A customer recently emailed me after picking up her order… she was curious as to why the “take-home” weight was different from the “hanging” weight.
When it comes to beef weights, there are 3 different ones of which customers should be aware. The first is “live” weight. This is what the animal weighed on the hoof, or when it was alive. The live weight for our Premium summer Angus steers usually averages around 1200 lbs. Jersey steers are usually less, as are heifers.
The next weight is “hanging” weight. This is the weight that the butcher gives us after the animal has been taken back to the butcher shop to hang. The weight difference from live to hanging is from loss of blood, head, hide, hooves, viscera, lungs and heart. The hanging weight is usually about 40% of the live weight. So, a 1200 lb animal would have a hanging weight of 720 lbs (estimated). (A half share would then be 360 lbs, and a 1/4 would be 180 lbs). This is the weight we base our per lb charges on. The butcher also charges cut/wrap fees based on this weight, plus extra if a customer has requested additional bones or organ meats.
The last weight is the “final” or “take-home” weight. This is the weight of the meat that each customer will bring home. This weight is usually about 60-65% of the hanging weight. So for a 180 lb quarter share, the final weight would be about 108-117 lbs (estimated). The 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. Higher fat means more loss. (Our grass-fed beef animals tend to be lower fat, so the loss tends to be closer to 35%.) Also , 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).
What does this mean as far as actually per lb costs? It depends on the per pound price (higher for the Premium Summer Angus beef, lower for the Premium Summer Jersey beef, and Neighborly beef), as well as the cuts that a customer requests. A 180 lb quarter share of beef from us would range from $6.60-8/lb (for final weight). This is about 40 to 60% less than what you would pay if you purchased grass-fed beef by the cut from retail outlets. (My latest research found that ground beef averages about $5/lb, roasts are about $12/lb and premium steaks are about $20/lb).
Hopefully this information is helpful to folks considering buying a beef share. As always, please drop us a line if you have questions!