Buying a 1/4 Beef: Cost Break Down

Today we received our 1/4 beef from Pat N Tam’s Beef. This is the second time we’ve purchased a beef share this way. The first time we bought a quarter was in December. We bought the whole cow with a few friends and divided up the sides so that we each got a “split quarter” with cuts of meat from both the front and the rear. From that purchase we learned that we like to eat a lot of steaks and slow cooked roasts, so this time we decided to buy just a rear quarter in order to get a lot more steaks and roasts. I also asked the butcher to not give us any stew meat (since we don’t seem to go through that very fast) and just grind up all the trimmings into hamburger meat instead. It’s was so educational to talk directly with Robert, the butcher over at Buxton‘s, and figure out exactly what cuts we wanted.

The steer we bought was exceptionally large, so the amount of meat we received is not typical for a beef of age. Usually grass fed beef is slaughtered at 18-20 months, but this particular steer needed 3 months extra to fill out, so he was 23 months old. He weighed 1,048 lbs on the rail. By comparison, the previous beef we bought “only” weighed 745 lbs. We paid $3 per pound hanging weight for the whole beef, but because the rear has more premium cuts than the front it cost $3.25 while the front cost $2.75 per pound.

Our rear weighed 242 lbs on the rail and yielded the following approximate amounts of meat in our freezer:

6 packs top sirloin steak
9 packs t-bone steaks
8 packs top round steak
3 tenderloin steaks
3 sirloin tip steaks
1 flank steak
3 rump roasts
1 eye of round roast
1 sirloin tip roast
1 tri tip roast
30 packs ground beef

~12 lbs
~ 18 lbs
~ 14 lbs
~ 3 lbs
~ 3 lbs
~ 2 lbs
~ 12 lbs
~ 4 lbs
~ 5 lbs
~ 2 lbs
~ 60 lbs

TOTAL: ~ 135 lbs of meat for $786.50 or  $5.83 per pound.

That is a cut out rate of appx 55% just as Pat predicted. We are still expecting to get all the extras, ie bones, fat, offal etc from the butcher, so that will increase our yield significantly and lower our final cost per pound as well.

But even without the extras, I think that less than $6 per pound is a fantastic price on a quarter that is well over half premium cuts like rump roast and tri tip, t-bone and tenderloin steaks, which can cost upwards of $15-20 per pound retail. On top of the obvious benefit of saving money by buying beef in this way, it is also very reassuring and comforting to know exactly where this beef came from,  how it was raised and by whom.

Meat you can trust is definitely a good thing!
Do you buy meat this way? If so, what do you love about it the most?
If not, what is holding you back?

5 Responses

  1. Dee Wilcox Jun 03, 2013 -

    This post was incredibly helpful! Answered so many of my questions. Thank you!

  2. sueA. Oct 15, 2013 -

    was your price including cutting and wrapping?

  3. rebecca Dec 18, 2013 -

    yes it was!

  4. Saggy Mar 30, 2014 -

    I’ve got the opportunity to get a 1/4 cow for $600, processed, not off the hoof. Her early estimate is about 100lbs of meat. What do you think, Rebecca?

  5. Disappointed Aug 04, 2014 -

    We bought a quarter cow this year and we were extremely disappointed from the cuts of meat and the quality. We spent around $800, which is retail price. For that amount of money I could get my choice of grass fed, hormones free beef for the neighboring Amish. Many of the cuts are 50% – 60% bones and fat (some more). Honestly we felt we were cheated and didn’t get the value for our money.

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