Barham’s Ozark Beef prides itself on producing beef from a well-maintained, stress-free herd
In 2019, Charlie and Lynda Barham, and Ed and Mariana Linck launched Barham’s Ozark Beef, a direct-to-consumer program focused on delivering quality beef directly to their buyers.
They started small, selling a total of six head to friends and family. In 2020, they were able to sell 30, and have scheduled 48 in 2021.
According to Ed, superior product and customer loyalty have been the keys to their success so far. He added that the current economy amid COVID-19 has caused demand for well-sourced beef to increase and their repeat business has been strong.
“Our retention rate has been approximately 70 to 80 percent,” Ed explained.
They market their beef through their Facebook page and their website, www.barhamsozarkbeef.com, but Mariana said word of mouth has been a big factor in their growth over the last year.
Charlie began his cattle farming operation in 1981. During that time, he was a “bread man” for 30 years in the Conway, Ark., area before retiring in 2013 to farm full-time. He believes that the excellent flavor of his beef is due to two important factors.
“My animals are never stressed because they spend their whole lives here. And, we are unique in that we feed sweet potatoes,” he said.
Charlie selects the best Charolais-cross calves from his commercial herd of 125 cows for the program. All of his calves are born on his farm near Ozark, Ark.
“They don’t go through a sale, It’s just me they see everyday,” he said of his low stress operation.
The calves are weaned at 7 months and are then fed twice a day for 240 days, as well as being on improved pasture. Charlie makes a daily trip to a local sweet potato processor to pick up the by-products, then adds it directly to the grain ration.
The cattle go straight to the processor. Ed picks up the processed beef and delivers it right to the customer’s door. They have invested in a freezer trailer that will help make deliveries more efficient and ensure product quality. The majority of customers are currently from Faulkner and Pulaski counties but there are some in Pope and Franklin.
“Our business strategy is unique, because we choose to absorb some cost by investing in each customer with free door-to-door delivery in central Arkansas,” said Mariana. “It is Edwin’s favorite part of the business. He loves staying connected to our customers and staying close to their feedback. One of our first customers called immediately after trying our beef to double their next order since they loved it so much. That’s when we smiled at each other and then he said, ‘“Well, I guess we are doing somethin’ right!”’
The team uses Cypress Valley Meat Company in Pottsville, Ark. Ed said finding a processor who had a full-time USDA inspector on site was critical in their choice of facilities. It’s also centrally located to the farm, to their homes and to the majority of their customer base. Ed said it has been challenging to find a processor that can keep up with their growth. Cypress Valley recently announced his expanding and would soon be able to take on additional orders, giving them greater potential to continue to grow.
Ed recalls in the beginning there was a learning curve that came with the butchering process and added he understands it can be really confusing the first time a customer places an order. He takes the time to clearly explain customized cut options to each client. Having the cut options broken down helps clients ensure they get exactly what they want with their order.
Ed and Charlie continue to learn from each other and improve the efficiency of the business. Ed offered this business advice, “Partner with someone who knows a lot more than you do. Charlie is a professional at raising cattle and running a farm. His years of experience have made my part of the equation much easier since I know he will consistently produce high quality beef. There’s also a high level of trust between the two of us. Choose the right people to go into business with. You end up spending up a lot of time with each other, so you might as well invest that time with someone you enjoy being in business with.”
“What I love the most about seeing the business grow is having our daughter near granddad Charlie’s hard work and dedication to the farm,” Mariana added. “She just loves it out here, and she loves playing in her muddy boots.”