What is a Hanging Weight? 

The hanging weight of livestock is when the butcher has the carcass hanging in the cold room and takes a record of the the weight. 

Once the animal is dispatched, the hide, head, hooves/feet, and innards are removed. The carcass is then lifted onto a hook, the weight it recorded, and it will hang in a cold room until processing. 

Why the Hanging Weight? 

The hanging weight is the fairest weight for the producer (farmer) and customer (you). 

Fair for the Farmer // Why Not Meat Weight?

Many folks wonder why half or whole beef isn’t priced by the meat weight.

The customer has the option to choose bone-in or boneless cuts or can choose to leave cuts as roasts, steaks, or grind the meat. Depending on the customer’s selections, the meat weight (or finished weight) can vary greatly. 

Farmers raise their beef steers with a goal of sending them to processing when they reach a certain target live weight. Based on breed, live weight, feed program, and body composition, farmers can anticipate that their beef steers will hang at a particular weight. This helps the farmer plan for consistent income.

If the beef was priced by the meat weight, the income from steer to steer would be unpredictable and would vary greatly depending on the customer’s personal selections. 

Fair for the Customer // Why Not Live Weight?

Live weight is the weight of the steer at the farm or when it arrives at the butcher shop.  

Pricing half or whole beef by the live weight would mean that regardless of the yield of the steer, the customer would be responsible for paying the price of the entire weight of the beef steer. Why does that matter? 

Picture this. One 1,400lb steer has a hanging weight that is 60% it’s live weight. Another 1,400lb steer has a hanging weight that is 50% it’s live weight. On the second steer, this means that the butcher has 10% less weight to work. Meat yield would be less, but the customer would have paid the same amount for both steers. 

Other questions to consider with live weight pricing:

Do you weigh them when they are full with feed?

Do you weight them when they are empty?

Cattle can eat up to 30lbs in one sitting. 

Are they weighed on the farm or at the processor? If they are weighed at the farm, they will drop weight on the trailer ride to the processor. 

Long-legged steer is going to have more “waste” (non-meat weight) than a short stocky steer. This is why beef breeds are bred to be short and compact. 

Hanging Weight and the Beef Farmer

Beef farmers have a goal of live weight, hanging weight, and meat weight. This means that if a farmer raises their steers to a certain live weight and body composition, they can expect the beef to hang at a certain weight and yield a certain weight of meat. This consistency is good for projecting income.

If a farmer can raise a beef steer as quickly as possible, on the least amount of feed, that means that the steer was happy and healthy enough to grow rapidly, was fed enough to fill out it’s frame at a relatively young age and produce top grade beef. It means that it spend a good amount of time on pasture eating grass for free.

Healthy livestock grow well and fast, they produce beef that is tender, marbled, and a lot of it. It is in everyone’s interest that cattle are raised well. 

Learn More

Learn more about buying in bulk for beef and pork so that you can be fully informed when making your investment.