In addition to its own store, the company is gradually increasing its wholesale distribution by working with SpartanNash and other retailers. Courtesy SCC
A family-owned West Michigan dairy operation ventured into raising beef last year and just opened a storefront.
Father-son duo John and Ben Schaendorf launched Schaendorf Cattle Co. (SCC) in spring 2017 as an extension of the family dairy farm established in Hopkins in 1994.
Rather than selling the bull calves born on the dairy farm, they now keep them to raise for slaughter.
Amid the successful online beef sales, the co-owners heard customers asking for a brick-and-mortar option where they could pick up steaks for grilling immediately instead of waiting for the cuts to be shipped.
SCC recently opened a retail storefront at its farm, 2518 130th Ave. in Hopkins.
“It’s not full-blown retail, but it has a full selection of all parts of the animal,” Ben Schaendorf said. “Customers can come and get their meat here or buy it online.”
Beef also is for sale at schaendorfcattlecompany.com, where customers can find recipes developed by Grand Rapids food entrepreneur Jenn “Jenny with the Good Eats” Fillenworth to give them ideas on how to cook it.
The list of available products from SCC includes anything from a 6-ounce filet mignon ($10) to a 12-ounce Delmonico steak ($14) to 2 pounds of short ribs ($5) or 1 pound of stew meat ($4).
SCC also sells burger patties and ground beef by the case ($3.75-$120, depending on size), as well as meat gift boxes.
“One of the largest parts of our business is Christmas gift boxes, where customers can send their employees or clients steaks. We’re ‘the Omaha steaks alternative,’” Ben Schaendorf said. “We’re in the taste business.”
Those who purchase online can get free delivery anywhere in the contiguous United States.
Ben Schaendorf said he and his family want to provide a local source of meat for customers who care about humane treatment of animals and sustainable farming practices.
“We’re able to have total control of the process, from when they’re born to how we feed them to their environment,” Ben Schaendorf said.
SCC strives to maintain “clean, low-stress living conditions” in which its 850 Holsteins — all castrated males, or steers — get consistent nutrition, shade, air flow and fresh water in a 57,500-square-foot barn that was built to house 1,200 head of cattle.
The cattle are control-fed, rather than grass-fed, with a mixture of grain and forages developed by nutritionists. Although they are vaccinated when young, the steers are not given hormones or antibiotics.
Ben Schaendorf said he knows some people prefer grass-fed beef because it’s leaner and said to be cruelty-free, but SCC sees it as less efficient and harder on the cow.
“It’s leaner, but (grass-fed steers) grow slower because they’re out in the hot sun roaming all over to graze,” he said. “We think they are actually happier in where it’s cool and stress-free.”
The farm tries to minimize its impact on the environment by using recycled wood chips for the cattle’s bedding and feeding them with crops raised using less fuel and fewer chemicals.
Another point of pride for the Schaendorfs is their sustainable crop rotation practices, locally sourced feed and use of manure as fertilizer.
“We can put a face on ‘local West Michigan’ as being in our backyard,” Ben Schaendorf said. “This is our product and our animals. It’s not somebody else’s, and it’s not in a box from wherever.”
Alongside opening its own store, SCC is gradually increasing its wholesale distribution. It is now a supplier to SpartanNash within Michigan and also will be selling beef at the new Bridge Street Market when the Meijer-owned store opens in August.
Additionally, Schaendorf supplies a small number of restaurants and convenience stores.
The Schaendorf Cattle Co. Store is open 3:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.