Questions about buying a cow or a pig for food? - Page 2
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  1. #16
    Moderator YankeeMom's Avatar
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    Default Buying a half a cow... help?!

    I'm buying a half a cow from my mom's friends (no hormones or anything other than the deworming, etc. that they need) and I'm using http://www.foodsubs.com/Meats.html to figure out what cuts come from what part of the cow. But I don't know HOW MUCH will come from each cut.

    Like, I know cuts like pot roast and blade roast come from the chuck and ribeyes from the rib section. But I don't know how much of each to request. Can I get a blade roast AND a chuck roast ...I know, I can get more than ONE roast off a cow but I mean, do they both come from the same cut? I know you can't get Porterhouse AND T-bone because they are from the same cut, the Porterhouse IS a T-bone w/ the extra tenderloin piece.

    Help? lol

  2. #17
    Registered User Buckeye5's Avatar
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    We use our own grain fed beef also. I usually do this:
    hamurger: 1 lb. Packages( half of your meat will be hamburger)
    steaks: including, t-bone, sirloin, ribeye, and porterhouse. I ask for 2 steaks per pack
    Round steak: I ask for it to be tenderized and put into 1lb. packs, or smaller, also you can ask for this also to include cube steak packs ( I ususally ask for 5 per pack)
    roasts: usually 2-3 lb. roasts( which are chuck, arm, blade)
    sirloin tip roast ( 2-3 lbs) or ask the meat shop what the ususal size is
    Rump roast (with the string around it) I ask for the usual
    You can also keep some of the bones for your dog or beef stock receipes
    Liver ( yuck I don't like but have used it for dogs)
    stew meat: I ask for small packages

    I hope this helps you a bit, I know you have a large family, I use this packaging method for a family of 5(21 yr., 18., and a15 yr. old, plus me and DH) DS doesn't eat a lot of beef though
    taking one day at a time, trying to get rid of debt!!

  3. #18
    Registered User Missy's Avatar
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    I would be interested in knowing too. Pretty much though this is all going over my head....so not to hyjack the thread...can someone explain this in slowed down for Missy speak??

    I understand the buying a half a cow part...but after you do that...then what??

  4. #19
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    I was a meat wrapper for a farm butcher for five years and one of my "duties" was to get cutting instructions from customers. I often had to walk "first-timers" through the process and, hopefully, the person you deal with will help you, too.

    In the case of where I worked, we also gave the customer the choice of how thick they wanted their steaks; one-inch was the most common but often people wanted 3/4 inch or 1 1/4 inch, less often 1/2 inch or more than 1 1/4 inch, although I can remember at least one occasion where the customer wanted 2 inch steaks. They ended up looking like mini-roasts! and I sure wouldn't recommend getting them that thick. If you go with 3/4 inch steaks instead of 1 inch, you'll end up with a few more in the end. And, you can choose how many steaks per package that works best for you.

    We also gave the choice of sirloin tip roasts or having them cut into steaks.

    Round steaks were often done in what we called "half and half," where half the round steaks were left as round steaks, the other half run through the cuber for cube steaks. Or they could be left as round roasts.

    Chuck roasts could be left as roasts or cut into chuck steaks. We didn't separate blade roasts from chuck roasts, as far as labeling; as far as my boss was concerned, those were all considered "chuck roasts."

    NY steaks are T-bone without the bone. Rib eye are rib steaks without the bone. "London broil" is just a thick round steak (I can't remember if it normally comes from the top or bottom round).

    There are also rump roasts; my boss would wrap those in netting.

    And I don't know if the hanging weight versus what you actually get has been explained to you, but it is important to remember that if you're paying for hanging weight, that isn't what you will leave the meat shop with. Hanging weight is before the boning and trimming is done; your cut and wrap cost is based on hanging weight, unless you have some other arrangement. Depending on the animal and the butcher, you might actually end up with anywhere from 25% to 33% less than the hanging weight. My boss was very efficient and could usually get it within that 25%, sometimes a little less. Other butchers in my area didn't have that reputation. And, like I said, the animal (age, size, breed) will have some affect on it, too. An old cow with a lot of fat and big bones will have more hanging weight and more waste and you'll end up with less actual product.

    Anyway, I hope this helps and good luck.

    Janis

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    I went back and re-read you post.

    About how many roasts you get: the person getting your cutting instructions should ask you how big you want the roasts and what you choose should depend on the size of your family. I can't remember what I used to recommend for, say, a family of four but the person helping you will be able to advise you. Obviously, the bigger your roasts, the fewer you will end up with in the end.

    Also, just out of curiosity, are you getting a full side, which would mean one quarter off the front and one off the hind? Sometimes people want their half to be only the two hind quarters or the two front quarters, which will limit your cuts. If you are getting two hind quarters, you'll get t-bones but no rib steaks, for example. Personally, I'd much rather have the front and hind quarter for a side so you can get a little of everything. Some people prefer one or the other, though.

    Don't stress over this and don't make it more complicated than it has to be. To be honest, I used to cringe when a first time customer would say they had been looking at illustrations (or whatever) of the cuts of meats. You know those pictures of a cow with the lines and such identifying each cut of meat? Forget about it. It's ok to be informed, but you can over-prepare for it, too.

    Also, if your family are "organ eaters," you should be able to request the liver, heart and tongue. (Yes, some people do want those. I didn't even like wrapping them, let alone eating them.)

    Janis

  6. #21
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    I love the liver!! No one else does but I cook it up for just me with lots of onions. Anyway, who ever is cutting your meat will go through this with you. It is one of the advantages of buying a side of beef. I always ask for 1 pound hamburgers and the rest enough to feed the two of us. Works out perfectly without alot of waste.

    We don't get the t-bones or porter houses we usually have it cut down because it is just too much meat per person. Filets and strip steaks works well for us.

    I love buying the beef and pork from the farm and having it cut. It is so convenient having everything right there in our freezer and cost wise I don't notice alot of difference. The quality has always been better than what I can get in the grocery store.

    Don't stress the person butchering your meat will take good care of you I am sure. They want you happy so you will come back.

    Just curious are you taking it to a family run business? We go to a family that has done this for years and we like them alot. They are small enough to care about the customers and large enough to have a USDA inspector there that will inspect your individual 'cow' upon request for free. We always ask for the inspection.

    Goodluck!

  7. #22
    Registered User PrairieRose's Avatar
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    Be SURE to have your round steaks (skirt, flank steaks) tenderized. That will save you so much trouble and they will make such great chicken fried steaks, fajitas and pepper steak.

  8. #23
    Moderator YankeeMom's Avatar
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    Janis, WONDERFUL information! Thank you!!

    I've ordered a half a pig before, but the butcher was less than helpful...rather impatient with me because I didn't know what was what. And I think I got shorted because we ended up with less than 80lbs of meat from a HUGE pig.

    We are not using him lol. It's a Mennonite family that is butchering this one. I know it will be about $100 for the butchering. I don't know how big the cow is, I do know about hanging weight. It's a steer, that much I do know. My mom got a heifer recently and her take after butchering was 275lbs. Altogether for the cost of the cow and the butchering it was $440. Coming to $1.60/lb ...not bad considering she got ribeyes, filet mignon, etc. A little pricey for ground beef...but at least I know what's in it lol. Buying ground beef at the grocery store always makes me queasy. Damn 'fast food nation' book

    Ok. This is my list of what to order, does it look "doable"? Am I missing anything?

    3lb chuck roasts
    3/4" ribeye steaks 6 per pkg
    back ribs - can you still get those if you've already got the meet for the ribeye?
    3/4" sirloin steaks 6 per pkg
    2 to 3lb tenderloin roast
    tri-tip steak?
    2lb London Broil, one per package
    1 to 2lb flank steak, one per package
    1 to 2lb skirt steak, one per package

    3 to 4, 2lb pkgs stew meat
    2 to 3, 2lb pkgs cubed steak (yuck, dh likes it)
    The rest hamburger in 1lb pkgs.

    I don't know if I can get the liver, but I'm going to ask. Does it get cut into smaller pieces or do they package the whole liver together? I imagine a cow liver is quite large.

    Bones...would those be good for beef stock? I don't know if I would give them to my dogs lol.
    Last edited by YankeeMom; 03-06-2008 at 09:35 AM.

  9. #24
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    Well, I think you've got it all lined up nicely.

    I'm glad you mentioned the tri-tip because I forgot to. It's one of those obscure cuts that a lot of people don't think of. In the case of where I worked, it wasn't "offered" but was cut if asked for. Also, getting the short ribs shouldn't be a problem. Just remember, if the person getting your instructions doesn't mention something (like the tri-tip or ribs), be sure and ask.

    And some butchers are better or worse than others. The one I worked for had a reputation for having a crappy personality (he was an acquired taste), but he had a reputation for being honest and careful and customers knew that the animal they sent in was going to be the meat they were going to get back. One of our best customer's brother was a butcher who had sold his meat shop but kept his slaughter truck business. Our customer said his brother was the "best" in the business but he (our customer) wouldn't use him for even the killing because he (the brother) was contracted to take the animals to the new owners of the shop he had sold. Our customer told me did use the other business once but when he got packages of elk meat mixed in with his beef, he never went back.

    My boss also had the reputation for having the "cleanest" shop around (in the area).

    Anyway, good luck. It sounds like you're on the right track with everything.

    Janis

  10. #25
    Moderator YankeeMom's Avatar
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    Thanks!
    I forgot to mention that, yes, we are getting half of each the hind and the front. I asked about the liver today but don't know yet because my mom's friend (the farmer) actually "guts" the animal before taking it to the butcher. Is that normal?

  11. #26
    Registered User M55FF's Avatar
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    my husband would love for us to get a half a cow I'd love its hormone free...
    LUCKY YOU !!!!!!!

  12. #27
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    Yes. A lot of the work is done in the field, with the guts, misc. body parts, etc. going into "gut barrels," which in turn go into the "gut cooler" back at the shop (at least in my experience). The guy who ran the slaughter truck, though, would bring the hearts, liver and tongue in on hooks to be hung in the "drip cooler," along with the quarters (or, in the case of hogs, halves).

    I suppose there's a lot of variance in how butchers do business, but that's the way my former employer did it.

    Janis

  13. #28
    Registered User mcphlips's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye5 View Post
    We use our own grain fed beef also. I usually do this:
    hamurger: 1 lb. Packages( half of your meat will be hamburger)
    steaks: including, t-bone, sirloin, ribeye, and porterhouse. I ask for 2 steaks per pack
    Round steak: I ask for it to be tenderized and put into 1lb. packs, or smaller, also you can ask for this also to include cube steak packs ( I ususally ask for 5 per pack)
    roasts: usually 2-3 lb. roasts( which are chuck, arm, blade)
    sirloin tip roast ( 2-3 lbs) or ask the meat shop what the ususal size is
    Rump roast (with the string around it) I ask for the usual
    You can also keep some of the bones for your dog or beef stock receipes
    Liver ( yuck I don't like but have used it for dogs)
    stew meat: I ask for small packages

    I hope this helps you a bit, I know you have a large family, I use this packaging method for a family of 5(21 yr., 18., and a15 yr. old, plus me and DH) DS doesn't eat a lot of beef though
    This is usually about what we get also.
    I found out this year they will create hamburger patties as well. I have to pay 20 cents more a pound for the patties, but I had them do 20lbs. I know I could do it myself for burgers in the summer, but often times our burgers are spure of the moment, and I never remember to take the hamburger out to thaw in the morning.
    Our guy also makes Baloney which my husband likes. I am not into baloney. We didn't pay the extra for that this time.
    I hope you enjoy it! THe year we got a bull we found the meat to be a bit more tough, but the others have been like melting in your mouth.

  14. #29
    Registered User zazenist's Avatar
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    If I told my father I was buying half a cow, the first thing he'd say would be "which end are you getting?"

  15. #30
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    I would love to be able to buy half a cow or hog, but the one shop that did that here closed up i guess i need to get on line and see what i can come up with, I think it would be alot cheaper and healthier will have to do some checking. thanks for the spur to look.

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