Cow-pooling – save money on buying meat

According to a Mother Nature Network article groups of meat-eaters are banding together to buy their meat directly from the farm. And it’s all to do with the quest for better quality meat and saving money.

Buying direct from a farmer ensures that the group can check how the animal was raised. It’s not for the squeamish – you need to accept that the meat you eat has four legs and, in the case of beef, big brown eyes.

The term cow-pooling has only just become popular in the United States. It’s especially easy for people who live in rural communities – after-all, they have access to farmers that can sell them the livestock. And it’s no doubt easier to find someone to home-kill the animal. Plus, with wages lower in the country there may be more incentive to buy meat in this way. According to the article the savings run to 80% between the cow-pool cuts and the store-bought packs.

Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before the idea catches on here in New Zealand. As consumers continue to demand better quality meat and to know where their meat and produce comes from it’s not going to be long before farms who raise their livestock ethically will be pre-selling their meat to consumers.

For me I think it’s a great idea. The issue is how to connect with other people who want to share the cost, and who have the ability to store the meat.

Well, it seems there’s a solution to that too. Websites are cropping up that connect like-minded people with farmers and farms that want to operate at this local level. And it’s not restricted to cows – sheep and pigs are obviously good candidates for this treatment, basically any animal that is too big for one family to eat quickly enough before quality is compromised.

Any takers? I’m sure I could organise it.




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  2. doug

    Hi! is any farm in the wellington area doing the cow pooling, no offence to others, just want to support local businesses if possible. theres 2 or 3 of us who are contemplating this and would like to find out about the costs.

    Many thanks

  3. Hi Guys,

    Oxville Farms has built a MPI registered micro abattoir in Hikurangi, Northland.
    We are happy to slaughter for farmers in this region who can then sell directly to the public. Currently we have a sheep & goat chain and are in the process of building our cattle & pig chain. We also sell our lambs and goats that come from our own farm at farmers markets and you can order from us and have it delivered to your door. Contact us on 09 433 7939 or email

  4. Hi Tevita, we’d deliver 4 whole angus beef vacume packed into 500grm packs. We use our own angus steers and process them at our butchery after being killed at a maf site. There will be roughly 200 kgs of packed meat per animal as we like to kill heavier steers. We age the beef at our plant for roughly 21 days. We use halls trasnport and can deliver to the nearest depot either chilled or frozen. Check out our website,

  5. Tevita Ofa

    Hi there do you have any deal here in the South Island? I’m looking to buy 4 whole beast can you please help? Or can someone offer to send it down South for me please??

    1. Farm Fresh Ditributors Ltd

      Hi Tevita,
      How did you go on about your request for 4 whole beasts?
      I can offer you 100% Black Angus grass fed from Ashburton if you require.

    1. Hi Roseanne

      We would be happy to help you with your meat needs – we offer drug free lamb and beef off our property (or partner properties) in North Canterbury. We supply meat direct to the consumer and restaurants. My husband is a Master Butcher (he has been in the industry for over 35 years) he oversees the growing of the animals, we have it slaughtered at a MAF registered establishment and then it is brought back to our processing plant for processing (as per your requirements) – it is then vacuum packed, labelled, deep chilled and couriered out to you. We are a small boutique meat provider with extremely high cleanliness standards and top quality meat.

      Please contact us if you would like any further information.
      or check us out on Facebook – Bycroft Rural

      Jackie & Chris Carthy
      Bycroft Rural Ltd / Bycroft Artisan Meats
      0274 887 401

      1. Спасибо большое! держусь уже 11 дней для меня это успех буду и дальше ѐ‚Â´ÃÂµÃ‘€Ð¶Á¸Ð²Ð°ÑÂÃь себя надеюсь по лучится

  6. Michael Souris

    Be aware of laws regarding sale of homekill/ non-owned meat animals.
    It’s pretty much the same as per fish & game- a no-no: you’re supposed to rear the animals for a minimum of 28 days yourself if it’s destined for your table, unless it’s factory processed.

    Not disapproving, as our neighbour’s beef is fantastic (and of course it’s freely given at a meal at his place, not bought, nor in return for services or barter in line with the laws of the land, your honour).

    Be wary of leaving your contact details out there whilst trying to do something which could be seen to be illegal….

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    1. Hi Tevita,
      We sell your own lambs and Angus beef direct. Our lamb is priced at $12/kg and our Angus Beef is at $9.50 (bone in weight). We deliver free in the lower North Island and come to Auckland every 3-4 months, Actually up there this Friday. Check out our website and feel free to call if you have any questions. If space is an issue we can deliver a 1/4 every four months instead of whole beast.

      1. Michelle

        Hi Steve
        When are you making a trip up to Auckland again? We’d be interested in a whole cow and a whole lamb. We may also be interested in a hoggett (sp?) as well. Could you please advise price?

        How old would the cow be when butchered? We would prefer 2-year old.

        Are you a butcher or would you deliver these in quarter sections (or whatever) and we’d have to sort a butcher ourselves?

  7. Nathan Brisco

    We will provide you with a different range of meat ranging from a quarter carcass to a whole carcass. You have a choice to pick your meat up or to have it delivered directly to your door. New Zealand provides the best quality meat to the world and all New Zealanders should be able to enjoy this quality at a great price. For further enquiries contact us at

  8. Mike

    Hi All,

    I think I’ve finally found a suitable premise to start up a homekill / Cow Pooling business to offer all NZer’s savings on their meat purchases. I am in the Wairarapa. I can purchase 2 year old beef breed steers and heifers direct from local farmers that I know. Commercial farmers try to grow their animals at industry growth rates which mean the animals have grown with minimal stress. I then send the animal to an authorised slaughter house where a MAF inspector checks all animals. This enables people to pay/charge for animals they haven’t owned/fed for 28 days etc. People with their own animals on lifestyle blocks can have them killed on their property by an experienced slaughter person and sent to a homekill business for processing. The main challenge for bulk meat buying is you need a big freezer and get a bigger bill than buying as you need. The bonus is that you will end up with an overall cost per kg around the cost of retail mince/kg price. Plus chilled or frozen freight costs.
    We all know the starting retail price per kg in supermarkets is around $15/kg for mince etc. You will save hundreds of dollars buying in bulk compared to the equivalent full retail pricing of same cuts. The most important aspect of getting tender flavoured meat is to hang/age the carcass for a week minimum before processing. Then follow the great recipes on Meateaters website. One of the main problems with supermarket meat is the lack of support and help to get the best from your meat purchase, and generally the meat is only a few days old since slaughter.

    The basic concept for a residential person in Auckland/Wellington/Tauranga:

    2 year old Beef animal purchased
    Transport to and from MAF approved slaughter house.
    Processing/Packaging costs.
    Chilled/Frozen delivery of approx 200-250kgs of packaged meat/sausages/patties etc

    I can split up the meat into individual cow pooling people’s preferred packs and send out, after they have all paid their own bills.

    Please email me with your feedback and ideas that would suit you to purchase in this manner.



    1. Stirling

      I am interested in a whole beast, but will not need it till last week in Feb 2014. What are the costs. May also need whole pork & mutton.
      We will need all the meat at that Feb date.

      1. Bronwyn Gale

        I have a farm which is organic although not certified. Animals breed with love and blessed for their life. Young and mature animals. Can’t bear to put them on the truck, want to kill them on sight and sell like that. Let me know if interested.

        1. Yvette Sanders

          Hi Bronwyn,

          I am interested in more information about your farm and animals. Please send me more information if you are still offering this ( Thanks.

        2. Thomas Burton

          Hi Bronwyn,

          I am also interested in organic farm kill.
          I’m based in Wellington, and interested in potentially half a cow at this stage.
          Happy to be put onto someone else if it doesn’t work geographically too.
          Please email me burtonville(at)gmail(dot)com

    2. kirby

      Hi Mike, I was wondering how your business is going and if u have a website i could look at? . I am in wellington and looking at getting my hands on half a beast and maybe a lamb and half a pig.. could you help me with this and give me a estimate of cost 🙂 thanks

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  9. Hi all,

    I also saw the Sunday program on cow pooling. I can probably help as I’m a qualified meat retailer(shop butcher), I farm, I’ve had a homekill business in the South Island, I was selling meat packaging to the meat plants around NZ, and I have contacts for you to purchase a suitable animal.
    I am wanting to set up a business service to provide the quality and meat quantity, cut to each owner’s/purchaser’s requirements, and arrange delivery.

    From my experience as long as you get the cattle, sheep, pig or goat killed at a MAF approved site, you can buy the animal off the farmer for your consumption and money changing hands.

    a)Suitable animal = To give you the best chance of ending up with ‘tender’ frying/grilling cuts, it is important that the animal has been grown at good industry growth rates ie: KG/live weight by the 18-20 months of age. If the animal grows too slow, then the animal is under stress and the chance of tough meat increases.
    b) Killing methods = An animal killed in it’s normal paddock and routines is more likely to be die with less stress, which can be a contributor to toughening the meat. If you were to go to the meat works you would see and hear a very different atmosphere.
    c) Ageing the meat = The best way to age the meat is to hang it on the bonwe for at least a week. Eating the frying/grilling cuts ‘fresh’ is not advised. Any cuts of meat minced, cooked slow suasages or corned will be ‘tender’.

    d)Vacuum packed, gas flushed versus frozen, health risks versus cheaper than supermarkets = more to come…

  10. Hello to everyone that left a comment after the TVNZ Sunday programme. I can’t really point any of you in the direction of where you can find a cow pooling service.

    The company featured on the programme was They are based in the South Island but deliver anywhere for a fee. I got the feeling though that they aren’t as cheap as buying a beast off TradeMe and then having it killed by a homekill service. To my mind what Sunday did is illegal under the law – they were not taking an active role in caring for that animal for 28 days.

    Good luck in your search. If you find any information be sure to let me know here at Meateaters. And of course, once you get your meat be sure to check back here to find some great recipes on how to cook it.


    1. There are quite a few places that kill beasts on their farm, package the meat and ship it round the country. Usually they are premium prices though. As an example, I occasionally buy meat from Lake Farm Beef,, which sell very high quality beef processed into cuts and smallgoods. They are more expensive than a supermarket.

      Angus beef is generally considered to be pretty good. I’d be interested in seeing the Farmgate prices if anyone wants to post them. It could well be cheaper than buying from other places if they are doing bulk kills.

      1. Hi Thrash – I’ve signed up to their newsletter (Farmgate) – nothing received yet. I reckon they’ll be similar pricing to Lake Farm Beef by the time it gets to your door.

        Lake Farm Beef are now doing a ‘cow-pooling’special where you can commit to getting half a beast but it’s only sent out to you in small packages when you need it. It’s a good idea and eliminates the need to freeze all the good cuts. But it’s still likely to be more expensive than supermarkets but obviously at a much much higher quality.

        1. I have a price list. Comparison with Lake Farm (LF)

          LF = Quarter – 40kg pack $678 $16.95/kg split over a maximum of 8 months in lots of 10kgs or 20kgs at a time

          FG = Quarter – from $490.00 – $560.00.

          FG price is the price per kg of the beast PRIOR to processing so its before all the bits you don’t want are removed.

          LF price includes storage should you not want the whole lot at once.

          My guess is you are right. They are pretty comparable. $16.95 per kg for high quality beef (and the LF beef is outstanding in my opinion) is a pretty good price when you consider supermarket prices start close to that for the better stuff (ie topside mince) and go up to $40+ per kg for fillets.

          LF also do a range of sausages and other smallgoods. I’ve had their flavoured sausages and their standard ones and even the standard ones are full of flavour, moist but not fatty etc.

          I might buy some lamb from Farmgate and see how that pans out.

      1. Mike

        Hi Kaye and others,

        I can arrange all the details for your required amount of processed frozen packs being sent to you. I am a qualified butcher and farmer, so I can get through all the issues to legally supply you with beef, sheep, pork etc.

        Please contact me on 0273254535.



        1. kerryn

          Hi Mike
          i am very interested in doing a deal with you as meat prices at the supermarket are shocking. Do u have an email address so i can contact you that way?


  11. Louise

    Hey I am in the bay of plenty and would be really keen to get a beef in my freezer. Anyone who is selling their meat off their farm, I am really keen . much cheaper than on the supermarket.


  12. Julian Downs

    I have a lifestyle block in the Wairarapa and found a definate market for people wanting to cow-pool. There are definate regulations that you need to go through but these are not that difficult. The main regulation is the animal must be killed at a MAF approved abbotair so homekilling is not an option. Once killed at MAF approved abbotair a butcher is often happy to butcher the meat for you.

    After figuring all this out I set up a small business supplying this exact service to people in Wellington ( The number of people wanting to buy in bulk, get the savings and get better quality meat keeps growing.

  13. Jonathan

    I’m also in Auckland and would be interested in splitting bulk meat with others. I would definitely appreciate being kept up with any new developments Alan, and am more than happy for you to keep my name on file in case an appropriate opportunity arises.

    1. Alan

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thanks for your comment – sadly I can’t legally put you in touch with people who want to partake in home-killing – for all the reasons outlined in my posts on Homekill regulations in New Zealand.

      The only way you could do this is to get in touch with someone like Colin Brown at Lake Farm Beef and order as much meat as you can with friends. It costs about the same as a regular butcher but you’ll have the added advantage of knowing exactly where the meat has come from. I think he runs a system where he can identify (and send you pictures) of the cattle beast he slaughters on your behalf. I’ve tried his meat (I had to pay for it) and it is beautiful and very low in fat.

      Otherwise we need to wait until the law is changed for farmers to provide us meat straight from the farm.

      Keep checking back – this is obviously a topic people are interested in.


  14. Jennie Francke

    I’m just trying to find enough people in the Wairarapa to share a cattle beast with us. Ideally 6-10 people. I’ve got a source – just need more people to go in with us. I think setting up a proper meat sharing website would be great.

    1. Alan

      Hi Jennie
      Have you found any people to go in on your cattle beast? Read my post on the Home-kill regulations: The law is quite strict if you are caught.

      What sort of cost are you looking at and are the meat cuts shared equally?

      Meat always seems expensive in New Zealand – the leg of lamb I bought for the Barbecued Lamb Leg cost me $59 which I thought was a hell of a lot of money – but so far we have had two meals out of it (the first meal served 4 adults and 4 children, and the second meal served 2 adults and 2 children). We’ll get another meal, or lots of cold meat sandwiches, tomorrow.

      Thanks for posting.


      1. And I thought the leg of lamb I found in Pak’n’Save last week for $37 was atrociously expensive! I didn’t buy it; I’m not too keen on finding myself unable to pay my bills. Sounds like I turned down a bargain. I also found a whole fillet of beef for about $75-76 and thought that price was obscene too.

        1. Alan

          That $37 leg of lamb sounds like an OK price, but I would question the quality of the meat from Pak’n’Save. I checked out your website – seems like you are having a great time writing – do you still raise your own cattle for consumption?
          Thanks for visiting – please tell your friends about Meateaters!

    2. Stacia

      Hi there, have you found someone to share I have a couple of friends who are interested and ready to share – if already please let me know how I can go about doing this through your source if possible –

      1. Jennie Francke

        are you in the Wairarapa? I’m not sure how to go forward through this website. I was a little intimidated by Alan’s comment regarding regulations etc. (no offense Alan). This forum may not be the best way of establishing these kind of contacts. What do you think?

        1. Alan

          Hi Jennie and Stacia,
          I hope you work something out together. Happy that you contact each other through this forum but I’d be careful given the regulations. It is illegal – which personally I think is wrong.

          Off line I could give you each others emails (as these are attached when you submit a comment. The other way is to sign up on the Forum and then you can swap messages as often as you like.

          Thanks for posting. There is obviously a demand for this.

        2. Stacia

          Hi Jenine,

          Yes am in Wairarapa – as Alan suggest it would be good for us to proceed offline – if ok with you he can use our emails so we can get in touch to arrange this as it would be much better that way – your thoughts please

  15. Deanna

    I am also in Auckland and would be very interested in cow-pooling, sheep etc. I have come across this website in my efforts to find websites that sell their meat direct from the farm, ie the farmer is raising and butchering his/her own animals for sale. Their are some out there but the tricky questions about how the animals are raised is either not answered or you cannot be 100% sure you are getting a truthful answer. I would love it if anyone out their could give me some websites that provide ethically raised meat products?? Deanna

    1. Alan

      Hi Deanna
      Thanks for visiting Meateaters – it would seem that cow-pooling is more problematic than it needs to be – according to the NZ Food Safety Authority you aren’t allowed to kill any animal that you haven’t been actively involved in the care and raising of. I wrote about it here. Based on that logic it would be illegal for several people to ‘buy’ a cattle beast and fatten it on someone’s farm, and then have it slaughtered and the meat distributed amongst the ‘owners’. The penalties are high for the farmer.
      The only way that I could see it working (and I’m not a lawyer) is to find a farm that processes it’s own meat, and come to some arrangement where you pre-buy the meat while it is still alive. The farmer would be guaranteed the sale and so could offer you the meat at a discount on the normal price. Not sure what is in it for the farmer except that they get money up front.
      As for ethically grown meat there is a farm in Karapiro in the Waikato called Lake Farm Beef that grows and sells meat. They are in control of the whole process and can guarantee which cattle beast the meat you purchase comes from. I’m sure they could even send you pictures. I’m intending to do a feature on his product as soon as I can find time. If you choose to make contact please mention this website as a courtesy.

      1. Do you know anyone with a lifestyle block larger than just a couple of hectares? If so, there is your property owner who would be actively involved in raising the beast. This is the way we did it. My brother in law owns such a property on which he raises a few horses. He had enough spare paddock space to raise four beasts. A couple of years before that he raised a few lambs. We pay our share of all costs of course.

  16. Emily

    I’d definitely be interested in some cow-pooling (or pig-pooling, or sheep-pooling), probably could only fit 1/3 or 1/2 in our standing freezer. I’m in the Auckland area. At the risk of continuing a stereotype, I’m clueless when it comes to homekill (but I grew up in Christchurch so it’s not a JAFA thing!)

    1. Alan

      Hi Emily,
      The Meateater’s site is still in it’s infancy – but I have your email so if you don’t mind I’ll keep your name on file and be in touch when I have established meat ‘connections’ up north.
      Thanks for commenting and in for having an interest in the site.

    2. Mark

      I also am in the Auckland region and any further information on this cow-share (and other four legged meat mobiles) thing happening in the region would be fantastic. Not only for the meat, but perhaps also for the milk (for my pets obviously as supposedly it is not good for human consumption – even though science proves otherwise!!)

      Keep me posted 🙂


      1. Alan

        Hi Mark,
        Thanks for your comments and for visiting Meateaters. Please see my reply to Deanna above. I’m going to be contacting the NZ Food Safety Authority to confirm their stance. Check back soon for more details.

  17. I’d be in except for the fact that my chest freezer has just been filled up with a half a side of beef which can be seen here a few months back still walking around. The cost works out to be around $400.00 for a half side – around $3.00 or so a kilogram which makes for some pretty cheap quality beef.

    I used some cross cut blade to make a psuedo bourguignon (no pearl onions) recently and it was superb. The beef was very flavoursome and tender, far more so that cross cut blade bought from the local butcher or any supermarket.

    Definitely the way to go.

    1. Vaughan

      Hi I’m Vaughan

      I’m quite new to all this and I would like to know how does one go about buying a side of beef, I have just gone into bodybuilding and I am required to eat quite a bit of lean beef. Would you mind lending me a hand.
      Maybe some numbers or if you know who to contact or something like that.

      Kind Regards


      1. Hi Vaughan – sadly cow-pooling in New Zealand is not possible. You either have to have a family member who is a farmer and can gift you meat, or you need to go to a butcher like the rest of us and pay top dollar.
        Good luck.

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