The Half Cow in our Freezer - Buying a Half Cow (updated to edit)

I promised an update to our "half a cow" buying experience and now that my freezer is quite literally full of meat, I am ready to give a tiny update.

I got the call from the meat locker my brother chose to use for the butchering and processing letting me know our order was ready for pick up. I made plans to make the 2 3/4 hour drive this weekend and bring the meat home.

In preparation for the purchase I've been careful not to do much grocery shopping for frozen foods over the past month. Our upright deep freezer in the garage was about 80% empty in anticipation of the side of beef we would be getting. I set away more than enough money in our checking account to cover the cost of what we guesstimated it to be. Having never done this before I wasn't sure what to expect. I asked my brother (whom we got the meat from this year and who has regularly bought sides of beef and pork over the past ten years) and he said to roughly plan about $1.00 a lb. at 400 lbs. and then a processing fee on top of that.  (About $400 plus processing fees.)

As I stated in a previous column I went online to find a form to tell me what to expect to receive from half a cow.  

According to the downloadable form from Iowa State University a very rough estimate is as follows;

Meat from a typical half beef (1,000 - 1,200 lb. live animal) consists of approximately:

14 t-bone steaks
8 sirloin steaks
2 sirloin tip roasts
4 arm roasts
8 packages stew beef
4 packages soup bone
14 rib steaks
8 round steaks
6 chuck roasts
2 rump roasts
4 packages short ribs
80-100 lbs. ground beef

This morning my husband and I went through the packages and noted counts as marked on the packages- This is what we really got;

10 tenderloin steaks
12 t-bone steaks
3 arm roasts
7 packages soup bones
4 sirloin tip steaks
8 rib steaks
18 round steaks
9 chuck roasts
1 rump roast
4 packages short ribs
72 lbs. ground beef

Overall I'm happy with the purchase but we are not a 'roast' family so I am going to have to come up with creative ways to use up the roasts. I asked for stew beef and did not receive any and was questioning the fact that I only received 1 rump roast when I was expecting 2. Still, for the cost, we have a freezer packed full of beef and the price was right. We opted for no special cuts, no tenderizing, no patties made and no beef sticks or jerky as I was trying to keep the cost as frugal as possible and all those things were extra. In the end our processing fee for butchering, processing and offal disposal was $177.65 - this of course does not count the cost of the meat, which we had a hanging weight of 337 pounds. In the end, the price per pound came to $1.32.  

Total:  $672  for the meat plus processing and disposal fees.

Overall I'll do it again - but next time, if we have a second deep freeze and we can come up with enough money, I think I might actually opt for a whole cow, which would give our family of five enough beef for about a year.

EDIT: This is a pretty old post, but this morning I noticed a new comment, asking about cubic feet of meat. I have no idea. Whatever a standing, upright freezer holds.

The freezer is an old, standing, typical, upright freezer. We bought it back around 1996 or so. I'm going to guess it's between 16 and 21 cubic feet, as that is what that style freezer typically holds.

I also want to add that this is a very low cost compared to what most people will pay.  Not only because it's an old post and prices have gone up, this location was a very tiny town in the middle of the heartland Midwest and the meat was from my brother so our prices were lower.

I did not have a cut sheet because I lived almost 3 hours away from the butcher and was doing this over the phone and since they were a tiny little mom and pop operation in the heartland, they didn't even have a website.  Also:  The woman taking the order was not very helpful.
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