Know the basics before buying beef carcass


MT. VERNON, Mo. — Interest in putting large quantities of beef in the freezer seems to pick up this time of year according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“As more home-raised beef appears along with all-natural, forage or grass-fed beef, questions arise about the yield of packaged beef you’ll take to the freezer out of a 1000- to 1200-pound animal,” said Cole.

There is considerable variation in the amount of beef the animal produces depending on sex, age, flesh condition and class of cattle.

“Perhaps the greatest variable is the locker plant procedure itself. How much bone, fat and variety meats like the liver, heart, tongue and even the tail are prepared for you,” said Cole.

Lean meat

Another factor can be the amount of lean wanted in ground beef servings. A rather fat burger might run 30 percent fat — 70 percent lean while a lean burger could run 10 percent fat and 90 percent lean.

“Most households prefer an 80:20 blend for burgers but all of these decisions influence the amount you take home,” said Cole.

Research and practical experience indicate that a 1,100-pound steer that’s been fed a concentrate feed for 90 or 100 days should yield roughly 670 pounds of hanging beef. Cole says the typical yield or dressing percentage is 60 to 62 percent.

Thinner and older animals, especially cows, will have a lower dress. “The typical beef carcass that is processed into closely trimmed cuts, some boneless, some bone-in with regular ground beef yields about 65 to 67 percent of the carcass weight into wrapped beef,” said Cole.

End result

That means the 670 hanging weight now is broken down to about 442 pounds. Remember, the 670-pound hot carcass weight shrinks some during the 10- to 14-day aging period.

“First-time buyers of a whole or half beef may anticipate more fancy steaks than they receive. Those top quality steaks are cut from the rib and short loin which together make up about 18 percent of the animal’s carcass weight,” said Cole.


Cole says the current beef market is strong and with the economy the way it is, many consumers are not financially able to buy a whole carcass. “Producers who normally market carcass beef are developing smaller packages or bundles of beef cuts to accommodate their customers,” said Cole.


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