Bringing better beef to local buyers

By Matt McIntosh 

Brian Hyland (2)With the welfare of his animals and customer demands in mind, Brian Hyland, a beef farmer from Essex Ontario, has built a business around selling quality, home-grown beef directly to the consumer.

Brian owns and operates Father Wants Beef, a farm and marketing business where he raises 40 beef cattle and red veal (slightly younger beef cattle that go to market at 700 to 800 pounds, or about 300 pounds below regular market weight). Though not a large farm, Brian has found that there is a demand for meat straight from the farm, and he prides himself on filing that demand from his on-site shop and cold storage facility.

“The majority of our meat is sold by pre-order and custom cut, but we do have some people that stop in for individual steaks,” says Brian. “Most are appointment sales; I can get phone calls at all times of the day.”

Brian Hyland and family are hosting this year's Breakfast on the Farm event.

Brian Hyland and family are hosting this year’s Breakfast on the Farm event.

The reason people call at all times of the day, and the reason why they keep coming back, he says, has to do with the superior quality of his product. To consistently achieve that quality, Brian raises his cattle on a diet of corn and soybean meal – two products that are both nutritious and plentiful in his area. With such a diet, he says, he can carefully balance the carbohydrates, minerals, fiber, proteins and vitamins that his cattle require, which in turn allows him to better manage his herd’s health. Making sure all of his meat is properly aged (21 days for an 1,100 pound carcass, for example) also adds to the quality sought after by his customers.

The cattle, he says, are purchased as calves from another local farmer, and processed by local butcher shops once they reach market weight; in between, they are cared for in group pens inside a well-ventilated, sunlight-filled barn originally designed for dairy cows – a business which Brian and his family exited in 2006. The barn, says Brian, is designed to be as comfortable as possible, which in turn helps keep his cattle healthy and happy.

“Maintaining proper nutrition and a comfortable, stress-free environment is critical,” says Brian. “With these facilities and with proper nutrition and no stress, I almost never have to call a vet.”

In addition to selling his beef directly from the farm, Brian also farms 600 acres of corn, wheat, soybeans and hay. The farm as a whole, though, is a continuation of a family farm first started by his parents in 1955, and something that Brian is very proud of.

“When consumers buy from a farmer, they choose their quality. They choose someone who takes care of the animals directly, someone who can guarantee a quality, stress-free animal that has really been taken care of properly,” says Brian.

“If you want great food, choose your farm and choose your farmer.”

This article is one in a series produced by Farm & Food Care Ontario. The stories highlight innovative initiatives in the areas of animal welfare and environmental stewardship in Ontario agriculture. To submit a profile idea, email info@farmfoodcare.org

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