Custom Beef Cut and
Our USDA Meat Processors provide A LOT of options for our
customers, most are obvious, though some options can be very confusing! We are here to walk you through it so that
you can make the absolute best use of your custom beef for your household’s
Some basic terms to get your Order started:
Whole – means that you
are committed to buying the entire steer, regardless of how big or little it
may end up! You also get to be one
entirely choosing your cuts, sizing, flavoring – everything. There are certain things that only come 1 per
steer, which you should consider when choosing your size
Half – means that are
committed to buying half of the steer (divided equally between the left/right
side) – so will typically end of with half of what is excepted
from the Whole steer.
Quarter – means that
you are committed to buying ¼ of the steer, which is where things get trickier
in the processing area; thus the extra cost per lbs. for Quarter over
Half/Whole costs. Each steer has Four
Separate Cut possibilities that yield different of package beef groups (below)
AND your choice has to fit in with the other 3 people that bought the other quarters. United/Harmonic choices – never easy!! Luckily you still have flexibility of how to
processing your own quarter, so still have lots of choices to make for your own
customization beyond cut.
Hanging Weight - The weight of your steer hanging on the rail, after slaughter. This is the weight you are charged for, not live
- Hanging your steer in a controlled
temperature to increase tenderness of the muscle. If you have purchased a
Whole, you may choose to hang your steer for 21 days,
otherwise LH beef hangs for 14 days. LH
has found very little difference (if any at all) between beef hung 14 or 21
days, as our beef begins as a superior product.
Hanging an extra week will result in less yield.
Yield - The amount of meat you take home
from your animal. This will vary greatly on specific, style of cut, fat content
and weight of animal.
How much beef is in a Whole steer?
Our goal is to pull steers out of
the finishing process at about 1,500 lbs. with the expectation that 30-40% of
the steer will result in packaged beef.
Only a few things affect the live weight of the steer, which we carefully
control in our finishing process, but a few things can affect the package
weight; which will we explain below.
Example – 1,500 lbs steer should
yield 450-600lbs of packaged beef. The
difference is yield is largely determined by the customer’s choices in how to
package the beef;
how long is the Dry Aging
process? (longer results in less edible beef)
how lean do you want the cuts?
Bone-in or bone out cuts?
Rib, Grill and Stew cuts vs. hamburger?
More steaks vs larger roasts?
In general, are % of cut types
typically chosen from a Whole beef:
- 35% lean trim, or
- 20% round roasts and
- 20% chuck roasts and
- 15% rib and loin
- 10% other cuts
(brisket, flank, short ribs, skirt steak)
*Fun calculator to help plan your beef yield – mind you it’s
an ESTIMATE!! Our beef is custom, so
does not receive a USDA Yield (only retail markets, like butcher shops/grocery
stores have these,) though it’s our goal to get our steers in the Yield Grade
4-5; which is LOTS of external fat and marbling within the meat.
Cut for a Side of Beef - https://www.augustusranch.com/blog/beef-cuts-explained
How the price per lbs. determined?
Steers are typically about 35-40%
inedible, (after all you can’t eat the hide!) so customers are charged based on
the Hanging Weight of the steer rather than what he weighed when leaving the
Example – a 1,500 lb live steer
should result in a carcass weighing 850-900 lbs; this is his Hanging
Weight. Thus Hanging Weight of 850lbs x
$5 = $4,250 for a Whole packaged beef.
Half and Quarter purchases have a
premium cost due to the addition service needed to ensure that all customers
receive the best beef possible. (See
below for more information when considering halves or quarters)
#s Hanging Weight
Cost per lb
What factors to consider before buying a Whole, a Half or a Quarter of
Consider your family’s typical
weekly/monthly menu and your grocery costs for retail for beef and other
Consider your family’s health needs
and diet plans over the next few months – more homemade meals, more
hormone-free meat, more lean meats or more fat (Keto,
Paleo, South Beach, Atkins).
Consider if reorganizing your
family menu to mostly beef is possible; as this will reduce spending on other
meat and freezer space needs – i.e. more beef tacos than grilled chicken
strips, more beef stews over pork chops, etc…
Consider freezer space you have to
store beef; as well as ability to store frozen prepared meals (like beef stew
in 2 cup portions for lunches) as well as your regular frozen items. If you are a canner – consider shelf space
and shelf life along with your family’s eating habits. A Whole beef, will need roughly 14 cubic feet
of freezer space, Half needs 7 cubic feet and a Quarter about 4 cubic
feet. Typical side by side fridges have
between 8 to 11 cubic feet of freezer space.
Can I “cow-pool” others to buy a
Whole beef and split up the cuts as best determined by the group? This opinion is ideal for someone with
organizational skills and a big family or neighbors; you handle all of the
upfront work (deposit, organizing the cut sheets, paying for your whole and
picking up the beef) but you also get to make the decisions on how much of each
type of cut or kind of cut goes to each cow-pooler and at what cost.
J Sorry LH isn’t
qualified for cow-pooling counseling or mediation
Consider also certain cuts and
flavorings are only available 1 per steer, so if choosing a Half or a Quarter,
you may not be able to get those cuts or style.
Obvious cuts are the Liver or Tongue, but there are cuts that aren’t so
obvious. For example, there is only 1 full
brisket per steer, which is the muscle covering his chest. A Full brisket is huge and can be cut into
halves with ½ as the “Flat” and ½ as the “Tip.”
Most briskets that are stewed or slow cook are “Flats,” rectangle in
shape with healthily fat cap on the top.
Most briskets that are marinated and grilled are “Tips,” and have much
less fat so requiring basting and attention.
When ordering a Half or a Quarter; these cuts are divided up by the
“Dibs” system. You called it first
(submitted your deposit and your cut sheet) and it’s yours.
Use these handy tools to help you gather some data:
Play around with the Beef Cut-Out Calculator to get an idea
of the type and sizes of cuts from a Whole beef: http://beefcutoutcalculator.agsci.colostate.edu/
Check out the Retail pricing of ground beef tracked by the
US Bureau of Labor and Statistics for a baseline of custom beef costs compared
to retail costs.
Check out Wholesale Pricing (not retail) of Choice Grade
Beef tracked by the Beef Council
While the price per pound for a
Whole custom beef is more than the typical cost for ground meat, it’s also ½
the cost of roasts and 1/3 the cost of steak – purchasing the Whole beef is
MAJOR savings to any family budget.
The American Beef Counsel has put together these awesome cut
sheets so that our customers can quickly reference visually the cuts offered in
Custom Beef with what’s available at your Butcher’s display case. They even give you handy cooking icons for
the best methods of preparing the cuts (slow cooking, oven roasting, grill,
etc…) These chart ought to help you
figure out your cut needs when considering your household’s menu preferences.
If you’re still not sure on what to choose – their online
guide can give you some tips, or we have help you as well. https://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/cuts
So you got it home – NOW what??? – More on this shortly!!!