Our story begins in 1872, when Nathan and Sarah Shipley purchased 115 acres of farmland beside Sarah’s family’s farmhouse in Vilas, NC. Since then, the Shipley family has been breeding and raising premium quality beef on the family farm in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. W.E. Shipley, Nathan’s son and R.G.’s father, brought the first registered Hereford bull into NC from Virginia in 1897, walking the bull behind a horse-drawn wagon.
W.E. Shipley, "Mr. Ed” as he was known to many, and his brother Huston had a well-deserved reputation for their farming and livestock expertise. They were both well respected for their knowledge of cattle, and their operations were often featured in the local paper, the Watauga Democrat. At one time they both owned multiple farms in the area, but the old Shipley Farm in Vilas was always a focal point of cattle trading in the agricultural community. The farm featured one of the more modern facilities in the region, including the first cattle scales in or around Watauga County, which any farmers in the area were invited to use.
In 2013, inspired by R.G.’s desire for a new adventure at 101 years old, we ventured out from raising livestock and began producing finished beef – making available to our friends and neighbors the same farm-raised meat we’ve fed our family for years.
Beginning with a commitment to quality, Shipley Farms Beef is free of any added hormones or steroids, to provide you the same safe, clean, and delicious meat that has fed our family for generations. Our meats are never treated with antibiotics except in limited circumstances when medically necessary to treat a temporary illness – just as you do for your children.
Our cattle graze on lush, clover-rich mountain pastures which produces beef with higher levels of nutrients than conventional feedlot beef production. They are supplemented with a vegetable based feed and aged for the best flavor, texture, tenderness, and marbling.
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Great beef starts with great breeding. The Shipley family has a long tradition of raising English breeds of cattle such as Hereford, Angus, South Devon, and Shorthorn – breeds that trace back to the British Isles, brought to America from England and Scotland in the 1800’s. W.E. Shipley pioneered Hereford farming in North Carolina, bringing the first registered stock to the state over 100 years ago. These English breeds aren’t the largest cattle, but are known for providing the best combination of meat quality (tenderness and marbling), efficiency (conversion of grass forage into muscle) ease of care (thriving in cooler climates and calving without assistance)
Not only are the breeds we use important, but also the breeding. Through selective breeding, we raise animals sired by bulls and from cows with specific genetic traits for the best quality beef we can produce, focusing on traits such as body shape and frame, muscle mass, weight gain, and fat content. We even pay attention to animals’ dispositions, as more skittish or irritable animals have more tendency for injury, and even agitation and stress of an animal can negatively affect meat quality. We also use cross-breeding – combining traits of various English breeds can enhance animal quality – what’s referred to as “hybrid vigor.”
Four primary factors make Shipley beef unique:
Breeding and Selection - we select calves for specific preferred traits among traditional English cattle breeds, which are bred by small family farmers we know well
Care and Feeding - our animals eat a primarily grass and forage based diet with a university designed grain supplement
Environment - our cattle spend much or all of their life in a low-stress environment in the cool, lush Appalachian Mountains, and always on pasture, never in confinement
Butchering - our beef is responsibly slaughtered and skillfully butchered by local independent meat processing shops and aged for tenderness and flavor. In our Signature Beef line, every bit of beef is dry aged, even our ground beef
Read more about the Shipley Farm and our farming techniques.
Great beef starts with great breeding. The Shipley family has 147 years of tradition raising English breeds of cattle such as Hereford, Red and Black Angus, and South Devon – breeds that trace back to the British Isles, brought to America from England and Scotland in the 1800’s. W.E. Shipley pioneered Hereford farming in North Carolina, bringing the first registered stock to the state. These English breeds aren’t the largest cattle, but are known for providing the best combination of meat quality (tenderness and marbling), efficiency (conversion of grass forage into muscle), ease of care (thriving in cooler climates), and disposition.
Through selective breeding, we raise animals with specific traits for the best quality beef we can produce. At Shipley Farms we focus on traits such as body shape and frame, muscle mass, weight gain, tenderness and marbling. We even pay attention to animals’ dispositions, as more skittish or irritable animals have more tendency for injury, and even agitation and stress of an animal can negatively affect meat quality.
We raise beef from calves that are sourced from small family farms around the Southern Appalachian Mountain region and surrounding foothills. All of our animals come from farms using the highest animal husbandry and environmental standards, and that adhere to our breeding and feeding standards. The calves are raised outside on pasture, never in a concentrated animal feed operation or feedlot.
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Yes! We do our absolute best to avoid stress throughout all stages of our animals’ lives, from beginning to end. Obviously, stress is bad for the animal, but it also creates toxins that negatively affect the quality of the meat.
Our animals spend their entire lives grazing on lush, clover-rich pastures, eating well and growing at their own natural pace with no confined spaces, just open fields, shady woodlands, and lots of sunshine and fresh water.
Shipley Farms beef is 100% pasture raised, so they feed on all that nature provides and are never fed hormones. Out on pasture they receive a custom grain blend to supplement their diet, giving our cuts a delicious marbling that contributes to the unique flavor.
Cattle are a type of animal known as ruminants - creatures designed to turn low quality forage (grass) into high quality, nutritious fat and protein by fermentation in their digestive system. That’s one reason our cattle are never confined to a feedlot - their primary diet is always grass. This natural diet is aligned with their system and produces meat that is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Only in rare circumstances, when medically necessary. Because our animals finish on pasture with a forage based diet, they face a lower risk of illness so we do not ever feed antibiotics as a precaution or to accelerate weight gain. This is what we mean by“no antibiotics”. Of course, we would use an antibiotic to treat illness and infection if an animal ever needed it. If so, it is used in a controlled manner under the guidance of a veterinarian, only as needed, and we adhere to at least twice the recommended withdrawal period before sending an animal to butchering to be sure any treatment clears their system prior to entering the food chain.
On the other hand, in industrial beef production animals are typically prepared for slaughter in a feedlot environment - what’s called the “finishing” process. A large herd of animals will be confined in a feedlot and fed a heavy grain diet. In this environment, a ruminant animal may be more prone to sickness, and in confinement it’s easier for sickness to spread. Industrial beef producers will often add a low dose of antibiotic to the animals’ daily feed to reduce that risk.
All creatures naturally have hormones, just as humans do, so it’s inaccurate to say “no hormones.” Shipley Farms cattle will never receive any growth stimulants or growth promoting hormones. Most industrial meat production will use synthetic hormones - steroids - to promote more rapid growth and weight gain as a cost saving measure, a practice that we are not critical of as the farming industry generally regards it as safe and helps to economically feed the ever growing global population with farm raised food instead of highly processed and nutritionally deficient manufactured foods. It’s just not the way we’ve ever done it, which is the standard we refer to when we say“no shortcuts”.
No; however, we don’t use any growth hormones or antibiotics. Our animals are raised outside on pasture their entire lives. They are fed a grain that is free from any animal bi-products or hazardous chemicals. We are also selective about the methods of weed and pest control and the fertilization we use, avoiding even some certified organic chemicals that have higher toxicity than we desire.
Yes! Care for the land has been an essential principle to sustaining us for 150 years, and was particularly important to R.G. Shipley Sr., our patriarch who managed this farm for 86 of those years. A vocational agriculture teacher and an early proponent of rotational grazing, R.G. continually used the farm as a kind of teaching and research lab, always looking for ways to improve practices and production in a way that enhanced the long-term health and viability of the farm.
One of the great benefits of a pasture-raised program is the symbiotic relationship between the animals and land - our cattle (along with horses, wild turkeys, and other local creatures) draw nutrients from the grass, and return nutrients to the soil through “natural fertilization,” which in turn feeds the grass. The cattle’s grazing stimulates the plant’s root growth, which helps break up and improve the soil health.
Regularly grazed pasture will over time have much healthier grass and soil than idle grassland, and a well managed grazing program has been shown to be an effective tool in rehabilitating degraded pastures and farmland. Additionally, like a large portion of the world’s grazing land, much of the steep mountain pasture where our cattle live is unsuitable for crop production, so pasture raised livestock is essential to meeting the food demand for a growing global population.
We source exclusively from family farms practicing similar sustainability standards. We know all of our farmers by name and frequently visit them to ensure our high standards never waiver.
From the management of our pastures and land, to the practice of rotational grazing and a current project for restoration of streams and water quality management, and even to the choice of recycled and recyclable packaging materials, we pay careful attention to the long term sustainability of all that we do on the farm.
Simply put, dry-aged beef tastes better. It is a more complicated and expensive process and; therefore, not usually found in grocery stores. Our Signature Beef beef is dry-aged in a temperature and humidity controlled cooler. Moisture in the meat is allowed to escape and evaporate, which concentrates the beef flavor. Additionally, enzymes naturally present in the meat break down the muscle tissue, resulting in improved tenderness, texture, and flavor.
All Shipley Farms meats are individually vacuum sealed in high quality, airtight cryovac packages to lock in freshness and ensure a long shelf life in your freezer. Ground beef and beef patties are vacuum sealed in convenient, one pound packs. All are frozen and packed in an insulated box, frequently with dry ice for delivery direct to your door. All of our beef is USDA inspected.
We ship on Mondays and Tuesdays. At Shipley Farms Beef we hand pack each individual order to ensure that your products are received in optimal condition. Each order is packaged to maintain the appropriate temperature for your beef during shipping, usually with dry ice. All perishable products ship frozen and will arrive frozen or partially frozen. We use sustainable shipping materials wherever possible, including repurposed, recycled, and/or recyclable packaging, wrapping, and insulation.
Orders for Shipley Farms Beef are shipped directly from the farm in Vilas, North Carolina. We typically ship within one or two business days, though we prefer to ship early in the week to ensure your package arrives before the weekend and so we tend to avoid Thursday and Friday shipments. We can give you an estimated delivery date for your address when you place an order. No signature is required for delivery. Please call us directly for special requests or accelerated shipping at (828) 484-1872.
We ship with UPS, and have standard UPS Ground as well as UPS 2nd Day & Next Day Air options. We can reach most of the Central and Eastern time zones within two business days with 2nd Day Air. On the day your order ships, you will receive an email with your package's tracking number. We are unable to deliver to PO and APO/FPO Boxes. Call us for requests for international shipment.
Upon delivery, Shipley Farms frozen meat should be removed from the shipping container and then placed in the refrigerator or freezer. Your shipment may contain dry ice (often dissipated by the time of arrival) to keep products frozen during transit.
If there is any dry ice left in the shipping container, avoid contact with your bare skin. Use gloves or oven mitts to dispose of it or simply leave the dry ice in the container and allow it to dissipate naturally.
It is normal for all of the dry ice to have dissipated by the time you receive your shipment. Your meats should be frozen or chilled when you open the package. Contact us immediately if it is not cold to the touch on arrival.
No, you do not need to be home to sign for your package. It is packed to stay nice and cold for many hours after it arrives. However, you should plan to unpack it and place it in your freezer or fridge as soon as possible. What happens to your package after it is confirmed as delivered by the carrier is your responsibility. Call the Shipley Beef Line you have any concerns (828) 484-1872.
Shipley Farms Beef is vacuumed sealed using Cryovac packaging. When maintained at the appropriate temperature with the packing intact (no holes or tears), the frozen beef will maintain its quality and last for months or years in the freezer.
For best quality, thaw beef in the refrigerator, not at room temperature. Place the frozen package on a plate or tray to catch any juices and place in the refrigerator.
Steaks or ground beef thawed in the refrigerator will take 12 to 24 hours depending on thickness
Small roasts thawed in the refrigerator will take 3 to 5 hours per pound
Large roasts thawed in the refrigerator will take 4 to 7 hours per pound
As long as the beef has not been completely defrosted and it is in its original, unopened packaging, it can be placed in the freezer without any harm to flavor. If your beef has been completely thawed, Shipley Farms does not recommend re-freezing it, as that may affect the texture. Thawed beef can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 12 days in their original packaging.
If you are you curious about the best way to grill a steak, braise a roast, make a delicious stir-fry or how to perfectly brown ground beef, check out the recipes and tutorials on shipleyfarmsbeef.com and Beef, it's What's for Dinner.
Please contact us by email or phone as soon as possible. We always do right by our customers. Our goal is to make sure you enjoy our meat as much as we do.
Given the perishable nature of the product, we cannot accept returns. If there is a problem with your order, we ask that you photograph everything, the box and the contents just as they came out of the box. Call the Shipley Beef Line at 828-484-1872 and email the photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do our best to put it right.
If there is any problem with your order, call the Shipley Beef Line at 828-484-1872.