Deciding to purchase a 1/4 or 1/2 a beef for your family is a economical way to fill your freezer and support a local farmer, but the pricing can be very confusing for a first time consumer. Here are some details to help you understand exactly how you are being charged, and what exactly you are paying for. Depending, on the farmer you purchase your beef from, you will be charged a price per pound based on the weight of the animal or meat from one of the stages of processing.
-Hanging weight(on the rail)
This refers to the weight of the beef as it hangs in the buthchers cooler once the head, hide, organs, feet and blood are removed. Butchers base their processing fees on the hanging weight of the beef, many farmers will charge costumers based on the hanging weight, price quotes would say something like: $4.50/per pound – $6.50/per pound, plus cut and wrap which refers to the butcher fees. In Alberta the average price for butchering is $1.10 cents per pound, plus a kill fee. Here is where it can get confusing, your hanging weight and your cut and wrap or lean meat yield vary quite a great deal, so just because you have paid for a 250 pound half, this will not be the amount you take home. There are many factors that influence your cut and wrap yield. Dry aging; once the beef is weighed it is moved into a cooler to hang for 14-21 days, this incurs approximately a 8% loss in weight. The amount of waste on a beef is approximately 34% of bone, fat and gristle. So to calculate how much beef you would actually take home to your freezer, you can add the shrink of 8% and the waste of 35% and multiply by the hanging weight of the half. So for a 250 pound half you would actually take home 145 pounds of meat. This number is based on all the meat being boneless, so it can change a bit if you pick boney cuts of meat, such as, T-bone steaks and prime rib roasts. At this point if you have paid for the beef based on the hanging weight you will be asked to drive to the butcher and pick up your meat and pay the cut and wrap and any kill charges.
At Sage Creek Permaculture we have decided to charge a flat fee, to take any confusion out of the equation. Your price per pound for a half, quarter or whole beef, will be $9.00/per pound, for the cut and wrapped weight or lean meat yield, meaning the amount of meat you take home to your freezer. This is essentially how the grocery store charges you. This price will also include the basic butcher fees (three week hang and speciality items are extras, and will be charged to the costumer), and delivery within and around airdrie area if required. Once a deposit is made on the beef you will get a cutting sheet to fill out for the butcher, instructing him on the cuts of meat you would like along with packaging instructions and any extras such as beef jerky, frying sausage etc.