When buying a whole cow, know the ins and outs!

When buying a whole cow, know the ins and outs!

There's this incredible mystery surrounding the cost of buying a whole cow or even half. It feels almost too overwhelming and by the time you hear hanging weight and live weight or take home weight, you're just ready to throw your hands up and say never mind.

So, I have learned A LOT working with our farmers and ranchers while continuing to read through ALL THE THINGS concerning this perplexing process. Our Ranchers have been extremely kind and patient as I continue to learn the ins and outs.

Well...what IS the answer to that elusive question of...how much will my cow cost?

The answer? There is no specific answer we can offer right now and here's why. At the end of the day, it really boils down to how much the LIVE weight was of your cow, but your Rancher will most likely go by hanging weight. I know, not much help, right?

Estimates can be given out all day long for easier planning and budgeting but each Rancher has a target weight or goal of where they like their stock to be at when they are ready to be butchered, so even these estimates will vary from Rancher to Rancher and breed of cow.

In short, here is the difference between the different weights and how the end is totaled up to give you an estimate for budgeting purposes.

Please note, this is an example and not a reflection of exact weights or prices.

If the cost of the cow is $4.25/lb. of HANGING weight, then the Rancher is basing the cost on the approx. 720 lbs. of meat (see graphic). Some base it off the cost of LIVE weight which could be less price per pound.

  • $4.25 x 720/lbs. = $3,060

During the butchering process, more weight will be lost which includes, fat trimming, water loss, and depending on the cut's, will result in less FINAL boxed weight than the hanging weight. So NOW, when you receive your boxed weight its averaged at 450 lbs. but your total investment is still $3,060.

  • $3,060 / 450 lbs. = $6.80/lb.

The question at the end of the day that is important to know, what is the LIVE weight of your animal? That is how you will get a better beat on how much your investment is going to be, but the Rancher, knowing his target weights for his animals, will give you a ballpark.

And always, if buying this way in bulk is what you really want but have a hard time working out the cost, find friends, family or neighbors to share!

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Is there any one interested in sharing a half.? If not I will do the half and make a deposit. I have never done Venmo. Is it hard?

Ann Pena

I paid a deposit for 2 half’s. Have you received it?

Ann Pena

Thanks for this great breakdown! In order to do this, likely a half or quarter cow, I’d need an additional freezer. Do you have any tips for figuring out what size I’d need (approx) for a half and a quarter cow? We space-challenged!


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