Category Archives: Farm Marketing

Marketing- The Local Farmer’s Market

We have been attending the local Farmer’s Market selling our cuts of Ossabaw Island pork and fresh brown eggs.  We have enjoyed meeting new people, and it gives our back a break from the farm work.( With a big thank you to my parents for their time spent helping set up and tear down.) Our time spent at the market is one way we are marketing and branding our farm in the local community.

There are hundreds of ways to market your farm. But our main goal is  to increase brand recognition, and produce some cash flow.  A Farmers Market in a small community can be a great place to sell your products, but use it to network and generate sales directly from the farm as well.

In our community it seems that meat vendors  have been very spotty at the Farmer’s Market.  And from customer reaction they are not use to the level of care we put into our animals. Customers are pleased to learn that our meat is raised with no antibiotic, no vaccines, and no added hormones, but are not educated on why it makes a difference. We spend time with our customers giving information on why our pork is better. Not every customer is in the market for pork at that time, but hopefully our information will bring them back to us when they are.

Tent at the Farmers Market
Burnin R Farms set up at the Monett Farmer’s Market

I am not the best at decorating, but I am very good at being unique. Our tent is very noticeable among the other vendors. I am also using computer cut vinyl letters wherever possible to make clear, readable signs. No one should have to decipher my handwriting. Our pricing board has vinyl letters on a whiteboard, so we can adjust prices without recreating the whole board.

Burinn R Farms Sign
Burnin R Farms Metal Sign

I made a farm sign out of an old metal sign I had made when I was taking motorcycles to bike shows. I cut the vinyl and applied it to the sign. Recognition is a great way to create credibility, the more someone sees your “look” in a positive atmosphere the more it is perceived as credible.

We are increasing sales every week. We are gaining repeat customers and we have even scheduled a sale of a whole hog in September.  I am surprised at how the egg sales have really taken off, I am needing to add more hens to the coop now.

Marketing is like a marathon, you may sprint occasionally, but a steady gain is the best.

 


 

 

 

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New Tent for the Farmers Market

We have found a perfect new pop-up tent for the farmers market. not only was it priced affordably, it is styled to our liking. Burnin’ R Farms will be well represented this summer.

New Farmers Market Tent

 

I love the flames on the tent. It fits in well with our brand.

 

 

 

We had to add a new freezer and coolers to our equipment list to be able to properly hold the meat we will be selling.  We are also in the process of adding new T-shirts with logos and other branded farm items.

Look for us at the Monett, MO farmers markets on Saturdays this summer! We will have pasture raised Ossabaw Island pork by the cut, farm fresh eggs, lye soap, and any extra vegetables that we can bring. Plus, as soon as we can, we will have gourmet mushroom to add to the list. Shiitake, Lion’s mane, and several Oyster mushroom are in various stages of growth and will be available soon.

 


 

New Income Stream For Burnin R Farms

I am always looking for another good way to add another stream of income. When something catches my eye I do a lot of research to see if it would be a good fit for our operation. One day I stumbled onto a story that I just couldn’t get out of my head. The more I researched it, the more it made sense to me to give it a try.

Mushrooms!!  Not the kind made famous in the 70’s, but the kind that are showing up in farmers markets across the country. There are many different kind of edible mushrooms but the most popular are different varieties of Oyster mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms, and Lion’s Mane mushrooms. These are often referred to as gourmet mushrooms and are not usually available in local grocery stores because these varieties are delicate and do not ship well.

Europe and Asia have had a large industry farming gourmet mushrooms for many years. In some 3rd world communities mushrooms are a great source of food and revenue.  But in the United States, we have been slow to grasp the value of mushrooms. In recent years the U.S.  has slowly been increasing its consumption of mushrooms, making now a perfect time to get into this industry.

I could write a book from what I have learned about the health benefits of mushrooms. They have been studied for heart health, diabetic health, nerve health, and for their anti- tumor properties. Eastern Medicine is full of references to different mushrooms. Mushrooms have even been found in archeological studies of ancient cultures.  I have also learned that the gourmet types that are raised are included on the list of mushroom that are known to improve health.

I have chose several varieties that I will be growing, but I have started with Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus). Lion’s Mane is a very aggressive grower and it loves to produce the fruit that we eat. I have been told that the flavor is reminiscent of lobster, but it reminded me of eating morels as a kid.

Lion’s mane in nature grows on hardwood trees.  This year I saw one while deer hunting in Southern Missouri, so they are also a local mushroom for most people and can be wild harvested. I will be growing mine on hardwood pellets with supplements in a bag.

The mushroom forms a mat of mycelium  in and around the hardwood sawdust in the bag.  After it has fully colonized the bag, it ready to fruit.

Lions Mane Mushroom Fruiting
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Fruiting

 

 

By cutting a small slit in the bag the concentration of oxygen spurs the mushroom to fruit. It starts to grow outside of the bag. In the picture, there is a small ball on the front of the bag. That initial start will grow to beautiful mushroom.

 

 

It takes several days to grow to full maturity. While it is growing it is important give it a small misting to keep it moist and hydrated.

Lions Mane Mushroom starting to grow
Lion’s Mane Mushroom starting to grow

 

Lion’s mane, when young looks like a cauliflower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is really hard to patiently wait for this mushroom to grow

Lions Mane Mushroom Still Growing
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Still Growing

 

 

Wow, it just keeps growing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lions Mane Mushroom Still Growing
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Still Growing

 

 

Boy, this mushroom is looking great!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lions Mane Mushroom Almost Mature
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Almost Mature

 

Almost a week of growth. You can see the hair like projections starting to grow. When fully mature these hairs will flow down giving it a mane like look, Hence the name Lion’s Mane.

This project is just begun and I am so excited to expand the operation. I am also excited to finally be able use my degree in Biotechnology to to benefit the farm.

 

 

 


 

Burnin R Farm Branding

My attempt to create a brand for our farm is in its early stages. We have called ourselves the Burnin R for a long time, but only recently started  using it for business. Now that we are getting involved with farmers markets to sell our product, it is time work on our brand.

I was looking for an original logo, one that would not be mistaken when seen. Even though we will be starting out as a local business, we need our customers and future customers to see our logo and know who we are. Old time cattle brands were self explaining to a point, the ranches name was evident within the brand. That is what I am trying to create with our logo.

Burnin R Logo
Burnin R Logo

This is a first rendering of my idea. I have not finalized it, but it gives you an idea of what I am trying to do. I am open for criticism, so leave a comment with what you think.

 

Another way that we are setting our farm apart from our competition is with our product. We have been raising Ossabaw Island Pigs for several years, and during that time we have been creating a cross that gives us a larger size and retains the awesome flavor and meat quality. This year we are fattening out 30 plus pigs to be sold as individual cuts at the farmers markets. I know for a fact that we will be the only ones that can claim to have this pork.

Most farms try to fatten a hog up as quick as they can. They use the standard feed mix sold at their local feed store which is usually a corn- soybean mix. This ration is great for fattening a hog, but the soy leaves an undesirable flavor and meat quality.  We have been raising our pigs solely for meat quality and flavor.  So, we have developed a special ration to finish our hogs off.  It is a Ration that gives the meat a sweet flavor and firms up the texture a bit. Our pork sells itself, one try is all it takes. The difference is enough for people to seek out our pork.

Burnin R Cross Pigs
Burnin R Cross Pigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the year progresses we will be working on ways to set our brand. We will be getting our brand in front of as many people as we can during this next farmers market season. Hopefully the Burnin R logo will become  known as the mark of great pork. Plus we will be introducing new products produced by our farm this year. We are in early trials in producing several gourmet products, once perfected we will be putting them under the Burnin R Brand as well. Stay tuned!!


 

 

 

A Brand or Logo- Why Is It Important

Do you have your own brand or unique product? If you don’t, how will anyone pick you or your product over others? How do you set your farm or your product apart from everyone else?

Creating an identity  that people notice is what all businesses strive to do. Your identity is almost as important as your product. Having an identity or brand will go a long way in the eye of the consumer, just like street credibility. The more often a consumer is in contact with your identity, the better your product seems.

Humans are funny creatures, what we see  or hear creates our reality. Our brains collect and store data, some we use immediately, some we use to support later thoughts.  If we shop for a product, a product that we have stored thoughts on,  is immediately in better standing than one that we have nothing to recall. Stored thoughts can be from seeing the product first hand, or from a friend that has told us about it. Branding creates stored thoughts that can be used to validate and support decisions of consumers.

Humans are also herd animals, we strive to belong. A brand can give you opportunities to give someone a sense of being a part of your business or product. If you put on a baseball cap, what is on it?  It will usually have a brand or logo of something that you have an interest in, a sports team, a hunting brand, or a saying of some kind. This is how companies can get placed into your stored data and how they can influence your buying decisions.

Branding is used by companies to represent them. Companies use names, symbols, jingles, styles of writing, and even animals to create their brand. Ranches use a symbol burned into the hide of cattle to represent them and show ownership, these symbols are called brands. Can you see a Clydesdale horse and not think of beer?

As small business owners we should tap into this marketing tool. We should be finding ways to get stored in consumers minds. Product or brand placement is everywhere, stickers on vehicles, t-shirts, coats, hats, signs, billboards, radio spots, commercials, and even tattoos. even with a shoe-string budget, a business should be able to find a way to place their brand in the view or ear of a consumer.

If you are a farmer at a farmer’s market, make sure your tent has your brand or name on it. if you have your meat processed to sell, have the processor put our name on the label. If you drive a vehicle,  have your brand or name on a magnetic sign that you can stick  to it. Get t-shirts made to wear when you  are out shopping, and give them to friends to wear.

There are a thousand ways to get noticed. Even the cheapest ideas can give your business a boost. Get creative and get seen or heard by your future customer.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Growing the farm

We have been spending all of our free time getting our “to do” list knocked out. Our focus on growing the scope of our farm has added a lot of work this summer to our list. With a lot help from my parents, we are slowly getting caught up.

Our main goal  this year is to increase the number of revenue streams on our farm. The hard part about adding different revenue streams, is to not spread yourself to thin. There is only so much time in one day.  You must not cut your free time too short or you will burn yourself out and the farm will become a drain.

Our goal this year is to  increase our number of sows,  and in doing so we are now producing feeder pigs and fat hogs from different breeds. We were already breeding Ossabaw Island Pigs, so adding a few more litters of babies a month will not over tax our infrastructure or allocated labor. We did need to add more pens and build a few more huts, but  we also put in a new alley system to make feeding time run smoother. With the new alley, the time  it takes to feed has actually decreased. The alley will also allow us to break one more large pen into three, which will let us better manage our growing herd.

New Duroc Cross Babies
Duroc Cross Babies

We have farrowed 4 litters of babies this past week. Our new pens and alley made that easier. We did not plan on so many at once, but nature sometimes makes its own plans.  Next year we will be scheduling our litters to better coincide with the market. We had times this spring that we sold out of feeder pigs, and we are constantly running a reservation list for Ossabaw Island pig breeders. Our new pens will allow us to keep a surplus so we will not miss any sales. Plus the surplus will lead into another revenue stream already in the works to be implemented some time next year.

We have also just about completed our chicken coop. We have been been selling a few eggs, but we will be able to focus more on that. Also with the coop done we will be able to breed 3 separate breeds and a popular egg laying hybrid. The completed coop will allow the farm to increase the number of products that we can sell,  which will hopefully draw in a few more customers.

We must constantly reevaluate where we are on our path,  and we must be constantly searching for the roads that will lead us to our destination.  -Brett

 


 

Multiple Streams of Income

“Don’t put your eggs all in one basket”   is the old saying that everyone should be practicing on their farm, and not just in the hen house. It is wise to not rely on just one feed supplier in case of an emergency. You are using the same concept by having an emergency generator. Backing yourself up just makes sense.

Farm revenue should be no different. You should create multiple streams of income in case one stream’s flow starts to slow down.  The fancy word for this is diversification. You can even  create this in multiple levels, like diversifying your diversification. Now that is fancy.

Farm diversification can be as simple as running cattle and hogs. That is two different streams of income. Or you can be a go getter and run cattle, hogs, raise chickens,  grow a garden to sell vegetables, grow and sell sweet corn, and bale hay. I would rather try to earn a portion of my income from different sources, than try to squeeze as much out of one source as possible and hope it is enough.

If you want to get fancy. Diversify your cattle into multiple streams of income.  Do that by selling replacement heifers, selling bulls, selling to your neighbor for the meat, or renting a bull out for breeding. Diversify your Hogs by selling feeder pigs, market hogs, breeding pairs, and for custom processing. Diversify your chickens by selling eggs, laying hens, baby chicks, and roasters for the meat. Then mix all of their manure together and sell the compost. The key to success is trying to see how many ways you can individually market your products by breaking them down into separate components. Then try to break them down again until you have created as many revenue streams as you can handle.

How many ways can you sell an egg?

Good Luck!!


 

Set your price and stick to it!

I am too nice. I have given out too many deals and lost money on  many sales. When I first started with selling livestock I was lacking confidence in the process.  I didn’t set my price and stick with it, I let customers talk me down on price almost every time. Because of it, I sold a lot of pigs one summer but my profits did not reflecting the volume sold.

I have learned the hard way to set my price and stick to it.  Our customers have to realize that it costs money to get the animals to the point of sale. The sale of offspring has to cover the cost of the breeding stock, plus any cost incurred after weaning. The money and time spent up to the sale is your break even point, your rock bottom price should always be above that point. If you sell your animals at or below your break even point, you are actually paying your customer to take your animals from you.

I have always been customer focused in every job that I have had. Which is great when attracting the sale, and getting the commitment of the sale, but not great when negotiating price. My trick to avoid selling too low is to have everything laid out in advance.  I set my price and also  set my rock bottom price. I set how much I will come down at a time, and know what my answers will be. Example: My price= $100, Rock Bottom= $85, Reduced by $5 increments at a time. If you do not set these in advance, your customer will have the advantage in the negotiation. your customer wants to get the lowest price, and you need to get the highest price.

Good Luck!!

 

How to market your piglets

 

It is hard to make money with pigs if you can’t get them sold.  Getting started in marketing your pigs will take a lot of trial and error. Every farm’s local market will differ and you may need to experiment with marketing plans to find what is most productive.

I have found that for my area Craigslist works the best. I also try to make sales by word of mouth, networking, Facebook groups, and referrals. I try to get word out in as many places that I can. The further I can cast out my info the better I feel about getting my products sold.

I do make sales from word of mouth, networking, and referrals, but those sales are random and hard to rely on. The Facebook groups I list my pigs on are almost worthless, but fun to watch. The other members of those Facebook groups act like vultures waiting for the unsuspecting person that undervalues his pigs. They latch on to posts to watch. Maybe they are trying to learn, but I have never had a serious inquiry from one of my Facebook posts.

I have sold almost all of my pigs from ads on Craigslist. I post my ads in three local markets as soon as I know how many piglets I have to sell. I advertise them up to three weeks before I wean them. My goal is to have every piglet spoken for before I wean them, the longer you feed them the more money you lose. If you have them listed for sale before you wean them, you are less likely to be anxious to make a sale and less likely to take a lessor offer.

If you have litters planned, but not yet on the ground, don’t be afraid to advertise. Building a reservation list for feeder pigs, gives you a stand-by market. Working off of a reservation list gives your pigs a built in appearance of high demand. The appearance of high demand gives the buyer confidence to purchase and makes them less likely to try to dicker on price. Soon you will be working off of a reservation list because you can’t keep up with the demand.

Good Luck!!


 

 

Selling Litters of Pigs

You had a litter of pigs, now how can you profit from them? they have to generate income for your farm to thrive. Your goal should not be to break even or much worse lose money. Here are 4 considerations for making a profit on your new litters.

1. You must know your expenses. What does it cost to keep the sow and boar? Your sale price of the litters  must cover the expenses of: feed, wormer, bedding, housing, electric for lights and waterers, marketing costs, and any transportation costs.

2. Your sales must exceed your expense. You now should have a grasp on the amount of your expenses. Divide that amount by the number of litters you plan to have and add on your profit margin. That amount can be divided by the number of pigs in the litter to arrive at the selling price of each piglet.

3.  Different areas of the country vary on what a weaned pig is normally sold for. Don’t hesitate to advertise yours for more than the normal. Chances are the lowball sellers are loosing money and won’t be around long as competition. If you start advertising yours for what they are worth, the market in your area will reconsider their prices as well, and move closer to yours.

4. If you plan to make money on raising livestock, plan to invest in quality breeding stock. You will not be able to ask top dollar for a low quality product. Having high quality animals will set you apart from others, and your asking (a price that will allow you to be profitable) will no longer be questioned.

Good luck!