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. For all of you in San Diego, CA is now shipping to San Diego. Check them out.

    Terese wrote on October 20th, 2011
  2. I organize a cow pool for residents in and around Gainesville, Florida and have for several years. My blog is and there is a yahoo group for the whole cooperative at

    Thank you,
    Andi Houston
    Gainesville, FL

    Andi Houston wrote on November 3rd, 2011
  3. Here is a family ranch who ship grass fed beef all over the USA. It’s the best beef I have ever tasted!!!

    Christiana wrote on December 27th, 2011
  4. Hey just wanted to share this with you guys. Here is an example of a video showcasing free range grass fed pigs running in the wild. it’s great that we have a farmer with enough confidence to show off his farm. It’s hard to find videos like these so enjoy. Pigs running free is truly a beautiful thing to see.

    Joe wrote on December 31st, 2011
    • This is awesome! Grass fed is the way to go!

      Terese wrote on February 8th, 2012
  5. Here’s a link to a U.K. supplier of meat in the South East:

    It also gives a list of local farmers markets where they have stalls and which days and times of the month they’ll be there.

    primal chick wrote on January 2nd, 2012
  6. Aquidneck Farms (Rhode Island) sells grass-fed beef. I just spoke with Jim, who was a knowledgeable and friendly dude.

    aLiLisa wrote on February 14th, 2012
  7. All-natural grass-fed Black Angus steak comes to you from the La Cense ranch in Montana.

    jerry @ Baylane Promotions wrote on April 21st, 2012
  8. Upstate New Yorkers should give Buckley Beef a try. Grass fed and finished beef, that is lean, healthy, and flavorful. Come taste the difference!

    Jessica wrote on April 30th, 2012
  9. If you guys are looking for a way to pool together to buy cows, check out my startup I’m launching at We’re aimed at solving this exact problem and looking to launch hopefully in August! You can follow us via our newsletter or joining our recently opened facebook and twitter pages at

    Wes wrote on July 5th, 2012
  10. For those who have purchased wholes/halves of meats…I was interested in making a bulk lamb and beef order, but wanted to know what cuts typically come in a 1/4 of beef? Also, how many pounds of take-home meat is the average for a 1/4 beef and a whole lamb?

    Thank you!

    Maggie wrote on July 15th, 2012
  11. It’s all too easy living here in New Zealand.

    Step 1. Walk into butchers shop or supermarket.
    Step 2. Buy beef

    Paul Charteris wrote on July 25th, 2012
  12. It’s been over 2 years that we belong to a Meat CSA in Sonoma County. Adam from Victorian Farmstead does chicken, rabbit, lamb, pork and beef. I know he works with everyone as far as how much they want, etc. He’s at a few farmers markets in the northbay (including Moraga) and has his own shop in Sebastopol that he sells from.

    Tracy Hall wrote on December 26th, 2012
  13. Also in SF Bay Area and Los Angeles

    Check out Full of Life Farm.

    Grass fed Beef and Lamb and non-GMO Pork delivered to your door.

    Their Oregon pastures of lush green grass make really tasty, high nutrition meat.

    Bernard wrote on December 29th, 2012
  14. I can not believe how easy you made this! EatWild was what I needed! Thanks!

    Jess Westphal wrote on January 15th, 2013
  15. In Illinois there is a search tool for finding local farmers. You can sort by type of food and distance from your zip code.

    Janet wrote on February 24th, 2013
  16. Please add Yolo Land & Cattle Co. to your list of grassfed beef producers in California. We sell individual butcher cuts of beef at Davis Farmer’s Market and bulk orders of quarter or half cow can be picked up at our ranch.

    Bruce wrote on August 2nd, 2013
  17. Hi! October is a push for our grass fed beef program. Join fellow “Cowpoolers” and visit our site for info on our beef or starting your own herd. We use primarily miniature Hereford and standard Hereford cattle for all the obvious reasons: the are great! Located in Deep East Texas on the Louisiana border at Toledo Bend Lake. If you are close, you don’t want to miss out on our great tasting natural beef!

    CJ Badger wrote on September 8th, 2013
  18. Hello,

    If anyone from/in Belgium reads this, Delhaize sells pastured pig. Full of flavor, one of the best meats I can get my hands on in here :-)

    Leila wrote on July 4th, 2014
  19. I am WAY late on posting, but I just saw this archived link. My husband and I have been buying a half beef for years, starting in 2010. We live out in the boonies, found a small local farmer (about 3 miles from my home) who raised the heritage breed we wanted, knocked on their door, asked if they were willing to sell their beef, and if purchasing a half-beef was possible.
    We chose to go with Pineywoods beef, as Woods cattle have been adapting to life on the inhospitable Gulf Coast since the Spaniards first dropped Criollo stock off on US soil. This means we get grass/brush-fed beef with largely zero inputs. Perhaps not certified organic, but certainly practically. I SEE how those cattle are raised and handled every time I drive past their pasture. The first year we got it, our beef was 1.80/# hanging weight, plus kill and processing fees, and as the other half-buyer usually doesn’t want the organ meats, bones, oxtail, etc…, I usually get all those to boot. I am still looking for a local pastured pork, and we raise our own goats and poultry, as well as hunt deer from the back pasture. If you see a neighbor with a herd (of beef, sheep, goats, pigs, whatever) it doesn’t hurt to ask, you will be supporting a small farmer directly, and if you learn what breeds are heritage or landrace, you will help support livestock breed diversity as well. A breed that has a job survives.

    If you cannot find a local farmer, or are shy about approaching them, contact area meat processing businesses. Good chance they can hook you up with a local farmer that produces grass-fed (or the owner might possibly raise them as well).

    Also, if you live near Hattiesburg, MS, Justin Pitts sells Gulf Coast heritage breed products at the farmers’ market there. (He doesn’t list his pork, but he also raises heritage pork.)

    D in Dixie wrote on July 27th, 2014
  20. in nyc, we have a meetup group in which we cowpool.

    Is there any way to add it to the listings?

    Michael wrote on August 3rd, 2014

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