If you’ve never done it before, the process of buying half a cow (or a whole cow) can be very daunting. Investing in filling your freezer is no small task and you should be informed on exactly how the process goes and how everything works.

Here, we will go over how the process works at Hayfield Farm both from the customer’s point of view and behind the scenes. From farm to farm, the process and pricing can vary. Be sure to talk to your farmer to get all of the details just so there are no surprises.

First, you let us know that you are interested.
You’ve gone over the details on our Wholesale page  and you are ready to move forward with the process. You purchase the $500 deposit and click the link to submit the cut sheet form, both are linked on the Wholesale page.
To reserve your Butcher Date, we need your completed cut sheet form and your $500 deposit. 

The Cut Sheet
One of the most intimidating pieces in the process of buying half a cow (or a whole cow) is the cut sheet. The cut sheet is your specifications for how you want all of your beef to be cut and packaged. If you are purchasing half a cow, you are deciding how every single cut from one side of the entire cow is done. If you are purchasing a whole cow, you are deciding how each cut from the entire cow is done. Our butcher, Fauquier’s Finest, has specific guidelines that farms and their customers must follow. We provide customers with a blank cut sheet and a walk through page, plus we are always available for questions. Take a look at our page for How to Fill Out a Cut Sheet for a Half Cow or How to Fill Out a Cut Sheet for a Whole Cow for the nitty gritty details.

Behind the scenes of the Butcher Date 
Each farm that works with our butcher, Fauquier’s Finest, is scheduled at the beginning of the year for their slots. At Hayfield Farm, we have multiple livestock that go into the butcher weekly. These pre-scheduled slots, between the farm and the butcher, are called “Kill Dates”. Sorry, y’all – there are some terms that are used in this process that are cringey, but are necessary in defining each step. The Kill Date is, you guessed it, the day the steer is hauled to the butcher by us and is then killed and dressed by the butcher. Once the steer is killed, according to strict humane USDA-standards, it is dressed. Dressing is when the steer is skinned and the innards, and other parts that are not eaten, are removed.
Outside of this article, our Kill Dates are called our Butcher Dates. The Butcher Date is not the pick up date.

Butcher Date & Hanging Weight
The Butcher Date is the day that the animal is killed, dressed, and put on the hook in the cold room. Think Rocky movies! This is the date that customers reserve. Once it is on the hook in the cold room, the hanging weight is recorded. The hanging weight is the weight of the carcass, after the steer has been dressed and is hanging, ready to dry age.

Pricing at Hayfield Farm
The price that you, the customer, pays is $3.85/lb on the hanging weight, plus tax.
Once the butcher notifies us of the hanging weight, we send you an invoice for your remaining balance. Your remaining balance is $3.85 multiplied by your hanging weight, tax is added, and your $500.00 deposit is subtracted. This remaining balance invoice can be paid by card, via the invoice, or by check mailed to Hayfield Farm at 12881 Sillamon Road, Goldvein, VA 22720.
The remaining balance is due prior to pick up.

What to expect for your Hanging Weight
The average hanging weight can vary greatly from farm to farm. It depends on the farm’s feed management, what age the farm sends cattle to butcher, which breeds they butcher, which sex of cattle they butcher, their product goals, and many other factors. Hanging weight also varies from steer to steer, as each animal is different.
At Hayfield Farm, we have target live weights, hanging weights, and finish weights. We monitor our animals and their weight closely so we can remain consistent, both in price and quality, for our customers.
At Hayfield Farm, our whole cows generally have a hanging weight around 800 pounds and our half cows generally have a hanging weight around 400 pounds.

Behind the Scenes at the Butcher – Dry Aging
Once your beef is on the hook in the cold room, it begins to dry age. In short, dry-aging is the process where meat hangs in a humidity-controlled environment, allowing air to hit all sides of the beef. This airflow allows the moisture in the beef to evaporate and concentrates the flavors. The dry-aging process breaks down the proteins within the meat, making it more tender. At Fauquier’s Finest, the dry age process is 10-15 days.

Behind the Scenes at the Butcher – Cutting 
The butcher takes your cut sheet and gets to work. The carcass is broken down into large primal cuts – shoulder, round, rib, etc. The butcher then hand trims and cuts each and every primal into individual cuts – ribeye, chuck roast, fajita meat, etc. All of the trimmings are made into ground beef. Any sections that the customer marked to grind are also made into ground beef.

Behind the Scenes at the Butcher – Packaging
Our butcher uses high-quality commercial vacuum-sealed packaging. We love it! This not only keeps your meat fresher longer, but it also prevents freezer burn and makes the cuts very easy to organize. Bone guards are used to protect the plastic from piercing. With proper handling and storage, this grade of vacuum-seal keeps beef for over two years.

Behind the Scenes at the Butcher – Labeling
Each cut is labeled with Hayfield Farm, our address, the weight of that specific cut (super helpful for roast recipes!), and other USDA-required verbiage.

Behind the Scenes at the Butcher – Flash Freeze
Each cut is flash frozen. Flash freezing is required by USDA and locks in the fresh flavors of each cut.

It’s DONE!
Once your cuts are frozen through and ready to go, the butcher reaches out to us and lets us know that it is ready for pick up. We notify you immediately, via email. Our customers pick up their meat from the butcher shop at their convenience. Please be sure to pay your remaining balance invoice prior to pick up. The butcher will not release your meat to you until you have paid.
Our butcher, Fauquier’s Finest, is located at 11746 Ag Industrial Drive, Bealeton VA and they’re open 9am to 4pm, Monday-Friday for pick up.

Pick up
For a half beef, you will need 300-350 quarts in cooler space total. For a whole beef, you will need 650-700 quarts in cooler space total. Pro tip: it is much better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
Once you arrive at the butcher shop, check in at the front desk. Let the staff know you are picking up a half (or whole) beef for *your last name* under Hayfield Farm. You do not owe the butcher any payment. The staff will direct you around back to the loading dock, where they will roll out your cart filled with beef! You’ll load up your coolers and head home to stock your freezer with natural local beef that you can feel good about.

This entire process of buying half a cow (or a whole cow) takes our butcher approximately three to four weeks to complete.