Hoof to Table.
It's What's for Dinner!
“Beef. It’s what’s for dinner” or so goes the advertising slogan for the American Beef Industry Council. If you’re in Campbellsburg, pork, lamb or goat may also be on the menu since you stopped at Trackside Butcher Shoppe on the way home. Owners Chris Wright and John Edwards offer custom meat processing services to livestock producers located in Henry and the surrounding counties. Trackside Butcher Shoppe opened late last year in the second week of deer season, initially processing only animals that hunters brought in, before moving on to process around 25 head of livestock a week in the 6,000 square foot facility. In a recent interview, Chris commented, “We’re glad to be up and going. Business is better than we expected. We’re staying booked up. The demand is definitely here.”
The national Farm to Table movement is no longer young, but it is far from slowing down, not only in Louisville, but certainly in the farmland area surrounding Jefferson County as well. According to the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association’s website, Kentucky has 38,000 cattle farms (2009) with the average herd size of 27 head and the majority being family-owned. The state is home to over 2.15 million cattle (2012) making it the fourteenth largest cattle state. Farmland covers 54% of Kentucky’s total acreage. A favorite component of my job with the Kentucky Small Business Development Center is that at least once a month, I make a circuit ride to work with our clients in service areas to the north and east of Louisville. This includes Oldham, Henry, Trimble, Carol, and Owen County. My colleague, Toni Sears, covers the remaining service areas that surround Jefferson County. For me, it is a gentle reminder that vibrant business communities are not always situated in urban areas. The story of Trackside Butcher Shoppe is a terrific example of this statement.
John and Chris have been friends since childhood, growing up in Trimble County, where they still reside. “We both grew up on farms,” Chris said. “We have been and still are producers ourselves. When we got older we had jobs selling freezer beef directly to the public. That’s where the interest in a slaughterhouse came from.”
Chris Wright,co-owner of Trackside Butcher Shoppe,
Ryan Quarles, KY Agriculture Commissioner,
John Edwards, co-owner of Trackside Butcher Shoppe
In October of 2013 a feasibility study was conducted by Kentucky Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. It revealed a great need for a meat processing facility in the Henry County area. Chris and John saw this as an opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming entrepreneurs and bringing this type of business to the local community. Now, three years later, Trackside Butcher Shoppe is a reality.The owners’ firsthand knowledge of this industry has helped them develop a customer-friendly business. Chris recently explained the process, but fair warning here, vegetarians may not wish to read the somewhat gory details.
“Producers pull around back, send their animals in the chute one at a time into the kill and slaughter room. After the dressing, the carcasses hang in the cooler to develop flavor and to get tender for a number of days. Then, the meat goes to the cutting room to be turned into individual cuts. A general rule of thumb on beef is 40 percent take home of live weight,” Chris noted. “It all depends on how the animal is cut up — the customer may request bone in or boneless on their steaks and roast. All that plays into it as well. With a 1,000-pound steer, the hide alone can weigh close to 100 pounds. Hogs are better — they’re 60 percent take home of that animal’s live weight. That’s a general rule of thumb but it does vary some on the structure of the animal and the genetics.”
Trackside Butcher Shoppe also boxes and packages the finished product for their customers in an effort to save them the trouble of bringing their own coolers to transport the meat home. Part of Trackside’s business model is to make it easy for producers to expand into marketing their own products in the USDA inspected retail area of the shop. Dutch Creek Farms, Sherwood Acres, and Ellegood Farms are a few of the local vendors represented. Locally produced chickens, eggs and honey are also offered for sale in the shop. It is both Chris and John’s intention is to build a business that is known as the premier source for locally-grown meat products from livestock that was humanely treated and raised without antibiotics or hormones. The business currently supports six full-time and four part-time employees. For hours of operation and directions to Trackside Butcher Shoppe visit www.tracksidebutchershoppe.com