JANESVILLE —- Phil and Meaghin Vossberg initially purchased eight cows to start a cattle business on their Janesville farm. They named their venture Roaming Ribeyes.
The name came from Meaghin’s mother, but it was all too true of the cattle that started the Vossberg’s business in 2015. The couple didn’t have fences to hold the cattle in the pen.
“We sold those few and realized how easy and simple it was, and we just went from there,” Meaghin said.
Today, nearly 70 cattle roam the pen.
A dusty gravel road, surrounded by sprawling corn fields, leads to the farm west of town. The cows crowded around the grain Meaghin dumped into the feeding trough.
The farm, which belongs to Phil’s parents, is gradually transitioning to his family, but it has been a slow process.
“Asking an old farmer to step down is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do,” Meaghin said.
While the couple expects to own the farm within several years, Phil anticipates his father’s continued involvement around the farm.
Running around barefoot, their son, Logan, attempted to pour grain into a bucket to feed the cattle; their daughter, Lilly, hopped into the pen, Popsicle in hand, to pet the cows. Meaghin said the two children can usually be found outside with the cattle.
“They constantly try to carry buckets,” Meaghin said, “but they’re heavier than they are.”
The Vossbergs purchase their cattle from both private individuals and sale barns.
The cows, depending on the weight they need to reach, are either bottle or grain fed. The Vossbergs also make it a practice to avoid hormones, steroids and unnecessary antibiotics.
“You’re basically giving them a drug to force their body mass to grow rapidly,” Phil said, “and it does alter the quality of the meat.”
The family feeds the cattle grain for consumer’s health benefit, but Phil said grain-fed cattle produce tender meat with a better flavor.
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“We just decided to do what we would want to eat,” Phil said.
Currently, the family commutes from their house in town to the farm. A shed stocked with freezers sits behind their house and serves as a shop for selling ground beef and smoking items like briskets and steaks.
The Vossberg’s sell cuts from all parts of the cow, including the heart, liver and tongue.
The meat sold at their store is state inspected by Winthrop Locker, but for quarter and half cuts, the family goes through Chandler’s Janesville Locker.
Meaghin spends the day at the farm and Phil joins her in the afternoon following his shift at Unverferth Manufacturing Co., in Shell Rock.
The livestock business has been a learning process for the couple, in everything from raising the cows to handling customers and advertising.
“Each year, each day we learn something new,” Meaghin said.
Learning the trends of cattle farming was a component to the Vossberg’s first year of business. With the expectation of sales rising around tax season, the couple was surprised when orders spiked around Christmas, due to freezers being stocked or gift cards and meat packages being gifted for the holidays.
“We thought it’d be a little busy then, but when that month rolled around for the first time — we just got slammed,” Phil said. “We had more orders than we had cattle.”
After raising the cows over a year, the Vossbergs faced the difficult task of taking them to the locker.
“I just love that each cow has its own personality,” Phil said. “(But) it makes it that much harder to take them to the locker.”
Even with the assistance of their children and the provided space on the farm, Phil and Meaghin remain the sole employees.
“I think it’s more of a family thing,” Meaghin said, “but eventually I could see it growing a little more.”