Butcher's Edge puts ranchers' needs at the forefront of meat processing
Butcher's Edge opened in June 2022 by five agriculturalists who also double as friends.
EDGELEY, N.D. — Sitting around a breakfast table in a diner on Main Street, five friends slowly sipped their morning coffee. The group had managed to escape their farms, ranches and other responsibilities to enjoy each others' company. They were chatting about some of the obstacles local ranchers were facing, themselves included.
During the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became glaringly obvious that there was a back-up at local butcher shops and the large meat-packing plants were also facing some serious setbacks. That’s when inspiration struck.
“One morning while having coffee on Main Street in Edgeley we started talking about the idea of maybe someday putting together a plant,” Garitt Irey said.
The once small idea blossomed into fruition in June of 2022, when the five men officially opened up Butcher’s Edge, a state-inspected meat processing facility.
Keeping the beef at home
The state of North Dakota has a staggering population of cattle. According to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture the state is the home to over 1.8 million cattle.
“We have quality. A lot of us have talked about this for a long time. We have some of the best cattle in the world and we want to get quality to our customers,” Jay Mathern said. “As a cattle producer for many years, we’ve always had a challenge. We don’t have a major packer in North Dakota. We have a lot of cattle here;they all get shipped out of state.”
Mathern, his brother Grant Mathern, Garitt Irey, Tim Moch and Mike Schlosser are all co-founders and owners of Butcher’s Edge. They were excited to have the opportunity to offer high quality meat to their rural community. They have been getting numerous inquiries asking about a quarter or half a beef, and many of the customers calling had never ordered that amount of meat before at once.
For the men behind Butcher’s Edge, this solidified that their business was not only valued, but needed.
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Moch and the Mathern brothers are all cattlemen and raise their own herds. Irey works directly with farmers through his role at Farmers Union Insurance and Schlosser farms row crops in the area. All of these ties to the industry gave the men an inside advantage — they knew what ranchers wanted when it came to having their livestock butchered.
“We had a pretty good idea, I guess, just talking to people about what their pains were, and a lot of it was to do with it took so long to get cattle in and that was our biggest clue that this was a need for ranchers around here,” Mike Schlosser said.
One thing they wanted to incorporate into their operation was a seamless dropping off system for their customers. They accomplished this by putting two garage doors at opposite ends of the drop off building. Ranchers can pull in with their trailers, unload their cattle, and drive straight out with little hassle. This has made the unloading process less stressful on not only the ranchers, but the livestock as well.
“Being a cattle person, we know how people want their animals treated as they come off the trailer into your facility. I don't like hot shots, a lot of people don’t like to see that stuff. So we try to treat these cattle as humane as possible and as comfortable as possible,” Jay Mathern said.
The day-to-day operations are overseen by Moch, who acts as manager of the facility. Moch is mostly self-taught when it comes to cutting meat, but he has been doing it for decades. Butcher’s Edge is equipped to handle 20 head of cattle a week. While they work with cattle the most, they also process hogs, lamb and even wild game such as deer.
Butcher’s Edge also works with local ranchers in the unfortunate case of an injured animal. Due to the proximity of the plant, they are able to process the animal and not waste the meat. Being an inspected facility, Moch says this also gives their customers a chance to market their own meat through Butcher’s Edge’s store front.
“It just gives guys another option, especially now that we’re inspected. If they want to start marketing some local stuff they can bring it here instead of taking it to a sales barn or something,” he said.
In the future, they hope to incorporate more freezers in their storefront and offer a variety of products. But for now, the men are happy they are able to help their local community that survives off the agriculture industry.
“If there wasn’t agriculture here, there would be nothing, right? There's a lot of cattle in this area,” Moch said.