Buying a quarter of a cow

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by johnsmb, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. johnsmb

    johnsmb Well-Known Member

    Apr 15, 2007
    Longview, WA
    This is our first time buying meat this way!! I'm a little nervous and not sure what to expect. We are working with our neighbors and sharing a cow from the field next door. I have no idea what to expect as far as what kind of meat we will get - how it will be wrapped - and amount and cost? All I know so far, is that it will be about $2 per pound - does this sound right? We were told that a whole cow is 800-1,000 pounds - that seems like a lot, is that about right?

    Thanks, Beth.
  2. wvstuck

    wvstuck Mountaineers are free

    Sep 18, 2008
    West Virginia
    Yep seems about right, and you will be eating rib eye steaks for $2 a pound while someone living near you is grilling $8 a pound steak. I have never bought a quarter but I assume you will see some t-bones, rib eyes, some arm roasts, chuck roasts and other assorted roasts along with ground beef and maybe some ribs and if you are real luck a rump roast :p.

    We by a whole young cow every year, this years was 326 pounds cut weight (weighed a lot more standing in the field) @ $1.60 a pound... The meat is so much fresher and more tender than anything store bought, the guy we buy ours from grows his own grain and feeds only grain to his beef. We wouldn't have it any other way. Ours was vacuum packed and sealed in individual packages with the ground beef in tubes 1 to 1.5 pounds per tube and frozen solid when we picked it up.

  3. Janis Sauncy

    Janis Sauncy Well-Known Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Are you getting a front quarter or a hind quarter?
    Or, are you going to split a half?

    The reason I ask is there are certain cuts of meat that are specific to the front and to the hind, i.e., rib steaks come from the front quarter, t-bones from the hind.

    I used to be a meat wrapper for a farm butcher and I often thought, if it were me, instead of getting just the hind quarter or just the front quarter, I'd rather split the half and that way I'd get a little of everything. Some people, though, prefer t-bones over rib steaks and certain roasts over others. If I remember right, I think you end up with more ground beef from the hind quarter (it's been a little while since I was in that line of work and I'm a little fuzzy on the specifics).

    One thing to remember, though, is that 1,000-pound figure is likely the hanging weight. Which means, if you're getting a quarter of that (250 pounds), you will not actually be receiving that much in actual pounds. After trimming and boning, you will most likely lose 1/4 to 1/3 of that (your cut and wrap fees will most likely be based on hanging weight, though). What you end up with will depend on the animal (amount of fat, age, etc.) and also the efficiency of your butcher.

    When you are called for "cutting instructions," you should be asked questions like "how thick do you want your steaks?" (1-inch is a good thickness), how many per package, how big (weight-wise) do you want your roasts, if you want your round steak cubed or not (we often did "half and half), how many pounds per package of ground beef.

    Don't be afraid to ask questions before they get a chance to start cutting on your meat. Once it's cut and wrapped, it's awful hard to change your mind.

    Also, find out ahead of time if that "quarter" is front, hind, or a split of a side. And, find out if you will be responsible for the kill fee. A lot of times, the seller will absorb that cost but it's not uncommon for the buyers to share it. Also, that $2.00 per pound....I suspect that is just what you will be paying the seller and may not include the cut and wrap, which could be an additional 50 or 60 cents a pound. I suggest you find out ahead of time so there"s no confusion after the meat is processed.

    The first time is always scary. Just be sure you ask questions of the person getting your cutting instructions and don't let them try and talk you into something you don't want. It's your meat and will be a pretty sizable monetary investment.

    Good luck.

  4. Marilyn

    Marilyn Well-Known Member Supporter

    Aug 2, 2006
    Hi Beth,
    We just had our first experience with this very issue. My husband's cousin raises pastured beef and I knew that it would be healthier for us. Our situation required a down payment made to his cousin, then the remainder paid to the butcher once they know exactly how much the animal weighed. (Our calf was 700 lbs.) We have had a roast, a T-bone and a pound of gr beef so far and are extremely pleased with the flavor.

    The butcher called me with a list of questions when it was time to pkg. How thick do we want steaks? Do we want soup bones? Do we want the liver? How many steaks to a pkg? Do we want them to shape gr beef into patties, etc.

    Remember when you hear the weight of the cow, it is very different that the weight of the beef that you will get. The finished beef will probably weigh close to one-half that of the entire cow. Hope this helps.
  5. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jun 6, 2004
    Michigan's thumb
    You are probably getting a half of a half, or a mixed quarter. But ask. The hanging weight does not include the organ meat, so you get it for free. Or another way to look at it, you pay for it but you don't get it. anyway, if you want the heart or the liver, speak up or it may be thrown out. Also, if you have dogs, see if the butcher will cut and wrap the stomach for you- offer to pay an additional fee.
  6. Mrs. Homesteader

    Mrs. Homesteader In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    ALso ask if you are paying $2 a pound hanging weight, live weight or actual meat. We just had a cow butchered and the live weight was 1080. Then the hanging weight was 674 pounds. That is without the head, skin, bottom of the legs and gutted. Then the actual meat was probably 35 % lower than that. We sell our beef by the hanging weight because it is the last true weight we get. So, if we sold it for $2 a pound, the meat is actually more than $2 a pound. I try to explain that up front so people are not upset. You might want to ask.
  7. pookshollow

    pookshollow Pook's Hollow

    Aug 22, 2005
    Ontario, Canada
    We bought a mixed quarter this year, for the first time, and couldn't be happier. The butcher walked us through what cuts, how big, etc. When we do it again, I'll ask for more hamburger patties and less packaged hamburger, as we like to barbecue them a lot in the summer.

    We ended up with three rump roasts, two prime rib, sirloin and T-bones, stew and a fair bit of hamburger. It's such good meat, I won't ever buy from the grocery store again.

    I have half a pig (mostly milk-fed) waiting for me to pick up this week - can't wait! :sing:
  8. woodsman

    woodsman Well-Known Member

    Dec 8, 2008
    Stomach for dogs? Tripe is delicious. And then there's pickled tongue and grilled beef heart and liver terrine and ox tail soup and cow foot soup. And some wonder why the country goes to the dogs - that's where it starts... ;)
  9. claytonpiano

    claytonpiano Well-Known Member Supporter

    Feb 2, 2005
    We do this! Absolutely fantastic meat and great price. You'll be glad you did it.
  10. longshadowfarms

    longshadowfarms Well-Known Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Here is an example of the meat that might be in a 1,000 lb live weight steer. Once it is butchered, the hanging weight would be approximately 590 lbs (this is normally the weight your cost is figured from, so yours would be about 1/4 of all that is listed below). From this, you will get approximately 425 lbs of retail cuts. Depending on how you have it cut, you might get: 34 lbs of porterhouse, T-bone and club steaks, 40 lbs of sirloin steaks, 57 lbs of round steak, 36 lbs of rib roast, 16 lbs of boneless rump roast, 110 lbs of chuck roast, 90 lbs of hamburger, 42 lbs of stew meat and miscellaneous cuts. The remaining 165 lbs lost between the hanging weight and the retail cut weights are bones, fat and other waste. You can get some of this back in soup bones and suet.

    Here's a list of charts that shows what cuts come from each section. If you look at those you'll see why you want a split quarter, not just a front quarter. The better cuts are in the rear.
  11. Macybaby

    Macybaby I love South Dakota Supporter

    Jun 15, 2006
    South Dakota
    Last summer I bought a mixed quarter (split it with a coworker, another coworker's family raised it). Paid right around $2 a lb hanging and it worked out to right around $3 a lb finished.

    We have a lot of the lesser roasts ground, as we just don't eat them much. Seems we eat steak or hotdish type meals. Dh is not a "meat and potato" type guy, but does love a good steak. Most of the roasts end up in the crock pot, and then every scrap gets eaten. I'm thinking of taking some of the roasts out and making jerky.

    We bought the last one in June, and I made the mistake of not looking for myself when DH told me we were getting low. We had bought a quarter the fall before, and still had about half that left, so we weren't exactly "getting low". In fact, we've just finished up the meat from the first purchase.

    I just have to be careful so DH does not have steak three times a week and eat it all up before touching much of the rest. I do the same with the frozen veggies, divide them up into boxes of assortments and tell DH that he is not to take from a second box until he's used up all of what's in the first. Or he'd have all the pea pods gone in a month, and by spring we'd be eating nothing but broccoli.

    BTW - DH works seasonal and is home from about Nov - May, so he does all the cooking during that time. I fill the freezer, he empties it LOL!

  12. Use Less

    Use Less Well-Known Member Supporter

    Nov 8, 2007
    western New York State
    My sister has done this occasionally, and my mom did years ago. We haven't. We watch the ads for a local meat market that supplies many restaurants and has a store front as well. They have had vac-packed strip steaks for $3.99, Angus burger for $1.99, etc. We have an in at a butcher's where beef & pork tongues, tripe, etc., are as often left behind as not, so we get that for nothing or close to. We think it works out better money-wise for us. Sue
  13. beaglady

    beaglady Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2002
    Ask for the bones and make soup stock. You can can or freeze it, which makes for nice quick soups. You may want to emphasize that you want *all* the bones, or you might just get a knuckle or two. 1# bones will yield about a quart of stock.
  14. Charleen

    Charleen Supporter

    May 12, 2002
    Western NY
    And ask for the tallow to render down and make soap or hang it outside for the birds. We grind tripe and add it to liversausage. Yum!