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What does that mean?

Most folks have very little idea where their animal protein comes from, how it is raised, or how it interacts with the landscape. Second Star Ranch is not a unique company, or a novel idea; it is a practical solution and the right way to celebrate harvest and invest in your local ranchers and farmers. For people who want to provide healthy protein for their families and support a local rancher who works hard to care for smaller heards of animals, Second Star Ranch is a connector and educator.


We have a long-standing relationship with our partners at Gunderson Cattle Co. Built on four generations of raising cattle in the Water Valley area, Gunderson Cattle Co. takes pride in producing quality beef. The cattle raised are a British based herd consisting of Short Horn and Black Angus influenced cattle. Gunderson beef is grown on native grasses and finished on grain and hay ration.



Beautifully cut and trimmed roasts and steaks to your specifications

At Second Star Ranch we supply full sides of quality grass fed beef, specializing in bulk & group orders. It’s not uncommon for our customers to order together with family and friends to fill the freezer (we call it our “Meatpool”). Buying beef in bulk allows you to purchase up to a year’s worth of beef at one low price per pound. Our ranch-raised beef is processed at a local butcher shop where it is dry-aged for up to 21 days prior to processing. 



If you're new to the process of buying a whole or half cow, here are some answers to common questions.

Where is your beef from?

We work with local ranchers and run cattle in the Foothills of Watervalley. Gunderson Farms.

Is it Grass fed?

All our animals are pastured in the Foothills. They forage on perennial grasses, forbs, clover, flowers and native shrubs. Does that mean it’s Organic? As close as one can get without being a deer or an elk, but if you want those, you’ll need to work on your fitness, bow skills and learn to suffer a bit more.

Learn more about Alberta Range Plants. 

In winter months our cattle are fed hay and other bound grasses, this is also common when “finishing” an animal for meat. Higher protein diets allow the animal to convert their food into well marbled fatty meat. Be aware that pastured animals like this are much leaner than the corn finished super fatty meats you may see in a store. If you want foai gras, then you should know how it is made. This grazing activity is healthy for the grass and underbrush of the forests and pastures. Recycling of nutrients and keeping the fire hazards down is important in seasonal environments.

Do you use antibiotics?

When required. It is a part of keeping young animals healthy and without parasites. It is good husbandry for heard animals and only used when necessary. We like to keep baby animals alive.

How much does a side of beef cost?

The price for a side (half of an animal) of beef varies with the market and the seasons. Ranchers receive a price for animals of $X/lb ‘on the hoof’ in hundredweight (CWT- 100lbs). That is measured on a scale at an auction or estimated by tape weight if sold privately. This varies by size and animal sex or what is in demand, which is driven by feed price, season, supply and demand or simply fashion. Retail price is what you pay at the store in cellophane and varies greatly by cut and marketing. This is after aging and trimming. In the middle is a series of supply chains steps to get you a finished piece of meat.

Check out the Alberta Livestock Report and Statistics Canada

At Second Star we try and target a competitive price that is wholesale in nature but honours the work the rancher does and good work of the butcher. We respect the Animal and the Rancher. Butchers build their business around the processing of the animal, which includes slaughter, skinning, disposal, and is then charged for processing based on the hot wet hanging weight. The hot hanging weight is the weight of a side of beef, hanging in the butcher’s cooler after the head, feet, and organs have been removed, but before it’s been cooled and dry aged and cut into steaks and roasts. Hanging weights vary depending on the animal, but a side of beef ‘on the hook’ generally weighs ~250lbs, putting the cost of a side at roughly $_________. 

What are the typical cuts for a side of beef?

  • 9 NY Strip Steaks & 5 Filet Mignon OR 8 T-bone Steaks
  • 8 Rib Eye Steaks OR 2 Prime Rib Roast
  • 1 Flank Steak
  • 3 Sirloin Steaks OR 6 Club Steaks
  • 16 Packages of Round Steak OR 25-30 Packages of Cube Steaks
  • 8 Chuck Pot Roasts
  • 3 Arm Roasts
  • 2 Rump Roasts
  • 2 Pikes Peak Roasts
  • 7 Short Ribs
  • 6–8 Packages of Stew Meat
  • 65lbs of Ground Beef
  • 1 Brisket
  • 6 Packages of Soup Bones

How much freezer space do I need for a side of beef?

Our steers average 1,200lbs when we take them in for processing. You will receive an average of 200 – 220lbs of beef.

Why do I get less pounds than I pay for when I buy a whole or side of beef?

It is not uncommon for the buyer of a live animal to say, “The dressing percentage of my 1,200-pound steer was 62.5 percent but I only got 450 pounds of meat — where is the rest of the meat?” The calculation of dressing percentage is based on the hot carcass weight. The hot carcass weight includes bone, excess fat and moisture loss that will not be packed and wrapped for home consumption. The hot carcass weight is not the amount of meat that the consumer will put in his or her freezer.


What will I all get if I order a whole or half beef?

When you order a whole or half beef the total amount of beef you get will be called the cut weight. In this total amount of cut beef, typically 50% will be Ground Beef and the other 50% will be Steaks and Roasts. This percentage of ground beef into steaks and roasts will vary somewhat on your cutting instructions to the butcher. For example, if you would like all the tougher cuts of meat (rump roast, and round roast) ground into the ground beef you will have more then 50% of the cut weight in ground beef. If you are wondering what you will do with this much ground beef, you have some options: you may specify to the butcher that you would like more stewing beef, or you can get creative and make your own burgers with the extra ground beef as well.

When do I place my order?

We typically finish the grazing season in late October and then transition the cattle to the farm for colder winter days. Slaughter times vary, as does the window for butchering. You can order in the fall with an expectation of march pickup. Meat is intended to be ready for spring and summer BBQs with finishing cuts freezer ready to winter you over.

Where can I pick up my order?

Pickup locations will be established based on the location of those that order. Typically our pickup occur at the butcher or a central location. Logistics will be confirmed in an email update.

I'm ready to buy a side! How does it work?

You can reserve your side online through our online shop. If you’re reserving a side online, you’ll have the option of filling out cutting instructions for the butcher.  At the time of paying the deposit fee we will send you a follow-up .