Locker trade

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The locker trade is a business model consisting of raising animals (mainly cattle, lambs and pigs) to slaughter weight and selling them in wholes or halves to individuals. Typically the farmer drops the animal off at a custom-slaughter butcher shop and the customer picks up the meat, cut and packaged for the freezer.

Customers pay the meat processor separately for their work to slaughter, butcher and wrap and freeze the meat (in a freezer or "meat locker") for long term storage.

Alternatively the customer may choose to have them prepared for a special meal or event - often as a whole roasted animal.

Jacob Springs Farm produces locker pork, beef, lamb and occasionally goat in a unique way and markets many of these animals through the locker trade.

For examples of butchering fees and yields see the Arapahoe Meat Company website

Legal reasons

US law provides for individuals to circumvent USDA processing requirements and use local custom meat processors if the animals are being processed for consumption their owners. This law exists to protect the large corporations that market meat from competition from smaller, local producers, processors and markets. The locker trade allows customers to circumvent this law by purchasing the animals live, and then paying for them to be processed.


  • Farmers are able to market their products direct to customers in large convenient units (whole animals) without a lot of marketing or handling meat
  • individuals are able to gain access to local meats and bypass restrictive USDA meat processing laws
  • Middle-men are excluded


  • a whole or half animal may be too much meat for some customers
  • customers may need a chest freezer for the meat
  • customers may not have as much variety as they would like because of the large volume of a single animal
  • customers have to learn how to use all parts of the animal
  • meat may not be as fresh if it takes a long time for customers to consume it


The locker trade is a by-product of arcane and restrictive laws regulating meat processing. These laws primarily benefit large corporate meat marketing companies by excluding small producers from the marketplace. We know of no data showing that non-USDA processed meats are less safe and much anecdotal evidence exists that USDA slaughter is actually responsible for more food-borne illnesses.


Herd shares such as the Jacob Springs Farm Meat CSA provide a way for individuals to get more variety and smaller quantities through the same legal avenue that the locker trade provides.

Examples of yield

  • a mature Colorado Mutle(stabilized Mulefoot/Red Wattle cross) sow from Jacob Springs Farm with a hanging weight of 450 lbs yielded 243 packages of ground pork with an average weight of 1.12 lbs for a total of 272 lbs of meat. A yield of just over 60% meat to hanging weight.
  • two fat pigs from Jacob Springs with an average hanging weight of resulted in the following:
    • 4 bellies with an average weight of
    • 4 spare ribs with an average weight of
    • 8 fresh hams with an average weight of
    • 63 packages of 2 pork chops each (medium thickness) with an average weight of
    • 16 shoulder roasts with an average weight of
    • 7 packages of 2 steaks
    • 8 packages of country style spare ribs
    • packages of ground pork with an average weight of