Montana Loves Beef

I source beef from Central Montana producers who share my high standards for quality.  I’ll help you fill your freezer with a whole, half or quarter beef raised by one of my family members.  Buying in bulk means you pay one price per pound, whether it is burger or prime rib.  You also have control over the thickness of your steaks, weight of the roasts, and if you want your burger packaged in chubs or patties. 

All the beef is pasture raised and grain finished.  After a 60-90 grain finish, the beef is processed at a processor of your choice.  It is dry-aged for 14 days prior to processing.  Dry-aging our beef allows the natural enzymes to tenderize the meat while dehydration concentrates the meat’s rich, natural flavor – giving flavor-packed, tender steaks and roasts.

Freezer Space

When deciding to purchase an animal for harvest, keep in mind the space you have available for safe and effective storage.

  • A quarter of beef takes an approximately 4.5 cu. ft. of chest freezer or a 5.5 cu. ft. upright freezer.
  • A half beef requires around 8 cu. ft. of space.
  • A whole beef will need 16 cu. ft.

How Much Meat

Dressing Percentage is an important term to remember as it represents the portion of the live animal weight, which transfers to the hot carcass weight.  The hot carcass weight (HCW) is the weight of the un-chilled carcass in pounds after the head, hide and internal organs have been removed.  For most fed cattle, the HCW will be approximately 60 to 64 percent of live animal harvest weight. 

Dressing percentage is calculated as: (hot carcass weight ÷ the live weight) x 100. For example, a 1400 pound animal with a hot carcass weight of 880 pounds has a dressing percentage of approximately 63%, which is calculated as follows:

(880 hot carcass weight ÷ 1400-pound live weight) x 100 = 63%.

It is not uncommon for the buyer of a live animal to question, “The dressing percentage of my 1400-pound steer was 63% but I only got 550 pounds of meat – where is the rest of my meat?”  The calculation of dressing percentage is based on hot carcass weight.  The hot carcass weight includes bones, excess fat and moisture loss that will not be packed and wrapped for home consumption. The hot carcass weight is not the actual amount of meat that the consumer will put in his or her freezer.

Many factors can affect the dressing percentage.  Anything that adds weight to the live animal but does not appear on the carcass will lower the dressing percentage.  Factors that might add to the live animal weight but not be included in the hot carcass weight include: Hide, Horns, Mud and/or manure on the hide, Gut fill.

All animals are not created equal.  Therefore, the dressing percentage is not consistent from one animal to another. A beef carcass is composed of 70 to 75% water.  As it is chilled, water evaporation will cause the carcass weight to decrease.  It is not uncommon for a chilled carcass to weigh 2 to 5% less than the hot carcass.  That means the example 880-pound carcass could lose nearly 40 pounds during chilling solely due to water loss by evaporation!

After a carcass is cooled, it will be further processed into the cuts you bring home.  The carcass is split in half, and further separated into “primal” cuts.  This process is referred to as “breaking down the carcass or fabrication.” 

In summary, the amount of meat that is cut and wrapped for consumption will be much less than the live weight of the animal.  A 1400-pound beef animal will yield a hot carcass weight of approximately 880 pounds.  Once cooled, the carcass weight will be approximately 840 pounds. When deboned and trimmed, there will be approximately 570 pounds of product to fill your freezer.

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