Pasture to Plate
How Can One Beef Have Three Different Weights?
- LIVE WEIGHT: Estimate 825 - 925 pounds.
This is an estimate of the final finished weight (also called "on the hoof") of our beef when they are live in the pasture ready to be harvested. Individual animals vary and this could be up to 200 pounds more or less than the estimate.
- HANGING WEIGHT: Estimate 495 - 555 pounds.
Hanging weight is approximately 60% of the animal’s live weight. The official Hanging Weight is determined by the USDA on each individual animal. It is the weight of the carcass after the hide, head, feet and internal organs have been removed and it is “hanging” on the hook. In our estimate of a 825 – 925 pound animal the hanging weight would be 495 to 555 pounds.
- CUT, PACKAGED OR DRESSED WEIGHT: Estimate 330 - 370 pounds.
This is the weight of the meat that you put into your freezer. Cut, packaged or dressed weight is the weight of the carcass after the natural shrinkage from moisture lost during the dry aging process, and the removal of large bones and excess fat during the cut and wrap process. If you add up the total weight of all the individual cuts of beef (steaks, roasts, ribs, ground beef, etc.) you receive, this is the packaged weight. Choice of cuts will also affect the final take home packaged weight (choice of bone-in/out etc.).
Packaged or dressed weight can be estimated in either of two ways
- Packaged weight = live weight x 40%. So 825 lbs. x 40% = 330 packaged pounds and 925 lbs. x 40% = 370 packaged pounds.
- Packaged weight = hanging weight x 66.66 %. So 495 lbs. x 66.66% = 329.67 packaged pounds and 555 lbs. x 66.66% = 369.63 packaged lbs.
How Am I Charged?
If you are buying a Whole, Half or Quarter of an animal, you will be charged the per pound price based on the Hanging Weight. A Whole animal with a hanging weight of 500 pounds x $6.49 per pound is $3,245.00 dollars. With an estimated yield of 333 pounds your average cost is $ 9.74 per pound packaged of meat. Remember, this includes all the prime cuts of meat! Rib Eye Steaks, New York Steaks, Tenderloin Steaks are $9.74 per pound.
A Quarter of Beef will actually be a split Half (also sometimes called a “Side”) which means the cuts are divided evenly from the front or fore Quarter and the hind Quarter so each customer gets a full selection of beef cuts.
Please remember these are ESTIMATES and AVERAGES! Individual animals will vary.
- Quarter: A Quarter of Beef requires about 4 cubic feet of freezer space.
- Half: A Half a Beef needs about 8 cubic feet of freezer space.
- Whole: You should plan for at least 16-17 cubic feet of freezer space for a Whole Beef.
These size recommendations will vary a bit with the freezer design – chest vs. upright. Freezer space requirements can also vary with the choice of cuts and packaged weights.
Cuts of Beef
There are eight basic cuts of beef. Whether the meat is very tender or more tough depends on a couple of factors, including what breed the animal is – ours are Aberdeen "Lowline" Angus which are very tender finished on grass – and which part of the animal the meat came from, and of course how they are prepared. If the muscle was used more, the meat is going to be tougher, however it also means it will have great flavor. The cuts from areas on the animal which receive a lot of use are the ones by the shoulders and legs, the chuck and round. If the muscle was used less, the meat will naturally be more tender. This includes meat in the center of the animal, such as the loin, rib and flank.
There are many names given for the various cuts of beef. Here are some common ones:
- Chuck: can be divided into roasts and steaks. Some common names for roasts are chuck arm roast, chuck shoulder, pot roast, chuck 7-bone pot roast, cross rib roast and chuck-eye roast. The chuck cut of meat can also be cut into steaks. There are many names for the cuts of steak. Some of these are boneless top blade steak, boneless shoulder steak, chuck arm steak, boneless chuck-eye steak, chuck mock tender steak and chuck 7-bone steak. Chuck is also usually used for ground beef because it is very flavorful.
- Rib: cut is one of the center cuts of beef. There are roast cuts called rib roast and rib eye roast. The steak cuts can be found by the names rib eye steak, boneless rib steak and rib steak.
- Short Loin: located in the center of the animal, has one cut of roast called tenderloin roast. The steak cuts are T-bone steak, porterhouse, tenderloin steak, filet mignon, boneless top loin steak, strip steak and bone-in top loin steak.
- Sirloin: located near the back of the animal, can be cut into tri-tip roast. The steak cuts include sirloin steak, top sirloin cap steak and tri-tip steak.
- Round: is at the back of the animal. There are various roast names for this cut, including rump roast, bottom round roast, eye round roast, round tip roast and tip roast. Steaks from this cut are round steak, round tip steak, ball tip steak, beef sirloin tip steak and top round or London broil.
- Brisket: the cuts on the lower, front (or fore) part of the animal include the shank and brisket.
- Plate: the plate is also on the lower part of the animal in the center. The cuts are are called skirt or hanger steak and can also be used for fajita meat.
- Flank: the last cut is the flank which is located on the lower belly area. Usually cut as flank steaks which are very flavorful and contain very little fat.
The Round Up
This is really a quick summary of buying beef in bulk - hopefully you have a better understanding of the process. If you have questions, we would be glad to answer them for you. Leave a comment below or give us a call at 360.873.4507 and we'll help you through the steps to getting a freezer full of delicious, nutritious grass fed beef for your family.