Thursday, April 9, 2015

Freezer Beef

Most of our meat comes from farmer friends and our local processor, including sides of pork, whole chickens and cuts of beef. This year, as investors in a herd of show cattle, we added beef from our herd to the freezer.

Most of our cattle remain in the herd for breeding purposes or are sold to folks interested in showing cattle. Recently a heifer fell in the pasture, damaging her leg. While we hated making a tough decision, we were grateful that the meat wouldn't be wasted.

Since the early days of our marriage, we've purchased freezer meat. I like it for several reasons:

  • A stocked freezer is beautiful - we always have a start to dinner in the house.
  • It's cheaper than buying retail.  
  • I can talk with the butcher to get the cuts and portion sizes I want. 
  • I like knowing where the meat came from and supporting local producers. 
Freezer meat can be purchased directly from the farmer or a local butcher. Additionally, many county fairs include auctions of animals raised by local kids as part of their FFA or 4-H project. You can buy an animal at the sale and have the processor transport and butcher the animal to your specs.

So how much meat should you expect? Hanging weight is the carcass weight, or the weight of the animal after slaughter. Each species dresses out slightly different. For beef:

Live Weight x .6 = Hanging Weight
Hanging Weight x .6 = take home meat

Our animal had a live weight of around 1,000 lbs. so the hanging weight was 600 lbs. Take home meat is around 60 percent of the hanging weight. In our case that was about 300 lbs (less than average due to the damaged leg). We split the meat evenly with our herd partners, and took home about 150 pounds of steaks, roasts and ground beef.

The whole 150 lbs fit in our large chest freezer, which also holds frozen garden
produce and a few pounds of pork left from the hog. And some cookies.

Meat comes packaged in freezer paper. Some butchers use vacuum packages.

Bacon cheddar cheeseburger. Maybe I'll blog a year of cheeseburgers?

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