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Beef General Information

Should a customer ever buy a whole steer, also know as a cattle pack?

By Bob Oros

cattle-pack.jpg (25881
 bytes)There are several things to consider when buying a thousand pound animal.

First is the cost. At $.70 per pound live weight the cost goes to $1.00 per pound “hanging weight” (after the hide is removed and the animal is eviscerated).

Next you have to pay someone to cut, wrap, freeze, and label the various cuts. With a 30% cutting loss (50% if all the bones are removed) the finished cost would end up at $2.50 per pound.

The second question is being will you be able to use all of the cuts? The sirloin, short loin and rib make up only 24% of the total carcass. The chuck alone represents 26%. That means that all the soup bones, ground beef, briskets, goosenecks, etc., are going to cost $2.50 per pound as well. So far we have not even mentioned the two most important elements: portion cost and quality.

Portion cost is nearly impossible to calculate as you have to figure the percentage of each cut as it relates to the whole animal.  If you had several hundred pounds of meat in your freezer, all cut from the same animal, and the first steak was tough, you would have a freezer full of tough steaks to look forward to.  Th breed of the animal does not determin the total quality. The very best way to buy beef for a restaurant is to buy USDA Choice or better, portion cut by a professional meat cutter, from a distributor who is willing to stand behind every pound they sell.