in Mendocino County or at our butcher in Petaluma. Shoot me an email if interested,


    Ben Provan wrote on October 11th, 2011

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