Bulk Beef Buyers Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Buying our Ontario Grass Fed Beef by the Half, Mixed Quarter, or Eighth
November 4, 2022
Buying single cuts of meat on an as needed basis can be convenient but here at Meeting Place Organic Farm we always encourage our customers, if possible, to buy our Ontario grass fed beef in the bulk size that best suits their household. We offer different sizes to suit large families whose diet includes a lot of meat and smaller bulk packages for individuals or families who eat less meat throughout the year. Buying in bulk provides the best value for your money while filling your freezer with delicious, healthy, meat from a local Ontario farm. Bulk meat in the freezer makes your weekly meal planning full of variety and so much easier.
Buying beef in bulk is new for many people. Something that was once common has fallen away as our food system has moved more toward convenience and away from farm-to-table. We have put together this guide to help you understand the process on our farm.
What bulk grassfed beef options are available at Meeting Place Organic Farm?
- Half Beef - often called a Side of Beef of Half Cow or Half Share, this is half of cow
- Mixed Quarter Beef - sometimes called a half-side, this is a quarter of a cow with cuts from both front and hind
- Eight Beef - this is a mixed 1/8th of a pack with cuts from front and hind
- 20lb Beef Variety Pack - small mixed pack of roasts, steaks, and ground beef
How much meat do you get with your order?
It is important to understand the butchering process when you buy in bulk. What can be confusing for first time bulk buyers are the terms Live Weight, Hanging Carcass Weight and Packaged Weight.
Live Weight: this is the actual weight of the animal prior to slaughter. Farmers use this weight to know when an animal is the optimal size for best quality meat.
Hanging Carcass Weight or HCW: this is the weight of the animal after slaughter when blood has been drained, intestines, stomach, hooves, head, and hide removed. This weight is approximately 60-64% of the live weight. It is industry standard for butchers to use the HCW for cutting and wrapping fees as it is the most consistent weight available before custom cutting begins. It is also why you will see that we price our beef by the Hanging Carcass Weight. We do not charge extra for custom cutting or packaging which is why we use HCW to base our prices by.
Packaged Weight: this is how much meat you will actually be taking home to put in your freezer. Packaged weight is approximately 72% of the HCW. For a Half Beef with an approximate Hanging Carcass Weight of 275lbs you would be receiving approximately 200lbs of packaged meat. The weight lost comes from water and bones. We dry-age our beef between 14 and 21 days, and the meat becomes more tender and flavourful. Water weight is lost during the drying time. During butchering weight is lost from custom cutting, trim and requests for boneless cuts. You can request soup bones and marrow bones if you like them. It is important to note that you are not receiving less actual meat when comparing Hanging Carcass Weight and Packaged weight.
What cuts are in a Half and Quarter Beef?
It can be hard to visualize how much meat 100 or 200 lbs of meat actually is. Here is a photo of a Mixed Quarter layed out.
A mixed quarter is ~100 lbs of meat. In this standard example 50lbs is divided between steak cuts and 10 - 4lb roasts, then the rest is soup bones, 10lbs of stewing beef and ~40lbs of ground beef. A Half Beef would be double this amount of meat and an Eighth would be half.
Roasts you can expect to receive in a standard cut include: Cross rib, Blade, Steak (Rump) Roast, Prime Rib, Sirloin Tip
Steak Cuts you can expect to receive in a standard cut include: T-bone, Sirloin, Tenderloin, Round
In the standard cut ground beef and beef stew are in 1lb packages. Bones can be requested in you like making soup or have animals who love them.
To note: you absolutely receive a lot of ground beef when ordering in bulk. A Half Beef yields ~80lbs of ground beef which we think is amazing. It is so versatile: burgers, meatballs, pasta dishes, Korean beef, stuffed peppers, American goulash. Lots of ground beef translates into easy delicious midweek meals.
Eighth Beef and 20lb Beef Variety Packs are great for smaller households or people who have limited freezer space. You get a little of everything to enjoy and still get more value than buying conventionally from the grocery store.
Here is a photo of an eighth beef.
This is what a 20lb Beef Variety Pack looks like.
Our standard cutting instructions are a great place to start when you are new to buying beef in bulk. You can also have your bulk beef custom cut and packaged for your specifications. Some people like more steaks, fewer roasts, some like the bones and some like even more ground beef than standard. We will work with you to make sure you get the cuts you enjoy most.
If you have 20 minutes to spare we highly recommend watching this video by Bon Appetit that is an in depth look at breaking down a half cow while explaining the cuts of the beef and how to use them. Butchers are a major part of buying beef in bulk. We have been working with Green's Meat Market in Lucknow, Ontario for many years and are confident in their ability to get the most out of the animals we send them.
How much freezer space do I need?
This is definitely something you need to consider before placing a bulk order.
Freezers are measured in cubic feet. A helpful way to visualize cubic feet is by picturing a plastic milk crate which is approximately 1 cubic foot. 1 cubic foot can hold ~25-35lbs of packaged meat, less for oddly shaped packages like bones. Most medium sized chest freezers are 10-16 cubic feet.
The photo below shows a Mixed Quarter Beef in crates as an example.
The photo below shows how much room a 20lb variety pack takes up in a standard cooler.
How do I order?
We send our animals to the butcher three times a year: May, September and November. This allows them the maximum time on nutrient-dense pasture and helps us make sure they are the optimal size and condition for butchering. You can create an account on our website and then head into our webstore where you will find pre-order options for May Bulk Beef, September Bulk Beef, and November Bulk Beef.
Choose which works best for you, add it to your cart and then check out. You will be required to pay a deposit at checkout. Please note that the price in your shopping cart is an approximation of how you much you will pay for your half beef, quarter beef, or eighth beef. It is an estimate of the HCW of the beef. Your invoice will be adjusted when your beef is actually cut and the real hanging weight is known.
When butchering time arrives we will be in contact with you to finalize cutting instructions and to let you know when it is ready to be picked up at our farm in Lucknow or to be shipped to your home in Ontario.
How long will a Half Beef last?
Honestly, this is a hard question to answer. It depends on how many people are in your household and how much beef your family enjoys per week. A rough estimate would be between 35-50 weeks. If you eat ~6lbs a week it will last 35 weeks, if you eat ~4lbs a week it will last 50 weeks.
Other ways to save by buying bulk grassfed beef from our farm
In addition to our smaller 20lb Beef Variety Pack you can also purchase 10lb boxes of our organic grassfed ground beef and 10lb boxes or our organic grassfed stew beef. These are also available May, September and November and throughout the year when excess is available. This is a great way to stock up on these versatile cuts.
If you are not ready to commit to bulk beef you can also try our Taste of the Farm Mixed Beef/Pork/Chicken pack which gives you a little bit to try from all of the livestock we pasture raise on the farm.
At Meeting Place Organic Farm we pride ourselves on growing healthy, sustainable grass fed beef for families in Ontario at a reasonable price. If after reading this you still have questions we would love to walk you through the process of buying in bulk. Give us a call or send us an email and we are happy to help.