How Much of a Cow Is Used for Meat?

Have you ever wondered how much meat you can actually get from a cow? We’re here to answer that question.

Official Estimates vs. Industry Insights

It is estimated that 70 percent of a cow is used for meat. This figure comes from The U.S. Department of Agriculture, however, those in the industry would estimate this figure to be closer to 60 percent. 

To put this into context, a 1200 pound cow with average muscle mass and ½ inch fat, yields a 750 pound carcass. This carcass can be broken down into 490 pounds boneless, trimmed beef, 150 pounds fat trim and 110 pounds bone. 

The 490 pounds of boneless, trimmed beef can be broken down into cuts that any meat-eater would be familiar with. It is made up of roughly 185 pounds ground beef, 85 pounds round roasts, 95 pounds chuck steaks or roasts, 80 pounds rib or loin steaks and 50 pounds other cuts such as ribs. 

Processing and Weight Loss: From Live Cow to Hanging Weight

A 1000 pound cow will lose approximately 39% of its weight during the dressing procedure. The remaining 61% is often referred to as the ‘hanging weight’ and this weight may decrease further as a result of moisture loss.

Byproducts from Cattle

Other parts of the cow are used for byproducts, for example, one cowhide can produce 12 basketballs or up to 144 baseballs or 18 soccer balls. Gelatin is another byproduct of beef and is used in gum and Jello, it comes from the connective tissue of the animal. The bones can be used to produce bone china, the intestines can be used for tennis racket or instrument strings and the hooves are used to make protein foams used by firefighters. The list of cow byproducts is long and varying. 

In conclusion, purchasing a cow offers a significant amount of diverse cuts of meat, while also utilizing nearly every part for a variety of byproducts, demonstrating the efficiency and sustainability of cattle processing. This not only supports local farmers but also provides consumers with quality and value. Whether buying a whole or half cow, it’s an effective way to invest in sustainable agriculture and enjoy high-quality beef. And, understanding the breakdown and processing of cattle can allow consumers to make informed decisions about purchasing meat

If you have any more questions about how to buy either a full or half a cow, or any queries relating to pricing, please do not hesitate to contact us on (530) 949-4241 or via our contact form where we would be happy to answer any queries you may have.

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