First time buying a half or whole beef?

June 24, 2021

Halves and wholes are generally sold based on hanging weight instead of take-home weight. This can make the price appear to be much lower than it really is per pound. At Box H Farm, buying a half or whole is the most economical way to buy beef, BUT how economical it is depends on which cuts of beef you order, how you have the animal cut up and if you use all the beef you receive.

Hanging vs take home (boxed) weight

A hanging half of beef is the carcass after the head, hide, hooves and more are removed and this weighs about 55-60% of the live weight of the animal (we tend to butcher heifers, not steers, and the yield is a bit lower for heifers). The butcher charges processing fees based on this weight, and this is also the weight we use to charge the customers.

The actual amount of meat you take home is 60-65% of the hanging weight. Some water weight is lost to shrinkage as the carcass hangs, and the cutting process trims off fat and bone as well. When you chose more bone-in cuts, ground beef with more fat and keep all the cuts, you tend to take home more pounds, although much of it is fat and bone (you receive about the same amount of lean meat regardless of what you select).

Here is an example:

Live weight: 1250lbs
Hanging weight: 687.5lbs (55% of live)
Take home weight: 412.5lbs (60% of hanging weight, or 33% of live weight)

If the cost is $4.65/lb of hanging weight, the cost to you for the whole animal above would be $3196.88, or $1598.44 per half beef. This works out to about $7.75/lb of beef you take home (again, depending on which cuts you pick). This price varies depending on the weight and yield of the animal, and you’ll find out the exact total once the beef is ready to go.

It’s important to remember that if you don’t plan to use all the cuts on a half, it may actually be better to buy those cuts you use instead of a half beef – otherwise you may end up with a freezer full of those less-preferred cuts! If you don’t use much ground beef, buying a half might not be the right choice.

Some info and tips for filling out your cut sheet:

• The only additional cost will be if you choose to get processed items (sausage, patties, etc) that our butcher charges extra for, and in that case we’ll just pass on the cost the butcher charges to you
• If you’d like sausage (or patties), there is a minimum batch size of 25lbs per type of sausage. Approximately 50% of a beef tends to be ground beef, and any things you choose like sausage or patties will come out of the total amount of ground you get.
• If you find any errors once you get your beef, let us know and we’ll do our best to make it right if at all possible!
• Packed or Boxed column for steaks, etc: you can either get a (10lb approx.) box of a certain cut, separated by plastic within the box, or it will come paper (and plastic) wrapped with however many pieces you’d like per package.
• If you have any questions about the cuts or what our butcher can or can’t do, please feel free to reach out. We’re happy to help you fill out the cut sheet!

Laura Hoimyr
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