Buying a Cow: How Much Meat Will You Get? (And What to Do with It!)

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We bought a quarter of a cow last year. Before we decided to purchase, I wanted to know how much beef we’d actually be getting by buying a cow (or part of a cow). Terms like hanging weight made my head spin!

A whole cow would have been way too much for our freezer. We don’t eat a ton of beef, and our family of five is taking about a year to get through the quarter cow that we bought. I created this post to help regular people determine how much usable beef they’ll actually be getting.

How much does buying a cow actually cost?

Costs for beef can vary greatly by region, farmer and diet of the animal. To give you a basic idea, a grass fed quarter cow goes for about $500, a half for $1000 and a whole cow for $2000 in our area. Then, add around $1.25 per pound to process.

How much beef is in a quarter cow?

Approximately 50 pounds of ground beef hamburger
Chuck Roast = 10 lbs
Rolled Rump Roast = 3 lbs
Sirloin Tip Roast = 3 lbs
Stew Meat = 3 lbs
Ribeye Steak = 2 lbs
NY Strip Steak = 2 lbs
Sirloin Steak = 2 lbs
Tenderloin Filets = 1 lb
Skirt Steak = 1 lb
Brisket = 2 lbs
Short Ribs = 2 lbs
Soup bones with meat = 4 lbs

Total amount of beef in a quarter = 80-95 lbs
Approximate Freezer Space is 3 cubic feet

How much beef is in a half cow?

Approximately 100 pounds of ground beef hamburger
Chuck Roast = 20 lbs
Rolled Rump Roast = 5 lbs
Sirloin Tip Roast = 5 lbs
Stew Meat = 6 lbs
Ribeye Steak = 5 lbs
NY Strip Steak = 5 lbs
Sirloin Steak = 4 lbs
Tenderloin Filets = 3 lbs
Skirt Steak = 3 lbs
Brisket = 4 lbs
Short Ribs = 4 lbs
Soup bones with meat = 8 lbs

Total amount of beef in a half = 165-190 lbs
Approximate Freezer Space is 6 cubic feet

How much beef is in a whole cow?

Approximately 200 pounds of ground beef hamburger
Chuck Roast = 40 lbs
Rolled Rump Roast = 10 lbs
Sirloin Tip Roast = 10 lbs
Stew Meat = 12 lbs
Ribeye Steak = 10 lbs
NY Strip Steak = 10 lbs
Sirloin Steak = 8 lbs
Tenderloin Filets = 6 lbs
Skirt Steak = 6 lbs
Brisket = 8 lbs
Short Ribs = 8 lbs
Soup bones with meat = 16 lbs

Total amount of beef = 335-380 lbs
Approximate Freezer Space is 12 cubic feet

Recipes for Different Cuts of Beef

I felt really overwhelmed after buying a cow. There were so many cuts of beef that I wasn’t familiar with. I wasn’t sure what we’d make with the more obscure cuts. Here are some recipe suggestions based on cut.

Recipe to use Sirloin Tip Roast

Crock Pot Beef Tips

Recipe to make Brisket

Old Fashioned Brisket

Recipe for Stew Meat

Simple Irish Inspired Beef Stew

Recipe to use Skirt or Flank Steak

London Broil

How to use Beef Leftovers

Chili Con Carne

What to do with Ground Beef

Try using ground beef for sloppy joes, tacos, shepherd’s pie or ground beef stroganoff. Some beef companies make patties for you for an extra charge, but you may want to invest in a burger press if you’re doing it yourself!

Buying a Cow

Buying a Cow

Krystal Miller
Krystal is a mom to three wonderful kids, and she works part-time as a college instructor. Her spare time is filled with writing, gardening and chasing backyard chickens.

10 Responses to “Buying a Cow: How Much Meat Will You Get? (And What to Do with It!)

  • Our neighbors did this and they were kind enough to share some of their beef with us. It’s a great deal if you have the space to store it in a freezer.

  • ruth schihl
    3 months ago

    Those figures are awful low. You must have purchased a Dexter. Most of your herefords or angus go for 1200 – 1800 lbs. So you would end up with 720 -1080 lbs of meat. I raise Dexters so I know.

  • These are great ideas! I’ve heard a lot about buying a cow, but this article has so much detail that I would actually feel comfortable doing it! Thanks for featuring my beef stew recipe, by the way!

  • We buy a cow every year from Spady farms we get 1/4 of the cow! When we run out we do meat bundles from meridian meats in the Fraser valley! I love have freezer stock of meat 🙂 it makes shopping so much cheaper!

  • My husband has mentioned buying a cow before, so I’m going to share this with him. We’d definitely have to clear out our freezer in the basement first. Great recipe ideas too!

  • This is a GREAT post! During the farm show in our county every year, we buy a cow and try to split it with friends. I will totally be sharing your post with them when they ask exactly what do you get when we do this! So much easier than me trying to figure it all out.

  • So good to know! While it might seem like a giant initial cost I am sure the savings are substantial and really a perfect idea for a growing family!

  • Darcy Koch
    3 months ago

    My friend and her family raise their own cows from calf to adult cow. Only grass fed. I know they save a ton of money by doing this.

  • Lisa Coomer Queen
    2 months ago

    This post had a lot of great information. We have always talked about buying a cow (or part of one) and this will come in handy. Thank you!

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