Gabriel and I are huge believers in consuming ecologically based products. That’s why we raise grass-fed beef. Well, that and Gabriel just has this thing for cows. I could go on all day about the benefits of grass-fed meat, but instead I’ll just refer you to eatwild.com because this article is about the practicalities of getting your own beef processed.
I hear of so many people who buy expensive grass-fed beef from stores such as Whole Foods because they’re not sure that going to the trouble of getting a half or whole beef is worthwhile or, more importantly, if they have the freezer space. With that in mind, I thought I’d give you a few numbers and pictures to give you a better idea.
I should warn you ahead of time that some of the pictures and language in this article may conjure up gross mental images.
We took an 820 pound bull to the processor a few weeks ago. His hanging weight ended up being 500 pounds. Can you believe the head, skin, and entrails weighed over 300 pounds?!
The shop we used was Amish owned. A very nice clean place with a retail store front and window into the processing room so you could see what was going on back there.
So, wanna know how much meat you get from a 500 pound carcass? try 191 pounds of ground beef…
…And 157 pound of cuts…. which comes to 348 pounds total…
…And this is what it looks like once it’s in the freezer.
Whoa Nellie! that’s a lot of meat! Which is why most grass-fed producers offer selling beef by the half. And lots of folks go on to split that half with a friend.
This particular beef totaled 348 pounds. But don’t be scared! That means half would have been 124 pounds, and one quarter only 62 pounds. see? Not so bad. In fact, you’re typical kitchen freezer has enough room for 62 pounds of meat – though I admit that’s be pretty much the only thing it’d fit.
Another reason people hesitate to buy beef this way is that they use mostly ground beef, and not a lot of cuts. Hey, I’m with you on that! I’m a casserole kind of gal. The beauty of having your beef (or half beef) taken to the butcher is that you get to tell them how to cut it. If you want all ground, you can get all ground. Gabriel and I don’t eat a lot of steak, so we opt for a more roasts and ground beef and just a few steaks.
In the end, it’s a little bit more of a hassle than buying your meat by the pound at the super market, but in my opinion, it’s worth the peace of mind of knowing that I don’t have to make an emergency run to the grocery store ever, and that I’m supporting the local economy rather than some ginormous corporation. The fact that grass-fed, intensively managed cattle are actually good for the land instead of harmful, not to mention good for you, doesn’t hurt either.