WHITE DEER, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Over the past couple of years, there has been a trend of cattle producers moving from big meat processing companies to smaller locally owned processors.

Plant manager at Clint & Sons Further Processing Josh Cook said it started in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic.

The increase has been so immense, Clint & Sons had to expand.

“It has drastically increased our business, the overall number of cattle and hogs that we have done per 2020 and after 2020 has been drastically different. We have had to expand in several locations. We have expanded in this processing plant and then we have expanded in the further processing plant both to accommodate the influx of beef and pork that has come in,” said Cook.

Cook said local companies like Clint and Sons do more custom work.

“They call us to bring their animal in, we do most of ours dry-aged, so once they are slaughtered, they are held in a dry-aged cooler for 21 days, and after 21 days, they are cut to the customer’s exact specs, frozen and boxed up for the customers,” said Cook.

Compared to the bigger meat processing companies.

“Either the cattle are sold through a cattle auction, when they are young or some ranchers or farmers or put them in a feed yard and sell them after they have been fed out, but they are at the disposal of the market,” added Cook.

Spring Creek Texas Beef are producers that use Clint & Sons. Owner Rick Van Hersh said it’s a lot more work, but it’s worth it in the long run.

“It helps us diversify our operations as opposed to selling all of our calves to a third party. If we take a calf to Clint & Sons, our net profit is substantially higher. It’s more profit per head, so that’s been one advantage of that,” said Van Hersh.

Cook said this allows producers to better control prices instead of relying on the market.

“As the rancher goes, they stand to make a little bit more profit. If they can market them if they can do it right as well as increase their brand awareness and their ranch awareness,” adds Cook.

Cook said another driving factor in the move was the pandemic and people wanting products from the source.

“I think in 2020 when people were going to the grocery store, it was probably the first time in most people’s adult life that they went to the grocery store and weren’t able to buy certain things and meat was one of them. A lot of folks saw that and they wanted to go to the source, to whoever has the cattle and buy them directly, to know they have a freezer full of beef,” said Cook.

Cook added people also wanted to know where their meat was coming from and how the animal was raised.

Producers tell us with a locally owned processer, they can watch the process all the way through and be more involved in quality assurance.

“At the end of the day, what we are doing here is we want to provide good quality beef we possibly can, and I feel that there is nothing that says you are doing it right like repeat customers,” said Van Hersh.

Van Hersh added since they started selling their own meat, they have been focused on the genetics in their cattle, such as bulls that will put a bigger ribeye with more marbling and retaining heifers so the cow herd can be improved.