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We bought a quarter of a cow last year. Before we decided to purchase beef this way, 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!
Update: I’ve had several questions about my use of the word cow in this post. I apparently bought a steer, because a cow is technically the female (who knew!).
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
Recipe to make Brisket
Recipe for Stew Meat
Recipe to use Skirt or Flank Steak
How to use Beef Leftovers
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!
Also check out these amazing beef skillet recipes!