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How Much Meat Are We Talking About, Anyway?

How much meat does a steer produce? The internet tels me that a Hereford will come in at perhaps 1,200 lbs on the hoof, but many meat producers use 1,000 as a round number. We’ll do the same.

How much of that turns into beef hanging in the cooler? The number seems to be about 60% of live weight, so that’s 600 lbs. Of course, if you’ve ever witnessed butchers at work you know that the 600 lbs. will get whittled down further.

Grass fed beef tends to be leaner than feedlot beef, and there tends to be more usable meat, relatively speaking, so we have to subtract somewhere between 25% and 30% of the hanging weight off the 600 lbs. Let’s use 30% to be conservative, which is 180 lbs, leaving us with 420 lbs of beef. (If we got 65% usable meat and 25% waste we’d end up with 500 lbs).

The website at breaks the steer down thus:

A 1,000 pound choice steer will dress out at 61.5% (615 pounds). Of that 183 will be fat, bone and other loss. That leaves 432 pounds of beef.

Chuck (shoulder area): 164.8 pounds (26.8% of total carcass)

* Blade pot roasts-59.3

* Stew or ground beef-32.1

* Arm pot roast-22.3

* Cross rib pot roast-10.7

* Boston cut-9.9

* Fat and bone-30.5

Brisket (basically between front legs): 23.4 (3.8%)

* Boneless-9.4

* Fat and bone-14.0

Shank (basically lower leg below brisket): 19.1 (3.1%)

Short plate (belly under rib area): 51.0 (8.3%)

* Plate, stew, short ribs-40.8

* Fat and bone-10.2

Flank (belly under the loin): 32.0 (5.2%)

* Flank-3.2

* Ground beef-12.6

* Fat-16.2

Rib: 59.0 (9.6%)

* Standing rib roasts-24.2

* Rib steaks-12.4

* Short ribs-4.7

* Braising beef-2.7

* Ground beef 3.5

* Fat and bone-11.5

Loin (between rib and round): 105.8 (17.2%)

* Porterhouse steak-18.7

* T-bone steak-9.5

* Club steak-5.2


Where it al comes from

So, 420 lbs of meat should cost, what? Believe it or not, it looks like a live steer, bought in bulk, goes for just over $100 in the US and about $150 in Alberta per 100/lbs if I’m reading the tables correctly. Its going to take more investigation, but it looks to me like there’s room here. If the rancher is getting that little then there has to be a lot of marking up at each stop from pasture to table. $1500 for a 1000lb steer, which turns into 430 lbs of beef a $3.50/lb, which is what I’ve seen it advertised for.

Two currently for sale in Kamloops weighing in at 500-600 pounds would cost $1100 ($1/lb live weight)

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