Buying a 1/4 beef: what we got

I bought our beef from Family Farms Co-op, a group of farms in SW Michigan that practice rotational grazing a la Polyface Farm.  The cattle lead very bovine lives, eating very bovine food, the farms are not too far away and make regular deliveries to our areas, and the quality of the meat is outstanding.

We were charged for 195 lb hanging weight. From that, the cuts we got broke down into:

  • Ground beef: 54 lb
  • Steaks (Delmonico, NY Strip, and “sizzler”): 29 lb
  • Roasts and stew meat (round, rolled arm, swiss steak, stew meat): 45
  • Misc (short ribs, brisket): 9 lb

Total: 137 lb; we lost about 30% of the weight in processing.  I asked for soup bones, and got one knuckle bone and one package of marrow bones. I really, really wanted more bones – stock is one of the chief reasons I buy beef, and you can’t make fabulous stock without some bones in each batch.

So, at $2.95/lb hanging weight, our finished price was about $4.20/lb for all cuts.  My friend Ken’s magnificent spreadsheet tells me these roasts are $3.20/lb, ground is $2.80/lb, and steaks are about $8.30/lb.  I usually pay between $4-5/lb for ground and roasts; steaks  are $10 on sale and more like $13-15/lb regular price.  We don’t generally eat a lot of steak, though.

The bigger problem is…wow, this is a lot of beef! Due to a miscalculation on my part, I vastly underestimated how much space this would take. (I think the hanging weight of our 1/2 pig was about the predicted finished weight of beef – meaning 1/2 a pig puts under 100 lb in the freezer). Whereas a 1/2 pig fit neatly into our 7cf chest freezer and some in the top-of-fridge freezer, with room for a winter’s worth of veggies, this steer takes up all that space…plus most of a large picnic cooler.  UPDATE: I shuffled stuff around and packed things more compactly (if less conveniently) and suddenly, it all fits now, with room to spare! It’s still more meat than 1/2 a pig, but I can actually get it into the chest freezer and top-of-fridge freezer.



  1. September 9, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Wow: 54# ground beef! That’s a whole lotta hamburger, more than 1/3 of your total weight. Did you ask for that much, or was that just what you got? I know Kathy at Just In Case cooks and pressure cans a lot of meat, including ground meat. I suppose that’s an option if you want to free up freezer space. I’d be disappointed in so few bones as well. I’ve stopped buying stocks at the store, so I want every bit of homemade I can get.

    • Emily said,

      September 9, 2011 at 6:34 pm

      This should easily last more than a year, even with my (biologically-necessary) low carb diet.

  2. Eleanor said,

    September 19, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Wow, that is a good deal. Good grass-fed beef usually costs a lot more than that around here, especially for the best steaks.

    • Emily said,

      September 20, 2011 at 8:39 am

      If I’d bought the Delmonico steaks from the same producer, they would have been $13/lb.

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