Guide To Buying A Side Of Beef
When you buy a side of beef you are buying, essentially, in bulk. Think about how many items we buy in bulk nowadays with the advent of Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and CostCo. Buying a side of beef is a very economical way to purchase meat.
Purchasing a side of beef isn't an intimidating process. We have standing appointments at the processor throughout the year. Once we confirm your order, we give the processor your contact name and number so they can call you and discuss specific cutting and packaging instructions. They will help you through the process and help you decide what cuts you can get. Some customers, like ourselves, just tell the processor what they want most, then second most, etc. So, if you know you want a lot of ground beef, a few roasts and a couple steaks they will help figure out how many pounds of each you can get. Once the meat is ready, you will need to pick it up at the processor. We use processors in Chadwick, IL and Seward, IL.
We figure weight based on hanging weight, which is also known as butcher weight. This is the weight of the animal without any unusable parts. So, the skin, head, non usable organs, and hooves are removed and the carcass is split down the middle and weighed, giving the processor (or butcher) a “hanging” weight. So, essentially you are not paying for any unusable parts of the beef.
After hanging weight is cut, the carcass hangs in a cooler to age and cure for 10 days up to two weeks. While it is hanging, it begins to lose additional moisture called shrink, which affects weight. In addition, depending on your cutting instructions there is fat and bone removed during the cutting process. For example, if you want your ground beef on the lean side they will remove fat. This affects take-home weight.
Traditionally, when you buy meat from a farmer in this manner, the price is set based on hanging weight. This is because, as noted above, the actual take-home weight can vary based of a number of factors all of which are not a function of the animal being sold. So, when you purchase meat from a farmer you are paying that farmer for the safe transport of a live animal to a USDA-inspected facility where it will be cut into sides, or hanging weight, and what its potential can be to the butcher or processor who is acting as your butcher. The actual take-home weight comes from the butcher or processor based on your specifications for cutting and packaging the meat that you want to take home.
Costs vary depending on how much you are purchasing, but are less than $2.50/lb. All beef orders require a deposit and any balance remaining must be paid before the meat is picked up at the processor. Processing is paid separately and directly to the processor when you pick it up. It ranges from $0.55 - $0.75 cents/lb depending on processor and how fancy your cuts are. There is no farm pick-up. We are responsible for getting the animal to the processor. After that, the processor is responsible for cutting and packaging. Please contact us for our current pricing. We would be happy to answer any questions.
Wholes typically have a hanging weight of 800 - 1000 lbs. This typically yields between 480 - 600 lbs. of finished take home cuts.
Halves typically have a hanging weight of 400 - 500 lbs. This typically yields between 220 - 300 lbs. of finished take home cuts.
Quarters typically have a hanging weight of 200 - 250 lbs. This typically yields between 110 - 150 lbs. of finished take home cuts.
While the cuts and packaging is completely up to you here's a sample order from a quarter.
33 – 1.5lb/each pkg Ground Beef
1 – Prime Rib to serve 10 people during a holiday meal
2 – Beef Tenderloins
4 – Sirloin Steaks
6 – Round Steaks
9 – New York Strip Steaks
5 – Stew Meat packages
2 – Soup Bones
5 – Chuck Roasts
2 – Beef Arm Roasts
2 – Sirloin Tip Roasts
1 – Rump Roast
With the exception of the Prime Rib holiday meal, this served two adults approximately 75 meals. They re-ordered another quarter approximately one year to-the-date.
If you still need help, that's ok. Our processors are great at helping our customers get the cuts they want. Even if you only specify an order or importance such as, “I want mainly ground beef, a few roasts, and a couple steaks” they can take it from there and help you determine what's best for your quarter, half or whole order.
To make it fair for everyone, you will get some of the front and some of the back of the animal.