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Small Butcher to Meat Mogul | August 2022

by Cheryl Kepes

Photos courtesy Meats by Linz

Angus cattle play pivotal role in the success of Meats by Linz and Linz Heritage Angus.

Martin Linz put his entrepreneurial chops to the test and opened a small neighborhood butcher shop on the southside of Chicago in 1963. In the decades to follow, the corner butcher shop would grow and transform into one of the country’s premier meat purveyors, supplying the finest quality beef to steakhouses, hotels, and casinos around the world.

As the business thrived, the Linz family strived to ensure their customers consistently received exceptionally high-quality steaks. Their clients, chefs from renowned restaurants spanning from the heart of Chicago to the streets of Hong Kong, required (and still insist upon) constant excellence in meat quality.

Controlling Consistency

The Linz family decided the best solution to regulating consistency and quality was to control their own supply. What better way to guarantee excellence than to raise the beef themselves? Thus, Linz Heritage Angus (LHA) was established. The ranch relies on proven Angus genetics to produce top-notch beef with abundant marbling.

In 2012, the operation became fully integrated, giving Meats by Linz the ability to produce its own product from conception to plate. “Being that we service some of the top white tablecloth restaurants throughout the world, having as much control of our raw materials is very important to us,” Fred Linz, CEO and owner of Meats by Linz and Linz Heritage Angus, said. “It gives us the ability to produce a consistently high-quality product day in and day out.”

The company relies on several factors to achieve quality and consistency. Meats by Linz selects its own breeding matings, feeds the cattle in its own feedlot, harvests the animals, ages the carcasses, and cuts the carcasses.

Producing Quality Beef

Keeping up with the demand for high-quality beef is quite a tall order. The business requires as many as 4,500 head a week to meet the needs of all its customers. Linz Heritage Angus operates commercial and registered Angus herds with the ultimate goal of producing high-grading, efficient cattle.

The original Linz Heritage Angus ranch is in Crown Point, Ind. Through the years, Linz Heritage Angus has implemented AI and embryo transfer to build its seedstock operation. Ranch managers also travel worldwide to locate superior genetics to add to the herd. The ranch utilizes numerous cow families and sire groups to build a registered herd that looks good in the pasture and on the plate.

Linz Heritage Angus breeds for balance focusing on phenotype with moderate carcass traits. “We look for phenotype first. Good feet and udders are also very important to us,” Linz explained. “Once we have the look, then we look at maternal traits, and then we look at carcass.” The Linz Heritage Angus herd serves as a source of functional bulls for commercial and seedstock cattle producers throughout the country.

Expanding Operations

Now in its fourth generation of Linz family operation, Meats by Linz continues to expand its business to meet the needs of its clientele. Through the years, Linz Heritage Angus has grown its commercial herd and registered programs.

This past winter the Linz family purchased a 5,000-acre ranch in Byars, Okla., to have more space to grow the registered herd. The Oklahoma ranch will give Linz Heritage Angus the ability to continue to expand its donor pen and sire battery. The company also recently broke ground on a new 120,000-square foot state-of-the-art processing facility in Hammond, Ind.

Buyback Program

The company implemented a calf buyback program four years ago for its cattle customers. The calf buyback program bridges the gap between the Linz Heritage Angus genetic herd and Meats by Linz. Cattle eligible for the buyback program must meet several strict requirements, including being sired via AI or natural cover by a registered Linz Heritage Angus bull or son of a registered Linz Heritage Angus bull.

The calf buyback program allows the company to supply large quantities of cattle sired by Linz registered Angus bulls to Meats by Linz customers, while simultaneously benefiting Linz Heritage Angus’ commercial cattle partners. As more cow/calf partners use Linz sires and participate in the calf buyback program, the more genetically verified Linz Heritage Angus beef is available.

“The buyback is important to our program for a variety of reasons. One, it allows us to feed and harvest calves from our genetics. Two, it gives us the opportunity to collect carcass information from the harvesting facility so we can give that information back to the producer. We want our producers to know how good or bad their animals performed on the rail. Three, the buyback program also provides our conception to plate story,” Linz shared.

Buy-in Program

Part of the operation’s story includes its buy-in program with fine dining establishments. Meats by Linz is the first meat purveyor in the country to collaborate with legendary steakhouses on the breeding of cattle used in their restaurants. In some cases, the steakhouses partner with the Linz operations to purchase Angus bulls with superior genetics.

Several years ago, Meats by Linz teamed up with two steakhouses; Manny’s in Minneapolis and St. Elmo’s in Indianapolis, to purchase the Angus bull, RB American Made 197. Meats by Linz prides itself in its relationships with customers and its conception to plate operation.

Following Feeder Calves

The company follows its feeder calves through the entire process. Meats by Linz runs its own facility for custom cutting, as well as wet and dry-aging. Meats by Linz operates facilities in Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Atlanta as distribution and export sites for its product. Though most sales are to wholesalers, individuals can order Meats by Linz products to be shipped to their doors.

Production Sale

Linz Heritage Angus will host its 6th annual female sale on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, September 2nd. They will be offering 70 lots of some of their core genetics built within their program. Some of the final direct daughters from RB Lady Denver 167-453 will be in the upcoming sale. The bull sale will be held in Oklahoma at the end of January 2023.

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