One of the first question someone asks themselves before buying a large quantity of beef is “how much beef will I get?” That question is usually followed by, “If I buy a half or quarter, what part am I getting? The front half or back half?”
At Carwood Farm, we make it easy for you by giving you an idea of the amount of of beef you’ll get for your freezer**. Of course, we can't give you an exact poundage because cows don't all weigh the same. The “final” or “take-home” weight is the weight of the meat that you will bring home to put in your freezer. This weight is usually about 65 - 70% of the hanging weight. On average a quarter share weighs about 175 pounds so the final weight, after processing, would be about 123 lbs (estimated). During processing, the final weight is lost in 2 ways. About 4% is water weight lost during the 10-14 day period that the carcass is hung (or “cured”). Then about another 30-35% is lost during the cutting process. This amount is variable based on 2 factors – one is the amount of fat in the meat, and the other is the cuts that a customer requests. For example, the more boneless cuts requested by the customer, the lower the final weight. (Note that the lower weight doesn’t mean that you are receiving less meat – rather, you are receiving fewer bones).
If you decide to buy a cow from a farmer, it is good to know approximately what you’ll be taking home before you buy so you can make space in your refrigerator or freezer in advance.
Our best estimates based on almost 3 decades in the beef business:
quarter = 125 lbs, half = 300 lbs, and whole = 600 lbs
**35 lbs. of beef = 1 square foot...So a typical quarter requires about 4 – 5 square feet of freezer space.
Buying a Quarter Cow:
A quarter is a mix of cuts from the front and the back of the steer, so you can get a nice variety of cuts (ground beef, steaks, roasts, etc.).
Buying Half a Cow:
So, what if you buy half a cow? A half cow includes 1/4 from the front and 1/4 from the back of the steer, so you can get a nice variety of cuts (ground beef, steaks, roasts, etc.).
Buying a Whole Cow:
On average, we’ve found that a whole is great for families of three or more that eat beef with four or more meals a week. With a whole, these families save tons of money and have beef for a year. Another great option is to purchase a quarter 4 times a year so you don't need a whole chest freezer for your beef.
You can refer to our meat cuts guide here if you'd like some guidance on how you want your meat processed.