“How much does a cow cost?” and other frequently asked questions relating to the purchase of a Side or Whole Beef.

“How much does a cow cost?” and other frequently asked questions relating to the purchase of a Whole, Side, or Quarter/Split Side Beef.

How much does a cow cost? First, this is a difficult question to answer simply. Are we talking a Whole Beef, Side, or Quarter/Slit Side? Below you will find information.

Should I purchase a Whole, Side, or Quarter/Split Side Beef? Depending on the source of data, the average American adult is reported to consume about 50-80lbs of beef a year. One of our Wholes provides, on average, 375lbs of meat. Two adults with 2 children can easily be fed for a year, or more, on a Whole Beef at the 80lbs per adult rate. If you have teenagers, especially ones playing sports, you definitely want to consider a Whole Beef. Depending on beef consumption an average family might very well eat for a year on a Side. Where as, for the individual or couple a Quarter/Split Side might be sufficient.

Our average calf will dress out at 550lbs (Hanging Weight). This weight will vary depending on the time of year and individual animal. Our price is based on hanging weight and includes all fees and packaging costs. Currently, we ask $4.95lb, based on hanging weight, for a Whole Beef, $5.25lb for a Side, and $6.00lb for a Quarter/Split Side.

Whole Beef Example:

Hanging Weight: 550lbs

Price/Pound  X  $4.95

Total             $2,722.50

Deposit          <$800.00>


Total Due      $1,922.50 At Pick Up

Side Example:

Hanging Weight: 275lbs

Price/pound  X $5.25

Total           $1,443.75

Deposit       <$500.00>


Total Due      $943.50 At Pick Up

Quarter/Split Side Example:

Hanging Weight: 137 lbs

Price/pound x   $6.00

Total              $822.00

Deposit       <$250.00>


Total Due       $572.00 at Pick Up

How much beef do I get to put in my freezer? The actual yield on our Whole Beef will vary depending how it is cut, individual animal, etc. Of course, a beef cut with bones in will have a higher yield than one cut boneless. On average we see a 68% yield on Hanging Weight. From a 550lb carcass we would expect about 375lbs of product. Approximately 50% of that product will be Ground Beef.

How much per pound for finished product? Using the numbers from above:

Whole Beef:       $2,722.50 / 375lbs  =  $7.26/lb.

Side Beef:          $1,512.50 / 188lbs  =  $7.70/lb.

Quarter/ Beef:           $822.00 / 94lbs = $8.75/lb.

Average Cut Yield (in pounds) for Whole Beef based on 550lb carcass:  

Ground Beef                                                  180-190

Tenderloin Steaks                                           5-7

Whole Tenderloin                                            6-8

New York Steak                                             14-16

Rib Eye Steak (Boneless)                              14-16

Top Sirloin                                                      13-15

Sirloin Tip Roast                                             12-16

Flank Steak                                                     2-3

Skirt Steak                                                       4-5

Chuck Roast (Bone In)                                    20-22

Brisket                                                              7-10

Short Ribs                                                        7-10

Tri Tip Roast                                                     3-4

Stew Meat                                                         5-10

London Broil                                                     18-20

Eye of Round Roast                                          6-8

Bottom Round/Rump Roast                              7-9

Liver                                                                  3-5

Heart                                                                  2-4

Tongue                                                               1-2

Oxtail                                                                  3-5


This list is meant to represent the typical yield (by the pound) of a particular cut for a Whole Beef and merely to provide the purchaser of a Whole Beef a general idea of what to expect. Individual yields will vary depending on how the beef is cut, the processor, and the individual animal. This list also does not represent all the cuts available on a Whole Beef.

Why are T-Bone and Porterhouse Steaks not available on beef over 30 months of age? The USDA requires all cattle over the age of 30 months of age at time of processing to have their spines pulled to be tested for BSE (aka Mad Cow Disease). The spine is an integral part of the steaks in question.

Is Vacuum Packing Included? Yes. In the past some processors have refused to pack Ground Beef in vacuum packs. But we hope to have this issue worked out going into the future.

Can I get Organ Meats? The common Organ Meats are Liver, Heart, and Tongue. So far, we have only encountered one processor who refused to return organ meats. We no longer use that butcher.

Can I get Tripe? At this point in time, no, we have not encountered a processor with the special equipment required to process tripe. When we find one, we will be sure to let you know.

Can I get the hide?  We have yet to find a processor willing to give up the hides. They sell them to offset some of their other costs. Hides from pretty cattle like ours bring a premium price. We are still working on this one to change the answer to “yes”.

Can I get the Ears, Hooves, Cheeks, Brains, etc? We have yet to find a butcher willing or able to process these items. There are USDA regulations blocking some. And the processor, again, sells these parts to a renderer to offset other costs. Also, again, we are working on this one for the Nose to Tail folks. We will let you know when we have better news.

Can we get Hot Dogs and other Beef Sausage? Not at the moment. We have been working on that option for several years and may have found a solution. Stay tuned.

Beef Jerky and Beef Sticks? See Hot Dogs and Beef Sausage.

How do I order a Whole, Side, or Quarter/Split Side Beef? The process is pretty simple really. Go to the appropriate page on our website. Whole Beef here. Side of Beef here. Quarter/Split Side here. There you have to make a choice. Either. 1) pay for the deposit online, download and fill out an sign the order form, send the form to us either by USPS or email or 2) download the form, fill out and sign, and mail signed form to us with your deposit check. Your order will be put toward the next available beef. We will contact you to confirm review your order and inform you when your order will be available for pick up.

Why can't I choose cuts on a Quarter/Split Side order? Because the Side is split with another order, all cuts must be the same so the side may be evenly split between the two orders.

Can I change my cut order after submitting my form? You can alter you order at any point up until we take the beef in for processing.

Can I cancel my order? You can do that. But understand that deposits are non refundable, as stated at the bottom of our order form.

Why are your deposits so high? The deposit is based on our cost of processing your order, butcher fees, hauling, etc. Expenses we have to cover before receiving your final payment. It also serves as a reservation for a beef, which if the customer backs out, we have to either scramble to sell the beef, or possibly take a loss on it. Also, we have never met a butcher that was happy about canceled appointments. The good thing is that the deposit is fully applied to your final bill, easing that financial pain.

How much freezer space do I need? Figure around 9 cubic feet for a Side and 18 cu. ft. for a Whole. It is year’s worth of beef, for most, after all.

How do I get my beef home? While we sometimes have boxes available, we ask that you bring containers for transportation, preferably insulated. In cooler speak; figure the equivalent of 2-3 70quart coolers for a side and 4-5 70qt coolers for a Whole.

Can I pick out my beef? Yes, you are welcome to visit the farm and choose your beef. We have done this before and is not a problem what so ever. It actually takes some pressure off of us when deciding who has to go.

We hope this answered some of your questions. We understand a Whole or Side of Beef is a relatively large investment. It is, for most, a year’s worth of beef. The cut choices can be confusing (after more than 10 years we are still learning).  If you have other questions, feel free to contact us via email (info@sarverheritagefarm.com) or phone (1 304 647-5482).