Our most frequently asked questions are these:
"How much does a half (or quarter) of beef cost?"
"How much meat will I actually take home?"
Well, very honestly and quite frankly, there are no exact answers to those questions.
Why? Because of the following unavoidable and inevitable reasons:
•Each individual animal is built differently! Each may have differing degrees of muscle, fat,
•Meat can be closely trimmed or left with some fat on. Cutting differences and fat content
affect quality, cooking methods, and taste.
•Meat can be boneless or bone-in. This will make a difference in the weight and amount of
meat you put in your freezer.
When sold by the carcass (whether whole, half, or quarter), the price of bulk beef is determined by the dressed weight. (Often called "hanging weight".)
Weight loss during slaughter and processing of meat from live animals to table-ready cuts is
both necessary and normal. The purchaser needs to be aware of and know the difference between these three important terms: Live weight, dressed (or hanging) weight, and table
ready weight. The following is my attempt to explain these terms:
First, slaughtering removes blood, hide, and inedible parts from the animal. In beef, it will
account for an average loss of slightly less than half the original live weight of the animal.
Beef Yield Percentages from Live to Dressed Weight: 53% - 62% of live weight.
EXAMPLE: If your steer weighs 1,000 lbs. live, it will weigh from 530 - 620 lbs. dressed.
(53%-62% of live weight)
Second, processing (the work of the butcher) is the cutting of the dressed meat into ready-
to-cook portions (table ready). It accounts for another loss in weight as excess fat and bone
are trimmed away. Not only does trimming make meat more appetizing, but it also eliminates extra storage space and further kitchen preparation.
Beef Yield Percentage form Dressed to Table-Ready: 50% -65% of dressed weight.
EXAMPLE: If the live weight of your steer was 1,000 lbs,
and the dressed weight was between 530 and 620 lbs.,
then your table-ready weight would be between 265 and 403 lbs.
In short, a beef carcass isn't all eating meat...you must expect weight loss!
This explanation is based on information from National Live Stock & Meat Board and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service