For some general information consider checking out, Beef – It’s What’s For Dinner and Beef Made Easy - Retail Beef Cuts and Recommended Cooking Methods. These are great websites with additional information on cuts, cooking recipes, nutrition, news, and raising beef.
What is the difference between “Live Weight,” “Hanging Weight,”and “Final Weight or Take-Home Weight”?
“Live Weight” is how much the animal weighed on the hoof, or when it was alive. We aim for each of our animals to weigh about 1200 lbs live weight. We base our prices off this estimated weight. Your total cost will be available to you as soon as we have the hanging weight for your portion of beef.
“Hanging Weight” is the weight given to us by the butcher after the beef has been harvested and hung at the butcher shop. The hanging weight is usually about 60% of the live weight. For example, a 1200 lb animal would have an estimated hanging weight of 720 lbs. Subsequently, a half share would be around 360 lbs, and a quarter share would be around 180 lbs. The butcher also charges harvest and cut/wrap fees based on the weight and extra if a customer has requested additional bones or organ meats.
“Final" or "Take-Home Weight” is the weight of meat that each customer receives to put in their freezer. This weight is usually around 60-65% of the hanging weight. For example, a 180 lb quarter share would have a final weight around 108-117 lbs. Weight is lost from hanging weight to final weight in two ways. Around 4% is water weight lost during the 10-14 day curing/hanging period. Another 30-35% is lost during the cutting process due to the amount of fat in the meat and the desired cuts requested by the customer. Animals with higher fat content and the more boneless cuts, requested by the customer, account for more loss in the butchering process and a lower final weight. (Note, lower weight doesn’t mean that you are receiving less meat, but, rather, you are receiving fewer bones).
What is a “Whole Share” and “Half Share”?
A “Whole Share” is exactly as it sounds. It is the entire animal (besides the organs) after the butcher has harvested, cut, and wrapped the meat. The take-home weight of a whole share would be about 360-430 pounds. If you would prefer, you can request that the butcher package the heart, liver and tongue for you to take home.
A “Half Share” of beef is half the animal cut down the middle leaving the left and right sides. The take-home weight of a half share would be about 180-215 pounds.
* Instead of selling a quarter share, we encourage families to partner up to split a half share, so they can divide the cuts evenly among partners.
How much beef should I get?
In 2020, the average American consumed 83 lbs. of beef per capita. This means a family of 4, eating the average amount of beef, can expect to consume nearly 332 lbs of beef in a year, which adds up to almost ¾ of a share. (Each family will be different. Please see below for what our family's beef consumption looks like.)
Brian's family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) consumes a ¼ share a year. Jason’s family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) consumes a ½ share each year. Lastly, John’s family of 6, (3 adults and 3 kids) consumes a ¼ share each year. Since Brian and John’s family each consume a ¼ share, they partner up to split a ½ share.
* Please keep in mind, family eating habits and menus are different.
What does all this mean in terms of actual per pound costs?
You can expect to purchase your beef from Sterling Oaks Farm at $4.00 per pound hanging weight. As of 2021, the butcher charges included a $100 harvest fee (per animal), $3 brand fee, and $0.80 per pound cut and wrap fee (hanging weight). We will update these, if necessary, as soon as we know. This adds up to about $4.95 per pound hanging weight.
Our 2021 beef prices, including butcher fees, were $3559 (whole share) and $1779.50 (half share). Based on these prices, you will be paying about $8.24 per pound take-home weight. This is not only cheaper than retail ground beef ($8.50-$9.95/lb), it is also significantly cheaper than what you would pay for premium steaks ($20-$40/lb). Visit the Beef National Retail Reports for further details.
Understanding the calculations...
Say you purchase a half share of beef from Sterling Oaks Farm and the hanging weight of the whole animal is 720 lbs. Half of that animal’s hanging weight would be 360 lbs. You would be purchasing your half share from Sterling Oaks Farm for $4.00 x 360 = $1440.00.
Then, at the butcher, you pay half the harvest and brand fees (½ of $100 and ½ of $3), and 0.80/lb hanging weight for cutting and wrapping, which = $50 + $1.5 + ($0.8 x 360 lbs) = $339.50.
So, in this example, you can expect to pay $1440.00 + $339.50 = $1779.50 for a half share of beef (360 lb hanging weight and 432 lbs take-home weight).
How much freezer space will my beef take up?
For a quarter share of beef, you will want about 5-7 cubic feet of space. For a half share of beef, you will want about 8-10 cubic feet of space. Lastly, for a whole share of beef, you will want about 16-20 cubic feet of beef.
When do I pay for my share of beef?
Sterling Oaks Farm is currently accepting orders for 2022 beef. If you are interested in ordering a 2022 share, please complete this form. We will collect a deposit upon confirming your 2022 beef order. The remaining balance will be due prior to pickup once the final hanging weight has been determined. Your beef is planned to be ready for pickup from the butcher about 14 days after harvest. Keep in mind that you will pay the butcher directly for the harvest, brand, and cutting and wrapping fees for your share at pickup. Sterling Oaks Farm accepts checks and PayPal. Please note that using PayPal will require an additional processing fee.
When will I receive my share of beef?
We will harvest our 2022 beef in November/December. We will add official dates once we have finalized our orders. Your beef will be ready for pickup from the butcher about two weeks after harvest. At pick-up, you will be expected to pay the butcher for the harvest, brand, and cut and wrap fees for your share of beef.
What are the cuts?
Once Sterling Oaks Farm delivers your live animal to the butcher, you will work with the butcher to decide how you want your share cut and wrapped. Here is the Cut and Wrap Sheet used by our butcher. Most processors have a standard order that includes all of the whole share cuts (roasts, steaks, short ribs, brisket, etc.). However, if there is a certain cut you don’t want, you can opt to have that made into ground beef instead. Some processors will also let you specify the amount of meat you’d like in an individual package (2-3 lbs for roasts, 1 lb for ground beef, etc.), the thickness of your steaks (we prefer ¾ inch), and if you’d like burger patties or cube steaks made. Some processors might offer special cuts (like the pre-made patties) for an extra charge.
Beef Cut Sheet Description
CHUCK – The Chuck or front shoulder is typically ground into hamburger. If you like pot roasts for slow cooking, a chuck roast can be very flavorful. You can request a chuck roast or two and have the rest ground into burger. As with all cuts, the roasts will be larger on larger animals, but you should always specify the ideal size for your roasts and steaks. On one side of the animal, the Chuck will account for about 50 pounds.
RIB – The Rib area yields an excellent quality meat with good marbling. You can have the Rib cut into Rib Steaks, Standing Rib Roasts, or some of each. All rib cuts will have the bone in. On one side of the animal, the Rib will account for about 20 pounds.
LOIN –The Loin consists of the Short Loin and Tenderloin. These are generally thought of as the best cuts on the beef. From the Loin, you can get T-bone steak, Porterhouse, NY strips, and Filet Mignon. If you want the Tenderloin cut into Filet Mignon, it will automatically provide you with NY strip steaks. It is not possible to request Filet Mignon along with T-bones and Porterhouse. The T-bone and Porterhouse have a piece of tenderloin on one side of the bone (like a Filet Mignon) and the NY strip on the other. On one side of the animal, the Loin will account for about 15 pounds.
SIRLOIN – The Sirloin is a very flavorful part of the beef. The Top Sirloin is usually the most tender. Some people like to have some or all of the Sirloin ground into hamburger because it adds great flavor to the hamburger. If you would like it cut into steaks, be sure to specify the thickness of steak you prefer. If you forget they will be cut approximately 1 inch thick. Don’t forget to let the butcher know how many steaks you would like in one package. On one side of the animal, Sirloin accounts for about 20 pounds.
ROUND – The Round offers many options. The Eye of the Round roast is typically left as one large, whole roast. It is lean and flavorful. The Top Round can be cut into roasts or London Broil. The Bottom Round can be cut into roast for slow cooking pot roasts or ground into hamburger. Families who use a lot of hamburger will often have all of the round ground and save the Eye of the Round roast for a special occasion. On one side of the animal, Round accounts for 50 or more pounds.
The Brisket is typically left whole for marinating, slow cooking or smoking.
You can request Flank steaks, or it will otherwise be ground into hamburger.
If you like Stew, be sure to specify how many pounds of Stew Meat in a package and how many total packages. Lean pieces will be used from what would otherwise be ground into hamburger.
If you are a fan of organ meat, you can have the Tongue packaged. The Liver can also be sliced and packaged and the Heart can be left whole or sliced.
If there are roasts you would like as bone-in or boneless, be sure to specify.