Dave Alden has always been a protein lover, but it was what he perceived as a lack of quality that started his foray into the meat business. Butchering really is a skill and Dave said he just wasn’t impressed with some of the work he had seen. “We bought a calf and raised it ourselves. We kept half and sold the other half and we noticed one heck of a difference in the taste of the meat. The next year we did three and the year after that six.”
Dave has been raising and selling beef since 2016 and he currently has half a dozen cows on the farm. Dave said he is likely done raising his own thanks to a spike in feed costs. “Once these six are done I think we are going to back off for a while until feed prices come down. The cost of corn right now is just ridiculous right now and it makes for expensive meat or a very small profit.” In addition to his own beef, 15th Line Meats outsources from three quality suppliers.
The Zorra Township business decided to raise chickens in 2018 and Dave said it has been interesting. “We have about 70 hens right now and we usually sell out of eggs every week. If we could do more, we would but without quota, we can’t do any more than 100. As far as meat chickens, that has been an adventure. We started putting the birds outside, starting with 75 of them, but we only had 11 go to market thanks to wildlife getting them. We raise them inside for now but are planning to get them outside again down the road.”
Dave added that the difference between the chicken he sells and what you find in the grocery store. “Take chicken breasts for example. Our average is between a pound and a pound and a half. They are grass-fed and turn out very juicy. There isn’t anything available in a grocery store that is anywhere close.”
In February of this year, Dave started selling a range of products from Stemmler’s, a well-known producer, and he said they have really taken off. “Their products are all great, and people love them. Their sausage and chicken products are big sellers. We have a couple come all the way from St. Thomas to buy the chicken sausage.”
Dave works full-time as a dairy farmer and his wife, Lorrie Mcilmoyle, works full-time at a factory. “We don’t have many times where we are sitting around doing nothing and we do have plans to expand within the next five years. I’m keeping the details to myself for now, but it is an interesting plan.”
For more information on 15th Line Meats or to make an order go to their website at https://15thlinemeats.ca/