Is Buying a Quarter Cow Worth It?

In my life, I’ve heard that I can save on meat by buying in bulk more times than I can count. Chances are, you’ve heard that as well. Last year, we decided to buy a quarter of a cow and here is what we found out in the process.

Large animals, such as cows, are often sold by the quarter, half, or whole by farmers.

This is a “custom sale,” and your neighborhood farmer has given the go-ahead for direct sales.

Legally, depending on the state, this can imply that you are purchasing a “cow share” as opposed to individual, particular cuts. Technically, you are purchasing an animal “on the hoof,” while it is still alive and before a butcher can process it.

Farmers generally ask for a deposit before agreeing to harvest the cow to collect orders for a Cow Share. A Farmer may therefore keep track of consumer orders, manage their inventory, and coordinate processing dates with a butcher.

Your Cow Share is “weighed” after the cow is harvested (also known as “hanging weight”) before it is prepared into particular pieces.

A quarter cow may be between 160 and 225 LBs in weight (depending on the age, breed, and feed). Your cost for that share would be between $800 and $1125 if the hanging weight price were $5/LB. You may expect your cow share to be divided, packaged, labeled, and frozen.

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You should be aware that when you purchase a quarter of a cow, you are paying for the animal’s hanging weight rather than just a single steak or roast. Expect to lose 25–40% of your cow share over the 14–28 days of hanging (moisture loss but better taste!) and slaughtering (removing hide, cartilage, bone, etc.).

Suppose your Quarter Cow is 33% “lighter” than the initial Hanging Weight after the cuts and age. Meat for take-home would probably weigh between 120 and 160 lbs. (based on the original weight minus 33%).

This implies that you will have 4-5 shopping bags full of various cuts (including New York steak, roasts, and ground beef), and the calculation for your take-home meat is around $7–$8 per pound.

Complete Breakdown

  • For meat that you take home, there are no additional fees.
  • You pay $5 per pound of hanging weight, for example. The quantity of meat that may be taken home varies based on the breed, butchering method, length of hanging, etc.
  • The weight of the animal hanging is calculated immediately after it has been harvested and hung. Cows “hang” for 14–28 days after being weighed. This is the perfect range, and it enhances the flavor.
  • Meat that can be taken home will weigh 25–40% less than what is hung. This is typical owing to moisture loss while hanging, breed (the proportion of meat to bone and non-meat), and waste produced by cartilage, bones, and butchering.
  • Once the final take-home meat has been weighed, the average price is determined and split by the original quarter share payment. We calculated take-home beef at $7-8 per pound for the situation mentioned earlier. This covers everything from tenderloin and New York steaks to ground beef and roasts.
  • There should be various steaks, roasts, ground beef, and stew meat. Approximately half of your meat will be used for ground beef and stew, 1/4 for roasts (chuck, shoulder, rump, sirloin tip, etc.), and 1/4 for steaks (sirloin, prime rib, T-bone, filet mignon, tenderloin, etc.).

Is it Worth it?

Whether to purchase a full cow or a quarter of a cow is entirely up to you. If you’re a single individual living alone, you may find it impossible to purchase a complete cow; nevertheless, a quarter cow can work just for you.

On the other hand, a large, meat-eating family may discover that a whole cow doesn’t even last them the whole year.

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