Frequently Asked Questions

Your questions

Purchasing beef directly from the ranch for the first time can be overwhelming, but it is actually a simple process.  The FAQs below will clarify the most commonly asked questions, but please don’t hesitate to call or write with your queries. We love to talk about ranching and beef! Thanks for taking time to engage in the process of buying real food from our family.  You are invited to visit the ranch to truly connect with the people and place producing your beef.

Yes! Our cattle are 100% Grassfed and Grass-Finished. They eat grass in the growing season and eat hay in the winter. They are on a forage diet, with no grain, everyday of their lives, from birth to butcher.  This question gets asked because there are “natural” beef producers out there who feed a mixture of grass and grain.  The terminology can sometimes get confusing, but whether you call it Grassfed, Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised, Grass-Finished, Free-Range, Natural, our beef eat the diet cattle were designed to eat, forage. And they receive no supplementation or growth hormones. 

Ordering is as simple as filling out the form on the HOW TO ORDER page. Phone Rachel at 403-601-5467 or email for any questions about the process. A $200 deposit holds your order. Please return your order form with the deposit. 

Our prime beef is truly grassfed and grass-finished, and processed seasonally between July and October. Ordering begins on February 1 of each year. Orders are processed first-come-first served. Supply is limited, order early so you don’t miss out!

The amount of beef you receive will depend on the weight of the specific animal your Side comes from and how you have had the beef cut.  A Side of our beef can range from 300-425 pounds wet hanging weight. Shrinkage is the amount of weight loss from a wet hanging weight to the beef weight in your freezer.  The “shrink” on an average carcass is 40%.  So a 375lb wet hanging Side would yield approximately 225 lbs of meat. The shrinkage changes depending on how you like it cut, how much moisture is lost while dry-aging, and how much fat is removed from each cut. For example, de-boning the steaks makes for greater weight loss, but not less meat. So choosing New York Strip steaks instead of T-Bone steaks, will reduce the total weight, but not the total amount of meat. A Side will yield approximately 8 “butcher boxes” of beef.  Make sure to take advantage of all the nutritious and tasty “extras”- heart, tongue, kidney, liver, suet, and soup bones -these are not weighed as part of the carcass weight.

We offer three options to get you your beef:

1) You may pick up the beef from our specialty processor, Prairie Meats in Coaldale, AB, about 10 minutes east of Lethbridge or 1.5 hours south of Calgary. Call them at (403) 345-2190 for hours and directions.

2) On a prearranged delivery day, you may pick up your beef from Trail’s End at the ranch 10 minutes south of Nanton. This is a great chance to see a working ranch, let the kids play in the barnyard, see grassfed beef and hens in the pasture, and meet the family raising your food. This is also a great chance to connect with other like-minded folks filling their freezers with grassfed beef.

3) For your convenience you may have your beef delivered to a central point in Calgary on a prearranged delivery day.

All beef comes neatly wrapped, frozen, boxed and labelled.

Payment is due prior to pick-up. You will be notified with an email invoice for your Beef payment. For Whole and Side orders, the butcher will contact you for payment of the Butchering fees by phone.

A typical Side – again, this depends on the individual animal – would be around 8 cubic feet. It comes in approximately 6-8 butcher boxes of finished product. A typical Quarter would be about 4 cubic feet, about 3-4 butcher boxes of finished product.

At typical deep freeze temperatures of -18, the beef will last 12 months or more. The beef comes professionally wrapped in brown butcher paper, which ensures better storage than vacuum seal bags which can release and allow the meat to freezer burn. We once dug out a 3 year old Blade Roast from the bottom of our family’s deep freeze. It was perfect, just a tiny bit of frost on one corner.

No, you don’t need to have any special knowledge at all.  An online Cutting Instruction Template will be emailed to you within a day of your processing date. It will walk you through each primal cut of beef to make your personal selections. You will make a few simple decisions like how big you want your roasts, how many steaks per package, and how many pounds of hamburger per package. If you wish to speak with the butcher directly they always welcome a phone call. They will talk you through the process to ensure that you get the most value and enjoyment out of your beef.

Yes, when you order a Side/Half or Whole beef you choose how the beef is cut. You can have your meat cut to suit the kind of cooking you like – for example, large or small steaks, bone left in or taken out, more roasts versus more steaks, stew meat or kabobs, more ground beef or maybe some hamburger patties or sausage. Our Quarters are semi-custom. You choose from two options with lots of variety and the butcher’s expertise to make the best use of the meat.

YES. We also offer Quarters. Ordering a semi-custom quarter of beef is the perfect option for getting your grass-finished beef in a manageable size. We offer two different cutting options: The Butcher’s Balance is a traditional mix of roasts, steaks, and ground. The BBQ Bounty has fewer roasts and an abundance of steaks and ground, as well as kabobs and stew meat.

Select Cuts are also available. But remember, grassfed beef is processed seasonally so supply is limited and variable. Sign up for the newsletter or watch Facebook to be notified when steaks, roasts, ground beef, soup bones, offal, and sausages are available.

Absolutely – many of our customers find a friend, neighbor or colleague to split a Side or Whole beef. Your order is custom cut. Please let the butcher know that you will be sharing the beef and they will advise you of the best options and divide it up into two for you. A Side or Whole splits down easily to divide steaks, hamburger and roasts between two parties. The beef will come packed separately and labelled with your names. We ask that one “point person” handles the order and cutting decisions, and that we receive one payment.

If you choose to share a Quarter of beef it will come as one order and you get to divide the beef among your group. A Quarter will likely not split perfectly into equal parts so we let you make the decisions, but we are happy to advise you on the value of the cuts if you would like assistance.

The homeplace of Trail’s End Beef is just 10 minutes south of Nanton, Alberta, Canada. Located one hour south of Calgary and one hour fifteen minutes north of Lethbridge, this accessible little piece of native prairie and hayland is where we welcome our customers and friends.

Trail’s End Ranch proper, the piece of historic family land that inspired our business name, is located in the Porcupine Hills southwest of Nanton, AB, Canada. Our children are the fifth-generation to ranch this land and we treasure it as our private summer retreat. The Porcupine Hills are a part of the famous eastern slopes foothills of the Canadian Rockies. The eastern slopes are a critical ecosystem for North America since these large grasslands capture, filter, store and release the source water for Western Canada all the way to the Hudson’s Bay.

 Trail’s End Beef is provincially inspected and offered for sale directly from the ranch in southern Alberta. We offer pick up at the ranch near Nanton or directly from the butcher in Coaldale. We offer delivery to Calgary at a convenient meeting point on select dates and times. Our beef has found it’s way to freezers as far north as Fort McMurray, all the way south to Waterton.  No shipping is available at this time.

No, we specialize in Grassfed Beef.  However, we can recommend many producers who raise the meat that we purchase for our family, pasture-raised pork, chicken, turkey, and more. Please visit the Other Producers page under the Network menu for details..

Yes, we do. But only when supplies are available. If you come into our yard you will see hens everywhere, in the garden, in the horse pastures, in the corrals, scratching in the deep mulch in their backyard, occasionally hopping onto the deck.  We love our hens, particularly because it means we never have to waste a scrap of food. They produce rich, dark-yolk eggs in abundance, most of the time…Since the hens are a backyard flock and not for commercial production we don’t advertise our eggs. If you come to visit we just might have extra to spare. So just ask. We’d be happy to supply you with eggs if we have them. 

Interestingly, we are asked this question at least once a week.  I love that the demand for pasture-raised products extends into every area of the shopping list!  But, no, we do not sell grassfed butter. When I was milking our sweet, family milk cow, April, I made grassfed butter for our own family’s use. However, raw milk products cannot be sold off the farm in Alberta.  Grassfed local butter is not readily available here, because Alberta dairy cows are typically housed indoors and fed a ration of hay, silage, and grains.  Check out your closest natural foods store for grassfed butter imported from places like Quebec or New Zealand, where grassfed milk production is more common. and reach out to the dairy industry to let them know the demand is there!

Vaccines are an important part of herd health. Our calves are inoculated before they are turned out with their mothers on pasture in the summer and receive a booster at weaning time in the fall. We vaccinate against diseases that are common in our region and pose a serious health threat to our cattle, such as pneumonia and black leg. All vaccine protocols are monitored by our local veterinarian. Much like early childhood vaccines, these are all traditionally-formulated vaccines.  There are currently no mRNA vaccines approved for use in animal health.