Most people will purchase meat at a local grocery store so they can have what they need to prepare dinner for that week.
Chances are meat is one of the most expensive items on your list.
However, for most people, it is also an essential part of a balanced diet.
If you have a large family and you go through a lot of meat, there are times when it could make sense for you to purchase a cow.
If you are thinking of purchasing an entire cow from a butcher or raising one yourself, you will want to understand how much meat you can get from this cow.
Of course, the size of the cow is going to vary, and there will be different amounts of food recovered from each cow, but let’s take a look at some of the averages.
How Much Meat Does A Cow Yield?
A typical 1,200-pound cow is going to yield about 500 pounds in useable beef.
When you are weighing a cow to determine the amount of beef that you can get, some other measurements will come into play.
When the cow is killed, the weight of the carcass will be measured.
This is the weight before removing the fat and the bones from the main carcass of the cow.
For a 1,200-pound cow, the weight of this carcass will be around 700 to 800 pounds.
If you purchase a whole cow, you can expect to be told that you will be getting a 700- to 800-pound carcass.
However, this is not the total amount of beef that you will have to work with.
Once the cow is butchered, you will quickly see that hundreds of pounds are lost.
There will be about 150 pounds of fat trimmed from the meat.
Of course, a great butcher will leave some fat on the meat to help it taste better when cooking, but there is a good amount that is not useable.
In addition, you will find that there are about 100 pounds of bone that will need to be removed from the carcass as well.
This will result in about 500 pounds of beef.
Although 500 pounds of beef is quite a bit, you can see that it is less than half of the original weight of the cow.
Many people wonder what 500 pounds of meat will look like and how it will be divided.
Of course, this will vary a bit based on the type of butcher you use and the age and size of the cow.
However, let’s look at some of the basic breakdowns of what an entire cow will look like when you break down the different cuts of meat.
Breakdown Of Meat From One Cow
As you can imagine, the majority of meat that you will get from a cow is going to be ground beef.
This is what we see the most of and why ground beef is typically the least expensive cut when you are purchasing meat in the grocery store.
The amount of ground beef that one cow can produce is quite impressive.
If we are looking at the same 1,200-pound cow from our example above, you will get about 175 to 190 pounds of ground beef.
In addition, there will be 85 pounds of round roasts and steak and 90 pounds of chuck roasts and steaks.
Each of these cuts can be good, depending on the type of meal that you are making.
If you are a fan of ribs, there will be about 80 pounds of rib meat and loin steaks from this cow.
Lastly, there will be an additional 50 pounds or so of additional cuts like flank or skirt steak.
Again, this will depend on the exact cow, and it will vary from one cow you purchase to another.
For one family to buy a cow would mean consuming a considerable amount of meat.
Having to store all of this meat may be quite difficult.
If you are interested in heading down the road of purchasing a cow, you might be happy to learn that there are opportunities to purchase just parts of a cow.
You can buy half a cow, a quarter cow, or even a 16th of a cow.
Understanding what you get from these different purchases will help you determine whether or not this is a smart choice for your household.
How Much Meat Do You Get From A Quarter Cow?
A quarter cow seems to be one of the most popular choices for people who choose to buy meat this way.
The quarter cow tends to be a more affordable option but still provides a family with plenty of meat for a good period of time.
Many local farms offer a quarter cow package.
You will have to check and see if the package price includes the butchering or if that will be an additional charge.
Usually, if you are purchasing just a quarter of the cow, the charges to have the cow butchered and packaged will be considerably less than you might imagine.
Typically speaking, you can expect a quarter cow to yield around 100 pounds of beef.
If the cow is really large, it could be closer to 125 pounds of beef.
Some farmers are going to give you an exact amount of meat for a specific price, and others will charge you based on the size of the cow.
If you are trying to stay within a budget, always choose a package that gives you an exact amount of meat, so you know what to expect.
With the 100 or so pounds of beef that you get from a quarter cow, you will get about 50 pounds of ground beef.
The other part of the package is going to have all different types of cuts.
Although each cow is unique, you are going to get about 60 pounds of other cuts.
Most of the time, it will be packaged where you get about seven strip steaks, six filets, seven ribeye steaks, five sirloin, five roasts, some stew meat, short ribs, liver, and brisket.
Most butchers are going to give you some bones to make sure that you will be able to make beef stock as well.
Overall, you will have to make sure you are clear about what you are getting and what you expect to get from the package.
Sometimes with a quarter cow, you will have to claim certain things since this will be split between four people.
Overall, you will find that the quarter cow gives you meat for quite some time and is an excellent choice for those who have a family.
How Is The Meat Packaged When Buying A Cow?
When you buy a cow, the meat is going to be packaged in a variety of ways.
Most of the time, you will have your choice of how your meat will be packaged.
The typical choice for many butchers is to use paper.
This will be the cheapest price that you will see because the paper costs are very low.
However, if you are purchasing a large amount of meat, like a quarter cow, then you should really consider a different type of packaging method.
Chances are you are going to have to freeze this meat for quite some time.
If you don’t have it adequately prepared for the freezer, the quality and condition of the meat will decrease considerably.
The best choice for easy storage in the freezer is to get the meat vacuum sealed.
The vacuum sealer helps to preserve the quality of the meat.
It is also very easy to put this meat into the freezer as soon as you receive it.
Most of the time, the ground beef will be put into one-pound packages so you can pull them out as needed and prepare a quick meal.
The meat will likely stay very fresh, and you could end up saving money in the long run because of the price you are getting when you buy in bulk.
When you walk into a grocery store for steaks, you will have no idea if they are on sale that week or if you are going to be paying premium prices.
At least when you purchase the cow in this way, the amount you pay per pound will be much more consistent.
How Long Will The Meat Last In A Freezer?
When you purchase a large amount of meat at one time, you are going to need to have plenty of room in your freezer.
The meat cannot safely be stored in your refrigerator for more than a week, so it needs to be frozen.
It’s best to choose a deep freezer of some kind so that the meat will stay preserved at a very low temperature.
These freezers are good if they are not part of your typical household freezer.
The reason is you will keep this freezer closed most of the time.
This makes it easy to keep the meat cold and not have to continually adjust the temperature on it.
If you put meat in your refrigerator freezer, it will constantly be getting cooler and warmer.
This is from people reaching in and grabbing things like ice, waffles, frozen pizza, etc.
If you are going to spend the money to purchase a full or partial cow, you should invest in a great freezer to keep it in.
If you have the freezer in place, you are going to be able to use it to keep the meat for about twelve months.
Twelve months is about the limit that you will want to set for using the entire cow.
If you think that you will struggle to use the meat in this period of time, ensure that you buy a smaller cow or split this package with a friend.
Many people will get together with a few families and purchase a cow together.
Each person pays just for the portion their family needs, and it is a great way to save money.
You may need to contact your local farmers to see if there are certain times of the year when you can purchase a cow.
Some will have to wait until they have the proper supply, and this could take a while.
Try to figure out a meal plan for a month and see how much meat you use.
Then calculate how much you could use in six months or a year.
This should give you a better idea of the size of the cow that you need to purchase to feed your family.
Is It Cheaper To Buy A Cow Or Buy Meat In The Grocery Store?
Now that you know how much meat a cow yields, it’s a good idea to see if this is a smart financial investment for you.
The interesting thing about this is that if you look only at the ground beef prices, you may think you are paying more than you would in a grocery store.
However, you must be careful that you are comparing the right things.
On average, and this number will depend on the farm and your location, you can expect to pay around $7 a pound for meat from a farm.
The beef that you find in the grocery store can be anywhere from $5 to $8 per pound for ground beef.
However, when you purchase a cow, you should be comparing it to grass-fed organic beef.
This is typically how the beef is sold when you are getting it directly from the farmer.
Therefore, you will probably break even or come out a little behind on the ground beef.
However, on the steaks and roasts, you will notice the big differences.
Your price will still be around $7 per pound, but the grocery store pricing is usually $18 per pound or more.
This is a significant savings.
The savings continue to increase when you consider the filet cuts and even something like a flank steak or a strip steak.
Always remember that ground beef is the largest portion of the meat that you get when you purchase a cow.
You can easily do some math to ensure that this is going to be a good fit for your budget.
If you are smart about the way that you purchase, you will end up with some great meat at a very fair price.
Hopefully, you now feel as though you can estimate the proper amount of meat that a cow will yield.
Purchasing meat in bulk is becoming more and more popular.
Farmers enjoy selling this way because they can avoid the middleman and keep a bit more money for themselves.
In addition, you will get higher quality meat at a more reasonable price.
When you purchase a cow, always take a look at how the cuts of meat are distributed and which ones are going to be part of your package.
You will want to ensure that you have the proper cuts that you need and that you will be able to use them all in the course of a year.
This is undoubtedly not meat that you are going to want to waste as the quality and the taste will be too good not to use.