~courtesy of The Scranton Journal
Kaitlin and Jared Dahl took over the operation of the locker in Bagley on April 1. They’re experienced in the meat business, as both worked at the facility for several years. It’s now known as Dahl’s Custom Meat Locker.
“We had the opportunity to take over the operation,” explained Kaitlin. “It’s a good way for us to stay involved in agriculture and give back to the community.”
Kaitlin headed the poultry processing at the locker for a couple years. She estimates they dressed about 4,000 chickens and turkeys last year with a maximum of 600 in one day. The poultry business is brisk throughout the summer, working every other Tuesday now through the end of October.
The business is a custom locker, which means it butchers animals for the customer as they request. In addition to the usual cattle and hogs, they also handle goats, sheep, elk and deer. They plan to continue working with hunters and the state of Iowa in the HUSH program.
“Anything with four legs, we’ll butcher it,” said Jared.
The couple purchases meat from the Arcadia Locker for retail sales. In addition to hamburger and pork burgers, they have several flavors of bratwurst. They are developing new varieties of bratwurst and are open to suggestions from their customers.
“If a customer has a unique or crazy idea, we’re willing to try it,” stressed Kaitlin. “If it’s within our specifications, we’ll give it a shot. We’re here to cater to the customers. They’re the ones who will make or break us.”
The business is open from 8 am to 4 pm Monday throughThursday. Other times are available by appointment. Of course, they respond to emergency calls that occur after hours and on weekends from their home in rural Greene County. They have locker space available for rent. Five people are employed part time at the business.
The locker was recently inspected and certified through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). It also passed a water certification test with amounts of manganese under the limit.
Jared explained that deer processing is always custom. Whether it be steaks, ground meat, jerky or sticks, they will prepare the meat to the customer’s specifications.
Meat is cured on site in a large smoker. It takes two weeks for beef to be ready while pork is normally done in a week, but curing hams and bacon takes an extra week. The meat is packaged per the customer’s instructions and then frozen.
They welcome new customers. The Dahls look forward to working with 4-H and FFA groups and are excited to support the Guthrie, Greene, Carroll and Audubon County Fairs this summer.
“We’ve been keeping very busy so far,” added Kaitlin. “We’ve learned a lot in a month. Please stop in. We want to meet new people and explain how the process works.”