hanging weight

Beef Hanging Weight: Explained

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. 


Beef Cuts in a Half Cow

Beef Cuts in a Half Cow

Purchasing half of a cow (also known as half beef, side of beef, half a steer) can be so daunting. Do you actually get the entire half of the cow? Who has a freezer that large? Will you have to cut it all down yourself? No way! Buying half a cow means that you get all of the cuts of beef that are made from half of the animal. Each section of the cow is custom cut to your specifications.

But! That's a lot of options. Most folks don't know all of the possible cuts of beef. Where do you even start? Right here with your favorite beef farmers. 

We will break down (pun intended) each section of beef, the characteristics of each section, and your options for beef cuts. At the end, you can check out our Beef E-Cookbook to get delicious recipes for every beef cut in your half cow. How easy is that?

The More You Know

People like to learn when they are making an investment and purchasing from a local farm is definitely an investment. Will it save you hundreds of dollars in the long run? Absolutely. Is it a lot of money up front? Definitely. If you know the proper verbiage and understand how the process works, you can talk the talk and walk the walk with your friends and family while you are slinging your locally-raised and deliciously marbled steaks on the grill. Knowing all of the beef cuts in your half cow makes it even better. 

Technically, it's not a cow. At least, not always. 

This just might be a thorn in the side of your beef farmers, but! it's a good thing to know. Technically, most beef (especially locally-sourced beef) comes from steers, not cows. Cows are female cattle who have had a calf. Steers are castrated males, typically raised for beef. Heifers are females who have not yet had a calf. Bulls are intact males, typically used for breeding. If you purchase your beef cuts from the grocery store, your beef is from all four of these categories. It can also be from beef breeds or dairy breeds. But, that's a story for another day.

For the purposes of this lesson, when you purchase from a small farm, nine times out of ten, your beef will be coming from a steer. For the purposes of this article reaching the most people based on what they Google to find this article, we're going to continue to call it a half cow

Beef Cuts in a Half Cow

Turning a half cow into delicious beef cuts is no small task. Understanding how beef is processed gives you insight into what you're going to stock your freezer with and sheer appreciation for the dying craft of butchering. 

Primal Sections

The cow is broken down into eight primal sections, which are large sections of each part of the cow. If you are purchasing a half cow, you will make cut selections for each of the eight primal sections from one side of the cow. If you were purchasing a whole cow, you would make cut selections for each of the eight primal sections from both sides of the cow. It'll make a lot more sense once we move along. 

Once your half cow has dry aged and is broken down into the eight primal sections, the butcher takes your cut sheet and cuts each primal section into cuts according to your specifications. For a detailed walk-through of the entire process at the butcher, check out our article The Process, Pricing, and Timeline of Buying a Whole or Half Cow

Ground Beef

Unfortunately, the entire half cow can't be made into steaks. When most folks inquire about half a cow beef cut options, they often ask for ways they can get the least ground beef and the most steaks.

Picture it like this, the butcher has a giant bowl set to the side for ground beef. All of the trimmings as their working and anything you select to "grind" on your cut sheet goes into that bowl. When the butcher is done, all of the beef in that bowl is ground together into ground beef and packed together. Even if you don't choose to grind any sections of your half cow, you will still get a good amount of ground beef, typically 30-40lbs. The "grind" selection is available for each section of the cow. 

If you choose ground chuck, ground brisket, ground round, etc. that means the butcher will take that specific section, grind it separately, and pack and label it separately. More on that later! 

Chuck

The chuck, which is the shoulder of the steer, is known for its delicious fatty goodness. Fat equals flavor, y'all. The chuck section is a very large section of the steer that can be made into a variety of different cuts. Since the shoulder tends to bear a significant amount of weight, the beef needs some cook time to break down the tissues to make the meat tender. All of the fat means that you won't need too much help in the flavor department and your risk of the beef becoming dry is very low. The chuck section yields approximately 40 pounds of meat per half cow. 

Ground Chuck 

Ground chuck is made when the butcher takes the shoulder section, trims it from the bones, grinds the trimmings, and packs it separately from the rest of the ground beef. Typically, you will see ground chuck have a 80/20 lean to fat ratio. This is great for meatballs and making your own burgers, as the fat helps it stick together. 

Chuck Roast

By far, the superior roast, in my opinion. With all of the fat, the flavor is awesome! It doesn't need a whole lot of extra TLC like many other roasts do due to their lack of fat. The bone will give it extra flavor. If you select boneless, the roast will come trussed with either twine or a net wrap. 

Chuck Steaks

Bone-in and boneless options here. Typically, for a subcategory of chuck steaks that we call "boneless chuck steaks", which are more tender than the main chuck steaks. These are: Denver, Ranch, Flat Iron, or Chuck Eye. Our butcher cuts Denver and Ranch steaks small, under 6 ounches. Flat Irons and Chuck Eye are a lesser known but delicious cut. For your straight up bone-in or boneless chuck steaks under the main category, they will have good flavor. Just remember, since the shoulder gets a lot of work, they aren't going to be as tender as a filet. 

Stew Meat

Stew meat in a half cow means that the butcher takes the chuck section, cubes it, and packs it into one-pound packs. This is a great option if you like to just crack open a pack, dump it into the crock pot, and forget it. 

Brisket

The brisket is the lower chest area. The brisket it responsible for supporting approximately 60% of the steer's weight. Due to all of that work and connective tissues, cooking the brisket requires a little finesse and a lot of time. 

Typically, you'll see the brisket kept whole or cut in half. Our butcher gives the option to make ground brisket, similar to ground chuck, but only on a whole cow. 

When leaving your brisket whole or cutting it in half, choosing to get your brisket untrimmed is smart. Meaning the butcher is going to leave most of the fat on. If the butcher trims the brisket, depending on the butcher, they may trim all of the fat off. This is how our butcher does it. Check with your butcher or farmer to know exactly how they will cut the brisket. 

Since brisket requires a long cook time to tenderize the tissues, the fat around it keeps the meat from drying out. Fear not, you don't need a fancy smoker or a ton of experience to make brisket taste delicious. Our Beef E-Cookbook has a delicious recipe for tender oven-roasted brisket. 

Shank

The shank section is truly between the shoulder and the knee of the steer. It is the leg. The cuts are very distinct, as they have a bone in the center with the meat around it in a disc shape. 

Customers do have the option to get the shank whole; however, we rarely see this. The legs carry a lot of weight, obviously. So these cuts are tough and best braised and cooked low and slow to break down the tissues for a tender and flavorful dish. Don't shy away from the marrow - it's delicious and is loaded with nutrients.

Osso Buco

Larger discs with a thickness over two inches are considered Osso Buco.

Soup Bones

When the discs are cut smaller, they are considered soup bones.

Rib

Cue the singing Angels. The Rib section. Tender and flavorful. The rib section is a great indicator of the quality and grade of the entire steer. If the steer was raised and finished properly, the rib section will be heavily marbled with streaks of fat throughout.

Bone-In Rib Steak

Technically, a steak is an -eye (like ribeye) if it is boneless. If it is bone-in, it is simply called a steak. When the bone-in rib steak is left with a few inches of bone on it, it's called a cowboy steak. If it is left with the entire rib bone intact, that is called your Tomahawk steak. Our butcher does not cut Cowboys or Tomahawks, but at least you can get it bone-in and know you're getting all of that delicious beef. 

Boneless Ribeye

Otherwise known as a delmonico. Pretty straight forward that it is a boneless steak cut. 

Prime Rib Roast

The centerpiece of many Christmas dinner tables. The prime rib roast can be left whole (otherwise known as a seven-bone roast), cut according to your roast weight specifications, or it can be cut into one four-bone and one three-bone roast. 

Loin

Don't you dare grind this, y'all. The loin section holds the most well-known cuts. A fun fact that most people may not know is that a t-bone and porterhouse are the same exact cut. When looking at a t-bone or porterhouse, it is actually the NY strip on one side and filet on the other. When the filet is over 1.25 inches wide, it is a porterhouse. Whenthe filet is under 1.25 inches wide, it is a t-bone. 

If you choose boneless steaks, you'd get filets and NY strips. If you choose to keep the steaks large and bone-in, you'll get t-bones and porterhouses. It doesn't get more simple than that. Either way you cut it, you'll get a variety of sizes since cattle aren't perfectly square. 

Plate

This rib plate section is the section most folks think of when they think of the ribs. Fatty and flavorful! The rib plate needs either a cook marinade or a long cook to break down the tissues. You can get the plate cut as a whole plate, otherwise known as Dino-bones. We don't typically recommend this unless you have experience with the whole plate, as they can be upwards of 16 pounds. 

Short Ribs

If you can picture the ribs coming down vertically, the butcher cuts horizontally every two inches and sections out two bones for each piece. Typically, these come in 3-4 pound packs with several rib pieces inside. 

Korean Style Ribs

Otherwise known as franken ribs, korean style ribs are cut very thin, approximately 1/2-inch. Typically, they are 4-5 bones across. 

Round

The round is split up into several sections - the eye round, the top round, and the bottom round. The round is a lean tough section as it bears a lot of weight and gets a lot of exercise. Tougher cuts require time to break down those fibers, either through a marinade or cook time, or both. Lean means no fat, so it will need a little help in the flavor department.

Roasts

As mentioned, round roasts are lean and on the tough side. They'll need some extra love and time. 

Steaks

While the round can be cut into steaks, it typically isn't recommended for a slap on the grill with some salt and pepper. If anything, folks have the option to get cube steaks. Cube steak is where the butcher cuts the round into steaks and runs the steaks through a tenderizer. Then, you'd take your grandma's favorite recipe and dredge, fry, and pour gravy over top for country-fried steak. 

Shaved beef

Just like cheesesteak meat. This is a fan favorite. Sliced very thin, shaved beef is great for cheesesteaks, stir-fry, pho, and more. A great option for making good use of the round section. 

Fajita meat

Cut into fajita strips. Dump in the pan and season. Talk about easy. 

Kabob meat

Cubed round packed in one-pound packs. This is great for a last minute weeknight dump-and-go meal, although they could use a marinade if you have the time. 

Flank

It's a little odd that this is a section all on it's own, since the flank is pretty small. From our butcher, there is only one flank steak per half cow. It's a thin cut, approximately 12-inches in length.  

Beef E-Cookbook and More Half Cow Resources

BEEF E-COOKBOOK for a walk through of each section, the cuts that can be made from each section, and delicious recipes for each cut option available. Plus! A guide to cooking the perfect steak and a bunch of our favorite recipes for ground beef to mix up your mundane menu. 

If you're wondering how the entire process works from drop off at the processor to pick up, how everything is priced, timeline and more, check out our article The Process, Pricing, and Timeline of Buying a Whole or Half Cow from field to freezer. 

For how much meat to expect, as far as the number of beef cuts with half cow inventory sheet examples, our How Much Meat to Expect in a Whole or Half Cow article will get you what you need. 

Lastly, if you're wondering how much freezer or cooler space you'll need for your half cow, our article on on How Much Freezer Space Do I Need for Whole or Half Cow or Pig will give you estimates so you can make all of the necessary preparations.

 

Please note that the information in these articles are based on what our steers yield at Hayfield Farm and what our local butcher shop's practices are.
If you are purchasing from a different farm, your hanging weight, meat (finished) weight, cut options, pricing, and packaging may be different. 


meat in a half cow

How Much Meat in a Half Cow?

How Much Meat in a Half Cow?

If you're not a farmer or a butcher, how are you supposed to know how much meat is in a half cow?

How much meat is in a half cow? How many steak cuts should you expect? Are you going to be drowning in ground beef?

First things first. While farmers have target weights, cattle are not perfect clones of each other. The amount of meat you will receive in a half cow (or whole cow) depends on what that specific animal yields. Additionally, when buying a whole or half cow, each section is custom cut by the customer's specifications. All examples provided here are just that, examples of what past customers have chosen.

Hanging Weight

At Hayfield Farm, our pricing for half/whole beef is based on the hanging weight. Most farms price their bulk meat this way. Our post, Hanging Weight: Explained, goes into detail about what the hanging weight is and why bulk meat is often priced by the hanging weight.

Total Pounds of Meat to Expect

Our whole beef hang at approximately 800 pounds and our half beef hang at approximately 400 pounds. You can expect approximately 600-650 pounds of meat from a whole cow and 250-300 pounds of meat from a half cow.

Sample Inventory Sheets

Below are a few inventory sheets from previous whole and half beef orders. These examples will give you an idea for how much meat you can expect from a half cow or whole cow. Since customers get to choose their own cuts, you'll see some variances.

See our Beef Resources page for everything you need to know about buying beef in bulk. 

Whole Beef 

13 packs of stew meat
2 packs of marrow bones
129 pounds of ground beef, 1lb packs
4 half untrimmed briskets
8 packs of korean style ribs
3 packs of 2" short ribs
11 packs of osso bucco
31 bone-in ribeye, 1"
51 pounds of ground chuck, 1lb packs
5 boneless chuck roast, 3-4lbs
12 flat irons
10 chuck eye
2 whole flanks
7 porterhouses, 1"
7 T-bones, 1"
22 boneless filet, 1"
14 NY strip, 1"
32 boneless petite sirloin strips, 1"
4 half eye round roasts
4 top round roasts, 3-4lbs
8 london broil
3 bottom round roasts, 3-4lbs
8 packs of cube steaks
7 sirloin tip roasts, 3-4lbs
2 whole tri tip
1 tongue
2 skirt steaks
3 packs of ox tail
1 hanging tender
14 packs of liver
4 packs of heart
2 packs of kidney

Half Beef

9 packs of stew meat
17 packs of 1/3 burger patties
29 pounds of ground beef, 1lb packs
1 whole trimmed brisket
4 packs of 2" short ribs
4 packs of osso bucco
16 3/4" boneless delmonico
50 pounds of ground chuck, 1lb packs
10 ranch steaks
6 flat irons
11 boneless filet, 3/4"
20 NY strip, 3/4"
7 bone-in sirloin steaks, 3/4"
3 packs of kabob meat
7 london broil
4 bottom round roast, 2-3lbs
1 whole tri tip
1 tongue
1 skirt steak
1 hanging tender
10 packs of liver
2 packs of kidney

Half Beef

10 packs of stew meat
3 packs of marrow bones
8 packs of beef fat
32 pounds of ground beef, 1lb packs
2 untrimmed half briskets
6 packs of soup bones
12 bone-in ribeye, 1"
44 pounds of ground chuck, 1lb packs
6 flat irons
4 chuck eye steaks
1 whole flank
12 boneless filet, 1"
9 NY strip, 1"
12 boneless petite sirloin strips, 1"
2 half eye round roasts
3 top round roasts, 3-4lbs
2 bottom round roasts, 3-4lbs
3 sirloin tip roasts, 3-4lbs
1 whole tri tip


From Field to Freezer: The Process, Pricing, and Timeline of Buying a Whole + Half Cow

Custom Whole + Half Beef

the process of buying beef, from field to freezer

 

First things first...

Read over this blog and check out the Halves + Wholes Page in the Resources section about how much meat to expect and sample inventory sheets, how much cooler space you'll need for pick up, how much freezer space you'll need for storage, and our guides for filling out the cut sheets. You are about to make an investment - please be sure to learn everything you can using these resources we've provided. 


The Timeline and Butcher Date

The butcher date is the day that we, Hayfield Farm, take the live steer to the butcher shop. We all know what happens there. This is the date customers book with us. This is not the pick up date. Beef processing takes approximately four weeks to complete from the butcher date to pick up.

Our Halves + Wholes Page shows the approximate next available butcher date, so you can get a ballpark idea on a timeline. When you fill out your cut sheet and pay your deposit, we will email you your exact butcher date based on our schedule. We must have your cut sheet and deposit to reserve your butcher date for you.


The Cut Sheet

One of the most intimidating pieces of the bulk meat process is the cut sheet. The cut sheet is your custom specifications of how you want each section of the steer to be cut and packaged. Luckily! We have made the cut sheet forms easy to fill out. 

Half Beef Cut Sheet // Whole Beef Cut Sheet


Behind the Scenes at the Butcher Shop

Each farm that works with our local butcher, Fauquier's Finest, is scheduled at the beginning of the year for their butcher slots. At Hayfield Farm, we send multiple livestock to the butcher each and every month.

Why do you care about that?
#1 ...because it gives you an idea on timing if you aren't ready to book just yet. If our Halves + Wholes Page says that our next available butcher date for beef is early this month, you would be correct in assuming that we have open, unreserved butcher dates for later this month, all next month, and so on.
#2 ...because some farms only butcher a certain time of year - but not us! We are lucky enough (thanks to you!) to have a customer base that requires us to raise hogs and steers all year round. 

Our butcher is USDA-inspected. This means that from livestock drop-off to customer pick up, the butcher shop is required to maintain extremely strict humane and cleanliness standards under the constant supervision of a USDA-inspector. 

We deliver the livestock, the butcher takes your cut sheet and dresses, cuts, packs, weighs, labels, and flash freezes all of your beef cuts, according to your specifications. The butcher first breaks down the beef into primal cuts. Chuck (shoulder), midsection, hindquarter (round), etc.
The butcher then cuts off the roasts, loins, ribs, and other sections. Using your cut sheet specifications, the butcher hand trims all of your cuts - this is not done by machine. All of the trimmings go into a pile to be ground for ground beef. If roasts are desired, they are cut to your weight specifications. Steaks are sliced, ribs are trimmed, rounds are shaved (if you desired). You get the idea. 

Once all of the meat is cut, everything is vacuum packed with commercial grade packaging, labeled with the name of the cuts and weight, and flash frozen. Bone guards are used for bone-in cuts to protect packaging from piercing. With proper handling and storage, this grade of vacuum seal keeps beef cuts for over two years. You will not be able to get your beef unfrozen, as this is against USDA standards. 


Pricing

A non-refundable $500.00 deposit is required to reserve a butcher date with us and is paid directly after completing the cut sheet. Please do not complete the cut sheet if you are not prepared to be automatically redirected to pay the $500 deposit immediately afterward. Cut sheets submitted without a deposit are automatically deleted and you will need to fill out and submit a new sheet (and pay the deposit) to book with us. This deposit goes toward your total beef cost. 

The cost is $4.50 per pound on the hanging weight, with all processing fees included. Typical hanging weight on a Hayfield Farm whole beef is 800lbs. Typical hanging weight on a Hayfield Farm half beef is 400lbs. These weights are approximate. 

With a 400lb hanging weight on a half beef, customers can expect to pay $1,800, plus tax, total. With an 800lb hanging weight on a whole beef, customers can expect to pay $3,600, plus tax, total. Please remember hanging weights vary from steer to steer. These weights and pricing are approximate

All payments are made to us, Hayfield Farm. The deposit is paid when you complete the cut sheet. The remaining balance is paid via invoice when your beef is complete, before pick up.

A note from the farmer about hanging weights:

Hanging weights can vary greatly from farm to farm. A farm's feeding practices, breed selection, live/hanging/finish weight goals, finishing prioritization, etc. all have a great impact on the hanging weight of cattle. At Hayfield Farm, we have very specific goals for our steer's live weight, hanging weight, and finish weight (the weight of the meat). We prioritize finishing our angus and angus-cross steers at the optimal age of 18-24 months old (that's a long time!) and at a live weight of 1,200-1,300lbs. Finishing simply means that the steer has gained enough weight and has developed the body composition that make it ideal for market, which means it will produce the amount of beef and quality of beef that is expected from the producer (farmer).

Improper finishing or sending steers to market too early is like painting a wall without primer. Yes, it will work, you will get a painted wall at the end of the day - but is it really the quality that it should be? No. Are you giving respect to the animal that you just raised for meat by not letting it reach its full potential? We don't think so. We invest time, money, and effort into our steers to be sure that they have reached their full potential, at the appropriate age and ideal weight, and will produce the amount of beef and quality of beef that is expected by us and our customers. 

This long-term commitment to our steers pays out in premium beef. 


Pick Up

Once your beef is complete, the butcher notifies us. We will email you immediately with pick up details and send the remaining balance invoice to your email shortly after. 

  • The butcher shop does not give order status updates to us. They will only notify us when your beef is ready for pick up. 
  • Customers are required to pay the remaining balance invoice prior to pick up
  • Pick up is at the butcher shop - not at Hayfield Farm. 
  • Customers are required to pick up their meat from the butcher shop within seven (7) business days of notification.

The butcher shop, Fauquier's Finest, is located at 11746 Ag Industrial Drive, Bealeton VA. Pick up hours are Monday-Friday 9am-4pm. 

When you arrive, check in at the front office by letting them know you are picking up beef for *your last name* under Hayfield Farm. You do not owe the butcher any payment. The staff will hand you an inventory sheet and direct you to the loading dock. They will roll out your cart filled with beef and you will load up your coolers before heading home to stock your freezer with natural, local, delicious beef!


Thank you so much for supporting your local farmer!


cut sheet whole cow

Filling Out a Cut Sheet for a Whole Cow

Whole Cow Cut Sheet

Here, we break down the cut sheet for a whole cow in simple terms so you can get it filled out quickly and reserve that Butcher Date.
When you're ready to get started - fill out the Whole Beef Cut Sheet. Helpful tip - pull this page and the cut sheet up at the same time.

Want information about the butcher date, pricing, and timeline? Visit our full guide on the process.
Want info on how much meat to expect, how much freezer space you'll need, and more? Visit the Resources section on our Beef Page.

Prefer a half cow? The cut sheets are different. Head on over to our Filling Out a Cut Sheet for a Half Cow.  

Ok, here we go!

First, fill out the boxes with your contact information.

Steak Thickness: Totally your preference. If you've had our steaks before, we do 1 inch. The thicker your steaks are, the less steaks you will have. The thinner your steaks are, the more steaks you will have. The butcher will cut all steaks to your selected thickness.

Roast Weight: A good rule of thumb is 3/4lb-1lb of meat per adult.

Ground Beef: Your preference on how large you would like your ground beef packs.
Your ground beef consists of any trimmings and any section you choose to "Grind". The "Grind" selection in each section of your cut sheet means that the meat from that section goes into your bulk ground beef pile and is ground together. Ground Chuck, Ground Sirloin, and Ground Round mean that the butcher takes that section, grinds the meat, and packages/labels it separately from your Ground Beef. Our cattle typically yield a 90/10 ground beef lean to fat ratio. If you choose to grind fatty sections, like the chuck or ribs, your fat percentage will increase. If you choose to grind lean sections, like the round, your fat percentage will decrease.

Ground Beef Patties

25 pounds maximum. Select your preferred patty size and how many pounds total you would like in patties. If you have had our ground beef patties before, we do 1/4lb patties and they come four to a pack. The patties have butcher paper in between.

Stew Meat

Stew Meat in this section (it will appear again in another section later) is the trimmings of the beef that are just a little too good to go with your bulk ground beef. Stew Meat is small hunks of meat packaged in ~1lb packs.

Beef Fat

3-4lb packages. Mix in with venison or render it down for tallow.

Bones

2-4 bones per package. Select "Yes" if you would like all bones. If you would like just marrow bones, select "Yes" and make a note at the bottom of the cut sheet that says "marrow bones only".

Front Quarter - Brisket

From the chest section. There is only one brisket per half cow. If it is trimmed, the butcher will take all of the fat off, leaving you with a whole trimmed brisket at 5-6 pounds. If it is untrimmed, the butcher will take off the large hump of fat connected to this cut, but leave the rest of the fat intact. A whole untrimmed brisket weighs about 12-14 pounds. Our briskets in the Farm Shop are cut in half, untrimmed. If you plan to smoke your briskets, leave it untrimmed. Two selections allowed.

Front Quarter - Rib Plate

The rib cage. 2-inch short ribs are standard beef ribs and come four ribs to a package. Korean style ribs are thin cross-cut short ribs. A whole rib plate is about 10-12lbs. Grinding this section will make the fat percentage on your ground beef go up. Two selections allowed.

Front Quarter - Rib

A bone-in rib roast is prime rib. On a half beef, there will be one four-bone rib roast and one three-bone rib roast or you can c. You can also choose bone-in rib steaks (bone-in ribeye) or boneless ribeyes, aka Delmonicos. Two selections allowed.

Front Quarter - Shank

This section is from the knee to the ankle; the shin. Osso Bucco is the shank cut horizontal in 1.5" discs, with the bone in the middle and the meat around it. Soup bones are cut the same way, but in 1" discs. A whole shank is approximately 7-8 pounds. Two selections allowed.

Front Quarter - Chuck

The shoulder; fatty and flavorful. Ground Chuck is where the butcher grinds the chuck section and packages it separately. Ground Chuck has more fat in the lean to fat ratio, closer to 80/20, and is perfect for forming meatballs, meatloaf, or your own patties. Two selections allowed.

Front Quarter - Boneless Chuck Steaks

Choose as many of these as you'd like. This is a separate section from the chuck. Ranch and Denver steaks are heavily marbled, very small steaks. Flat irons are thin and tender. Chuck eyes are about the size of a NY strip but have the fat distribution similar to a ribeye - one of the most underrated cuts. Our recommendation is to get all of them!

Hind Quarter - Flank

There is only one flank per half a cow. Great to marinate and throw on the grill. Two selections allowed.

Hind Quarter - Short Loin

Everyone's favorite. The only wrong choice is to grind it. Two selections allowed.

Hind Quarter - Sirloin

Ground Sirloin is where the butcher grinds the sirloin section and packages it separately. Ground Sirloin is lean and has a lean to fat ratio closer to 95/5. Bone-in sirloin steaks can weigh over a pound. If you've ever had our sirloin strips, they are the petite top strip. Two selections allowed.

Hind Quarter - Eye Round

A lean, tougher section. Great for low and slow recipes. There is only one eye round roast per half beef. Kabob meat is hunks of meat packaged in roughly one pound packages, similar to stew meat. Two selections allowed.

Hind Quarter - Top Round

Customers choose round round for a leaner ground beef option. Shaved beef is thinly sliced, perfect for cheesesteaks or stir fry. Fajita meat is thinly sliced strips for, you guessed it, fajitas! Two selections allowed.

Hind Quarter - Bottom Round

Similar options to the top round, but you can choose kabob meat or cube steak. Two selections allowed.

Hind Quarter - Sirloin Tip

Small section, which is closest section of the hind quarter to the center. Usually two or so roasts per half. Sirloin tip steaks are larger, leaner steaks. Two selections allowed.

Hind Quarter - Tri Tip

Only one tri tip per half cow. Very marbled, great for the grill. Two selections allowed.

Organs

You may choose as many of these as you'd like. We always recommend keeping the skirt and hanging tender, as they are great steak cuts. Keep the rest if you are an adventurous cook, have neighbors that will take it, or for your favorite pooch!

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half cow

Filling Out a Cut Sheet for a Half Cow

Filling Out a Cut Sheet for a Half Cow

Filling out a cut sheet is one of the most daunting pieces in the process of buying half a cow. Here, we break it down in simple terms straight from the farmer. 

Open up our Half Beef Cut Sheet Form to follow along with this article as you fill it out. 
Want to learn more? Visit our Beef Page for many articles about purchasing beef in bulk. 

A few things to keep in mind...

Our butcher, Fauquier's Finest, only allows a certain number of selections per section on the half. Most sections will only allow you to select one option. Our butcher will only cut beef according to the cut sheet. Requests beyond what is listed on the cut sheet will not be honored.

Secondly, the amount of beef you get depends on what your specific steer yields. Visit our How Much Meat is in Half a Cow? page to read more about what to expect and to see some examples of what half beef customers have received in the past.

Lastly, these decisions are up to you! Keep in mind what your family eats throughout the week and what you may want for any events. To see how cuts are packaged and how things look, visit our Farm Shop - we carry most of the cuts available here. 

Ok, here we go!

First, fill out the boxes with your contact info.

Steak Thickness: Totally your preference. If you've had our steaks before, we do 1 inch. The thicker your steaks are, the less steaks you will have. The thinner your steaks are, the more steaks you will have. The butcher will cut all steaks to your selected thickness.

Roast Weight: A good rule of thumb is 3/4lb-1lb of meat per adult.

Ground Beef: Your preference on the weight of your ground beef packs.
Your ground beef consists of any trimmings and any section you choose to "Grind". The "Grind" selection in each section of your cut sheet means that the meat from that section goes into your bulk ground beef pile and is ground together. Ground Chuck, Ground Sirloin, and Ground Round mean that the butcher takes that section, grinds the meat, and packages/labels it separately from your Ground Beef. Our cattle typically yield a 90/10 ground beef lean to fat ratio. If you do not select to "Grind" any section on the cut sheet, you will receive approximately 40lbs of ground beef from the trimmings. 

Ground Beef Patties

25 pounds maximum. Select your preferred patty size and how many pounds total you would like in patties. If you have had our ground beef patties before, we do 1/4lb patties and they come four to a pack. The patties have butcher paper in between. Our butcher packs four (4) patties per pack.

Stew Meat

Stew Meat in this section (it will appear again in another section later) is the trimmings of the beef that are just a little too good to go with your bulk ground beef and is small hunks of meat packaged in ~1lb packs.

Beef Fat

3-4lb packages. Mix in with venison or render it down for tallow.

Bones

3-4lbs of bones per package. If you choose all, you will get all of the bones. This included knuckles, shank, marrow, and more. You will need more cooler space than what is recommended if you get all of the bones. If you would like marrow bones only, you will get 2-3 packages of marrow bones. 

Brisket

From the chest section. There is only one brisket per half cow. If it is trimmed, the butcher will take all of the fat off. If it is untrimmed, the butcher will take off the large hump of fat connected to this cut, but leave the rest of the fat intact. A whole untrimmed brisket weighs about 12-14 pounds. We typically carry briskets that are cut in half and untrimmed, which can be 5-9lbs. 

Rib Plate

The rib cage. 2inch short ribs are standard beef ribs and come approximately four ribs to a package. Korean style ribs are thin cross-cut short ribs. If you don't want either, grind it. 

Shank

This section is from the knee to the ankle; the shin. Osso Bucco is the shank cut horizontal in 1.5" discs, with the bone in the middle and the meat around it - there will be 2-4 bones per package. Soup bones are cut the same way, but in 1" discs.

Rib

Prime rib is an impressive cut for holiday meals. On a half beef, the prime rib will follow your roast weight selection or you can select the whole roast. You can also choose bone-in rib steaks (bone-in ribeye) or boneless ribeyes, aka Delmonicos.

Chuck

The shoulder; fatty and flavorful. Ground Chuck is where the butcher grinds the chuck section and packages it separately. Ground Chuck has more fat in the lean to fat ratio, closer to 80/20, and is perfect for forming meatballs, meatloaf, or your own patties. You can also choose between chuck steak options, bone-in chuck roast, or stew meat. If you were going to keep any roast, this is the one to keep! 

Boneless Chuck Steaks

Choose as many of these as you'd like. This is a separate section from the chuck. Ranch and Denver steaks are heavily marbled, very small steaks. Flat irons are thin and tender. Chuck eyes are about the size of a NY strip but have the fat distribution similar to a ribeye - one of the most underrated cuts. Our recommendation is to get all of them!

Flank

There is only one flank per half a cow. Great to marinate and throw on the grill. 

Short Loin

Everyone's favorite section. No wrong choices here.

Sirloin

Ground Sirloin is where the butcher grinds the sirloin section and packages it separately. Ground Sirloin is lean and has a lean to fat ratio closer to 95/5. Bone-in sirloin steaks can weigh over a pound. If you've ever had our sirloin strips, they are the petite top strip, a traditional sirloin strip. Top strips are slightly larger than the petite. 

Eye Round

From the lean round section. Great for low and slow recipes. There is only one eye round roast per half beef. Kabob meat is hunks of meat packaged in roughly one pound packages, similar to stew meat.

Top Round

Customers choose ground round for a leaner ground beef option. Shaved beef is thinly sliced, perfect for cheesesteaks or stir fry. Fajita meat is thinly sliced strips for, you guessed it, fajitas! London broils are a smaller roast style. 

Bottom Round

Similar options to the top round, but you can choose kabob meat or cube steak. Cube steak is double tenderized. 

Sirloin Tip

Small section, which is closest section of the hind quarter to the center. Usually two or so roasts per half. Sirloin tip steaks are larger, leaner steaks.

Tri Tip

Only one tri tip per half cow. Very marbled, great for the grill.

Inside Steaks

The skirt and hanger. There is only one of each per half, but they are worth it. Due to restrictions by our processor, inside steaks are only available to one side of the beef. If getting these is very important to you, please make a note in the notebox at checkout when you pay your deposit. This may mean we have to move your reservation to the next butcher date to ensure you get these if there is already a reservation for the "inside steak half" of your prospective butcher date. If you can take them or leave them, make your selection, but don't put a note. 

Organs

You may choose as many of these as you'd like. We do recommend keeping the skirt and hanging tender, as they are great steak cuts. Keep the rest of you are an adventurous cook or for your favorite pooch! Due to restrictions by our processor, organs are only available to one side of the beef. If getting these is very important to you, please make a note in the notebox at checkout when you pay your deposit. This may mean we have to move your reservation to the next butcher date to ensure you get these if there is already a reservation for the "organs half" of your prospective butcher date. If you can take them or leave them, make your selection, but don't put a note. 

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freezer space half cow

How Much Freezer Space For A Half Cow?

How Much Freezer Space Do I Need For a Half Cow? 

When determining how much freezer space you'll need for your half cow, please note that the amount of beef you will get from a half or whole cow or pig varies from farm to farm. Please do not use these calculations for other farm's beef unless you know the hanging weight/finish weight will be similar.

If you select to receive all of the bones, fat, and organs in your half beef, you should anticipate needing more than the recommended amount of space below. 

Half Cow Freezer and Cooler Space

The beef from a half cow from Hayfield Farm fills approximately 300 quarts of cooler space 10 cubic feet of freezer space , minimum. 

Whole Cow Freezer and Cooler Space

The beef from a whole cow from Hayfield Farm fills approximately 600 quarts of cooler space or 20 cubic feet of freezer space, minimum

A Few More Tips

  1. It is much better to have more space and not need it, than to need it and not have it. 
  2. Life is much easier if you have your freezer space cleared out before you pick up your beef.
  3. Keep your inventory sheet on the door and mark off items as you go. That way, you'll know which cuts you have left and you can make notes to know what you liked and didn't like for your next half beef. 
  4. Keep in mind that the recommended space above are round numbers to make determining how much cooler and freezer space you need easy!

Snag your half or whole beef or check out articles for everything you need to know about purchasing bulk beef on our Beef Page!