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Western Meat School

Go From a Price Taker to a Price Maker

If you'd like to grow and scale your meat business, then this online meat business training program is designed for you! Over 1,000 people have now taken the Western Meat School, which is a testament to its content, accessibility, and timeliness.

Going It Alone Is Harder Than Ever
Whether you're a livestock producer, meat processor, distributor, or retailer the business of meat selling has reached a new level of frustration and opportunity.
This online training program created by the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network of OSU, along with project partners, can help you sidestep the common frustrations and help you stand out and thrive.
Over the course of eight weeks, you will learn proven techniques to:
  • Produce and finish the tastiest livestock (emphasis on cattle, sheep and pigs).
  • Understand your customer base and learn how to speak to them.
  • Collaborate with your processor to break down and merchandise your carcasses in the best way.
  • Improve profitability and lower costs and risks.
In short, this meat business training program is an innovative and unique learning experience that will teach you how to successfully market and sell your meat products.

Learn the business side of meat producing and selling from the experts

Avoid the common (and pricey) pitfalls and common mistakes by having direct access to the experts.

You’ll learn all the essentials for direct marketing niche meat from experts in production, marketing, processing and pricing and how to sell in multiple market channels. 

In addition to all of the course materials (live interactive presentations, recordings, slides, and handouts), you'll also be able to chat and pose questions to your instructors and classmates and you'll have rare access to the entire project team for up to six months after signing up.

PAST STUDENT REVIEW: “I'm a forever champion for this course. The perspectives, insight, and recommendations will help me to refine my thought process and enhance my business model. The networking, even though it was virtual, was outstanding and the resources provided were absolutely wonderful!” 


Online Meat Course Overview

Over eight weeks of lectures, you will learn:

  • Week of October 11
    Marketing: Start with the marketing in mind. Learn how to identify and develop new markets for meat.
  • Week of October 18
    Production: Finishing ruminants for optimal gains and quality meat, including grass-finishing, pasture-finishing and alternative feeds.
  • Week of October 25
    Management: Adapting your operation to a changing environment and preparing to weather short to long term disruptions.
  • Week of November 1
    Handling and Harvesting: Animal handling, meat quality and evaluating life animals. Hoof to rail demonstration part 1.
  • Week of November 8
    Processing: Basics of meat processing, carcass quality, meat science, fabrication, regulations and how to work with your processor. Hoof to rail demonstration part 2.
  • Week of November 15
    Processing and Packaging: Processing for specific markets, maximizing carcass value, and packing and labeling.
  • Week of November 29
    Marketing: Building your brand and educating your customers. Understanding different buyer preferences for meat.
  • Week of December 6
    Costs of Production and Pricing: Learn how to determine your costs of production and develop pricing strategies for your meat products in each market channel.

There will also be an optional pre-recorded class on finishing and marketing hogs for those of you that focus on that species. Other bonus content will be provided as well from previous sessions.

PAST STUDENT REVIEW: "I learned that we need to sell the meat, not the steer. Ultimately, customers want to know why the value of our meat doesn't compare to what is purchased at a store. We need to be knowledgeable about the cuts, where they come from and why consumers are into trends. We need to market to those folks. And this course gave me all of that and more. I loved listening to the panels of producers. The boots on the ground is always the best advice to get. Thank you so much!” 


FREE Meat Business Training Resources

Get started for free and learn from some of our guest experts.

Market Your Beef Business and Sell Meat with Social Media

Social media can be a great way to connect with new customers and cultivate loyal customers for your meat business (or other farm products).

Join Dahlia Dill of Chandler Pond Farm from the Northeast Kingdom as she shares what she has learned about best practices using social media to grow your customer base.

How to Boost Revenue and Lower Costs with Online Sales & Logistics
In this round-table webinar, you'll learn how to start with the end in mind and strategically build in your farm to freezer logistics to successfully build and grow your meat business.

Essential LiveStock Practices from Farm to Slaughterhouse
In this webinar, Dr. Ron Gill of Texas A & M AgriLife Extension and Stockmanship & Stewardship will show you the essential tips (and science) to practice that are humane and preserves good meat quality.

New dates coming soon!
8 weeks
price (2)
Additional Information: View online curriculum

This course is designed for: farmers, ranchers, butchers, meat processors, meat distributors, livestock staff, food truck entrepreneurs and more!

“I greatly enjoyed the Western Meat School. I knew what the topics were but did not realize I would get so much out of it from pricing ideas to production and slaughter. Hearing from other farms and ranches all over the Western US was a huge benefit as they had a variety of experience and knowledge to share. I am ready for Western Meat School 201!”

Meat School Student 1

“I’ve taken other more expensive meat/business classes and personally I felt that what I learned in this course was far more applicable and helpful to what I truly needed, especially for the price. The free resources and knowledgeable speakers helped to deepen my understanding of all aspects of the meat industry. I would definitely be interested in taking more classes like this.”

Meat School Student 2

“The Western Meat School is great for any stage you are at in marketing your animals. As beef producers I felt that the knowledge gained from this class was very helpful to making proper changes in our business to become more profitable and meet the consumer needs at the same time.”

Meat School Student 3

“Being a butcher for over 20 years before I became a producer has given me more insight into the business of meat than the average person. Yet, I learned information about marketing I didn't know and I was also given a different way of looking at breaking down an animal to get more cuts and better yields. I learned more about finishing my animals and I also learned about the live animal handling practices that have been implemented since I was a butcher. All of these items will help me to be more effective, efficient, and hopefully profitable as a producer.”

Meat School Student 4


Rebecca Thistlethwaite

Rebecca is an Extension Specialist and Director of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, housed at Oregon State University. She has a master's degree in International  Agricultural Development from the University of California-Davis and  was formerly co-owner of TLC Ranch, a mid-scale organic pastured poultry  and livestock enterprise in California. She is author of two books on  farming- Farms With a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business (2012) and The New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat (2015).

Nathan Parker

Nathan Parker is an instructor and PhD. candidate in the Dept. of  Animal and Rangeland Sciences at Oregon State University. Additionally, Nathan manages the Clark Meat Science Center, the Department’s USDA-inspected meat science laboratory. The Meat Center serves to facilitate the teaching of meat science principles to students and workshop attendees, engage in meats-related research projects, and meat product development

Dr. Manny Encinias

Dr. Manny Encinias is an animal science professor at Mesalands Community College and formerly a NMSU Extension Beef Specialist for 15 years. He is a 4th generation cattle rancher and also has a cattle management consulting business. He raises and direct market grass-fed cattle under the brand Trilogy Beef. Se  habla español.

Past Students' Work

Take a look at some recent projects our students have created.