Our Process

Byron Center Meats has been family owned and operated since its beginning in 1946. Our president, Steve Sytsma, and our business manager, Doug Sytsma, are the grandsons of Gerald and Gert Sytsma, who built the first “locker plant.” Steve and Doug’s father, Jim, is actively involved in the day to day operations as part owner and one of our lead meat cutters.

In 2009 Byron Center Meats built a 13,000 square foot addition to the building, including a state-of-the-art processing facility and retail store. Using modern equipment, we offer several options for vacuum sealing, labeling and further processing (specialty products) of your meat. We have a USDA inspector on site daily to ensure cleanliness and safety. We have also recently received our organic certification. BCM voluntarily conducts third party audits through Silliker. We are consistently rated with the highest scores possible.

Our experienced processing crew does the custom cutting for many home use orders each week.  They also work with nationally known chefs to provide cuts for their five star restaurants.

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Harvest Options

Below is a list of harvest options for both USDA inspected and Not For Sale options. During peak season, it may take three or more weeks to get your animals scheduled. Call as early as possible. Once your animals are scheduled with one of the harvesters below, you are automatically on Byron Center Meats’ processing schedule. We coordinate weekly deliveries of the animal carcasses. If you are interested in using someone else for harvesting, please call us first to verify that we will be able to accept your animal.

USDA Inspected

These animals will be inspected by a veterinarian before being harvested. These plants are inspected daily by the USDA and swab tests are made on the kill floor. Your product labels will receive a “legend” (USDA stamp or “bug”).  With a legend included, you will have more selling options. Your animals can be sold in portions ( halves, quarters, etc.) or by piece at farmers markets, restaurants or on-line.  These animals can also be donated to food pantries or used for public events.

Harvester  Phone Location Beef Pork Lamb Goat
DeVries Meats  616-837-6061 Coopersville 2014-10-22_2054
Fillmore Beef  616-396-6693 Holland 2014-10-22_2054
Pease Packing Corp  269-626-8891 Scotts  2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054
West Michigan Beef  616-669-1212 Hudsonville  2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054
Caledonia Packing*  616-891-8447 Caledonia  2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054

 

      *Also Does Custom Exempt / Not For Sale

 

 Not For Sale – Custom Exempt – Mobile

These animals must be sold (designated for customers’ individual home use) before being harvested.  They cannot be sold as pieces or donated.  The meat will be labeled as “Not for Sale.”  The advantage of on-the-farm kill means no live trucking and less stress on the animal.

Harvester Phone Location Beef Pork Lamb Goat
Albert Hiemstra 269-509-7023 Mobile / On Site 2014-10-22_2054  2014-10-22_2054  2014-10-22_2054  2014-10-22_2054
Keith DeYoung 616-893-2384 Mobile / On Site 2014-10-22_2054  2014-10-22_2054 2014-10-22_2054  2014-10-22_2054

 


 Pricing Your Animal

When pricing market animals, producers need to be aware of the costs in raising your animals (You do want to make a profit, right?). Other determining factors may be market prices, Byron Center Meats current prices, your clientele, your product, etc. Listed below are some links to information that can help in setting your price:


Typical Beef Yields

The average dressing of beef animals from live weight to carcass weight is 63 percent with a range of 61-66 percent. Beef heifers (62 percent) and dairy beef steers (56-61 percent) will typically be a little lower than that. There are five yield grades for beef carcasses: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Yield Grade 1 is the heaviest muscled and trimmest and Yield Grade 5 is the lightest muscled and fattest. Knowing the exact yield grade is not necessary when dealing with freezer beef but can help estimate the amount of beef one will receive from a carcass. Yields from dairy steers may be an additional 10 percent lower than from beef steers.

Example of Pounds of Beef to Expect

  • Live animal weight = 1,200 pounds *63 percent dressing percentage = 756 pound carcass
  • Carcass Yield Grade 3 (average muscling and fat cover) = 70 percent yield when obtaining mostly bone-in cuts and 50 percent yield with all boneless cuts.
  • 756 pound carcass * 70 percent ~ 529 pounds of packaged beef, mostly bone-in cuts and ground beef
  • 756 pound carcass * 50 percent ~ 378 pounds of packaged boneless, closely trimmed beef and ground beef

Source: Michigan State Extension – 2012: Jeannine P. Schweihofer “How Much to Expect When Buying Freezer Beef: Part One” Read the entire article


Pork Smoking Options

Regular Cure

Uses added nitrates/nitrites to cure the meat. Industry standard. Ham are smoked as one, semi-boneless, piece. It can then be left whole or cut into smaller roasts and ham steaks.

Natural Cure

Uses naturally occurring nitrates/nitrites in celery juice powder. USDA procedure has a narrower time tolerance for chilling of these products. Due to this procedure, hams will be broken down into three smaller, boneless pieces prior to smoking. They can still be made into ham steaks, but they will be smaller in size. Picnic hams must be cut in half prior to being smoked. **Available for an additional 30₵ per pound**


Customize Your Order

Labeling your Product

If you intend to sell your processed meat by the piece at places like a farmer’s market or a farm store, we have a number of options for the labeling of your product.

  1. We have our own Byron Center Meats labels that are used on much of our custom processing products. It will identify to your customers that the meat was processed at a USDA inspected facility.
  2. You also have the option of using a “Thank You” label that does not identify Byron Center Meats on it, but will still have the USDA note on the label. Your farm name will be printed on the label along with the identity and weight of the cut.
  3. Your final option would be to have your own custom labels made with your farm name, logo, etc. Depending on the quantity of beef you process, this may be an excellent way to go. The initial investment would be approximately $950 and would provide you with 60 rolls (36,000 labels). One beef processed equals about one half of a roll of labels. For more details on labels, feel free to contact Pam at Kent Butcher Supply (616-534-4050). Your label would be submitted to the USDA for approval before being used in production.

Pricing your Product

Another option that we offer is pricing of your product. If we are provided with a list of the various cuts and the price per pound of those cuts, we will include the price per pound and the package price on each package. This allows you to bring your product directly to market, saving yourself considerable time.

Building your brand and growing your business

Are you looking for ways to grow your business or “Build your Brand”? Studies show that the #1 thing consumers want to know is where their meat comes from. They want to know who the farmer is, how the animal was raised, and that they are supporting the local economy. They want to feel good about the meat “from the farm to fork.” You, as the producer, are the best promoter of your own product. You control the feed, monitor the health and raise the animal. Selling points to highlight include: your product being local, being fed a vegetarian diet, humanely handled, antibiotic free, growth hormone free, grass-fed, being a specific breed, etc. Pick the things that are true for you and get the word out. Are you willing to guarantee the quality? If so, tell them that.

Consider encouraging your customers or potential customers to visit your farm and have them pick out their own animal. Consider having potential customers talk with current customers for a good referral. Refer customers or potential customers to this website for downloadable processing guides that they can look at before they give their customized instructions. Tours of Byron Center Meats are available on request.