When it comes to beef weights, there are 3 different ones of which customers should be aware of.
#1 Live Weight
The first is “LIVE” weight. This is what the animal weighed on the hoof, or when it was alive.
#2 Hanging Weight
The next weight is “HANGING” weight. This is the weight that the butcher gives us after the animal has been taken back to the butcher shop to hang. The weight difference from live to hanging is from loss of blood, head, hide, hooves, viscera, lungs and heart. The hanging weight is usually about 62% of the live weight.
So, a 1200 pound animal (live weight) would have a hanging weight of 744 pounds. This is the weight the butcher charges their cut/wrap fees on ($1.10 per pound).
#3 Final Weight
The “FINAL” or “TAKE HOME” weight is again different.
The weight is lost in 2 ways – from hanging to take home weight. About 4% is water weight lost during the 10-21 day period that the carcass is hung (or “cured”). Then about another 35% is lost during the cutting process. This amount is variable based on 2 factors – one is the amount of fat in the meat, and the other is the cuts that a customer requests. Higher fat means more loss. Also, the more boneless cuts requested by the customer, the lower the final weight. (Note that the lower weight doesn’t mean that you are receiving less meat – rather, you are receiving fewer bones).
So, Why Is Meat Hung?
Hanging beef in a cooler for 10 – 21 days is recommended to improve tenderness. This process is called aging. This allows the enzymes in the meat to break down the proteins and improve eating quality. The process also allows the development of flavors associated with the aging process.
Never hesitate to ask questions to your Beef source or your Butcher.
Let us worry about the Live weight – the butcher worry about the Hanging weight – and you the consumer worry about the Final Take Home weight and get that cutting order just how you want it.