Buying a side of beef, whether it’s a quarter, half or whole animal, can be an economical way of filling the freezer and supporting local farmers. However the whole process can be a little confusing for any first time customer. So here’s a detailed explanation of how it works!
The first stage of processing is called “Live Weight” (also known as “on the hoof”, or “hoof weight”)
It’s just as it says, the live weight of the animal before processing. This is the least commonly used method with direct to market meat sales because most farmers don’t have scales on the property, such as our farm, (or the desire to load a 1200 pound animal into the chute to try and weigh them). This weight measurement may also calculate in shrink. Shrink is what the industry refers to as the amount of weight the animal loses through natural processes during handling and transportation to the processing facility. If the animal was to be weighed before shrink, the customer would be paying for hoof weight that has already “exited the body”.
The next stage of processing is called the “Hanging Weight” (also known as “on the rail”)
This refers to the weight of the beef as it hangs in the butcher’s cooler once the head, hide, feet, organs and blood are removed. Since most every butcher bases the processing fees on the hanging weight, it is the most widely used measurement by direct to market farmers. This is the weight measurement we use when selling a side of beef.
The final stage is called the “Cut & Wrap Yield” (also known as “package weight”)
This refers to the actual weight of all the packages of individual cuts of meat that you will put in your freezer. When the carcass is broken down into recognizable cuts, there is some loss when cuts are deboned and fat is trimmed away. The carcass yield will also depend on the types of cuts you selected for your side (especially the amount of boneless cuts you choose).
During each step of processing, some weight is lost. It is very important to keep this fact in mind when trying to calculate exactly how much meat your share contains. When figuring out the cost of a quarter, half or whole side of beef, we take the Hanging Weight provided to us by the butcher and multiply it by the current price per pound.
If you are at all interested in purchasing a quarter, half or whole animal we are currently booking into mid to late September, so let us know!