When Dunbar Meats began in 1957, the beef industry was primarily made up of small packing houses across the Midwest serving local small farms. Today, over 85% of beef in the U.S. comes from just a few massive agribusiness firms, operating mainly outside Michigan. The world has changed around us, but Dunbar’s continues to do what we have always done: provide the best old-fashioned process, service, and quality to local small farms – and their families, friends, and customers.

Raising and selling livestock is the key to financial solvency for many local small farms. Your support keeps the local farm economy intact for another generation, so that they may continue to provide you with their best offerings for your family’s health and enjoyment!

Smoked Beef Brisket

Our process begins with local small farms booking appointments for their beef, up to a year in advance. After the “hanging weight” for each beef-half is known (imagine a side of beef on a hook – this is how weight is measured), Dunbar’s will inform the farmer of these weights, and then the farmer provides customer contact information for each half-beef and quarter-beef. We will call (or text) customers for info as needed.

If you do not know of a local small farm raising quality beef, Dunbar’s provides a sourcing service to obtain a top-quality local beef for you – on a half-beef or standard quarter basis.

Top-Quality Beef Half
(also includes, not shown: Short Ribs, Soup Bones, and 65 to 100 pounds of Hamburger)



If you have purchased a beef-half or a whole beef, Dunbar’s will contact you for custom cutting instructions within two weeks after the farmer brought in the beef. The dry-aging process is very important to maximizing the taste and texture of beef, and so the first two weeks are dedicated to this.

Your order will be typically be completed and ready for pickup within four weeks, plus or minus a few days – and you will be contacted via text or phone (as you prefer) with the instructions for order pickup.

Customer-favorite Options for a Beef-Half Order


If you have purchased a quarter beef and do not know who purchased the other quarter of your half, your order will be a “Standard Cut” which is a popular mix of steaks, roasts, burger and other items such as stew meat. The only option available with a “Standard Cut” is adding ten pounds of hamburger patties to your order (at 60 cents per pound – this adds $6 to your processing total). Call us if you would like some of your burger as patties. Otherwise, the default choice is all burger in one-pound blocks.

hamburger patties – perfect for quick summer meals

Dunbar’s will contact standard cut purchasers when their orders are complete and ready for pickup – approximately four weeks after the farmer brought in the beef.

One way to purchase a quarter and still get a custom cut, is to split a half-beef with a friend or family member. Both of your quarters can be cut as a “split side” with one set of custom instructions that are applied to the beef and then split into two identical portions. When you purchase the quarters, inform the farmer that you two are actually splitting a half-beef and that Dunbar’s should contact you for the custom cut instructions (or call us directly yourself at 734-439-7730 and we’ll take care of it.)

Chart for a Standard-Cut Beef Quarter

After the dry-age process is complete (two weeks or so), your beef will be expertly cut and wrapped by our team. First the steaks and roasts are cut, then the hamburger is prepared. All are vacuum-packed in thick-mil freezer wrap and flash-frozen to preserve quality. It is important to keep your meat frozen and not allow it to thaw while taking it home, so you should bring coolers / boxes for pickup.

ORDER PICKUP: As our freezers are flash-freezers rather than storage freezers, they are much colder (and more expensive) to run. We greatly appreciate quick action when you are contacted to pick up your order. “Your first week of storage is free” – after that, we’ll remind you with an expiration date, after which there will be a $10 daily storage fee.

HOW MUCH FREEZER SPACE WILL I NEED? The standard rule of thumb for an average-sized beef is five cubic feet for a quarter-beef, ten cubic feet for a half-beef (this can vary somewhat due to how the beef is cut – hamburger is the most compact form).

Top-Quality Porterhouse Steak (note large tenderloin), vacuum-packed

Some of the benefits of purchasing beef from local small farms (and having Dunbar’s process it) include:

  • Dunbar’s process includes the time and space to “dry-age” each beef in the cooler for two weeks prior to cutting it, to maximize the quality of texture and flavor (versus industrial processes “wet-aging” beef in plastic bags while it is in transit)
  • All of the burger is from your beef and of the same quality as that beef (in contrast with industrial processes, which grind the meat of thousands of cattle together in room-sized batches. Consider that the massive beef recalls reported in the news media usually involve tainted hamburger!)
  • Cuts and burger are vacuum-packed and flash-frozen to preserve quality and stability in your freezer for as long as possible
  • The land of small farms is generally passed down from generation to generation, and herds are raised in a “cycle of life” as well – thus, small farms naturally avoid all industrial agribusiness practices that could cause long-term damage to their land and livestock herds
  • Happy animals are better-quality livestock. Stress affects the taste of meat – and when animals roam freely outdoors and are well-cared for, the difference is obvious in the quality of their meat
Above: Black Angus Cattle, a popular breed for Meat (not Dairy)

Beef Processing Fees for Ranchers/Farmers (effective May 1, 2022):

  • Side of Beef greater than 300 pounds hanging weight:  70 cents per pound based on hanging weight for custom cuts, 67 cents per pound for standard cut, and 85 cents per pound for all-burger option)
  • Side of Beef less than 300 pounds hanging weight but over 200 pounds:  93 cents per pound based on hanging weight for custom cuts, 90 cents per pound for standard cut, and $1.08 per pound for all-burger option
  • Side of Beef less than 200 pounds hanging weight but over 100 pounds:  $ 1.28 per pound based on hanging weight for custom cuts, $1.25 per pound for standard cut, and $ 1.50 per pound for all-burger option
  • Side of Beef less than 100 pounds:  $ 2.88 per pound based on hanging weight for custom cuts, $2.85 for standard cut, and $ 3.10 per pound for all-burger option
  • Additional per-head slaughter fee of $60 per beef ($30 half, $15 quarter) plus per-head environmental fee of $40 per beef ($20 half, $10 quarter)