The feedlots put the animals on a high-energy ration to allow rapid weight gain and marbling of the meat (fat deposition in the muscle tissue for flavour).
At the packing plant, the animals are killed, hung in a cooler for a period of one to two weeks to tenderize the meat, then butchers divide the carcass into the various cuts.
The yield of meat from an animal is determined by many factors including — among others — its size, sex and breed. There are two main terms to understand: the dressed weight and the take home weight.
Dressed weight is the weight of an animal immediately after slaughter (only meat & bone; no organs, blood, head or hide). It is usually 55-65% of the animal’s live weight; smaller animals will yield less than larger animals and females less than males. (Dressed weight may also be called rail weight, hot hanging weight or wet weight)
The take home weight of meat will be about 55-60% of the Dressed Weight. The other 40% is due to 8% carcass shrink during the dry aging process and 35% waste during butchering (bones, gristle and fat).
For more information, check out Alberta Agriculture’s Economics and Marketing:Understanding Dressing Percentage of Slaughter Cattle
There are a wide variety of cuts that are possible from a carcass. The further from the ends of the animal, the more tender the cut and the best steaks come from the rib and loin areas in the centre. But don’t discount the other cuts! Many of the tougher cuts are the most flavourful and are easy to cook such as chuck roasts and cross rib roasts. Both are excellent pot roasts, they are easy to cook and are delicious.
If you like diversity in your cooking I would suggest trying all cuts at some point. Shortribs are great for summer BBQs, a hearty scottish stew for cold winter days, round roasts or steaks I like to slice up to use for kebabs or stir fry. Rather than fret about what to do with the cuts, let it help you decide what to cook for supper. Your favourite beef cut may be one you have never tried!
When buying directly from a rancher, an animal is usually sold in either quarters, halves or whole animals. Because an animal is symmetrical from side to side, if you order a half you will be guaranteed to get the full variety of cuts (50% of all the roasts, ribs, steaks and hamburger). If you order a quarter, the butcher evens out the cuts between the two people sharing one side (half) of a beef, but the cuts may look slightly different than if you ordered a full half.
Alberta has many provincially inspected plants to choose from, though we have chosen to use the Meat Chop out of Penhold. We usually take our animals in for butchering the end of October so the butcher needs to know the cutting instructions before then.
For cutting instructions you have three options.
- Submit your own custom instructions. The Meat Chop has an online form that will allow you to choose between certain cuts, specify sizes for roasts, # of steaks in a package and request various sausages be made from your hamburger (sausages have an added cost).
If you feel uncomfortable submitting your own instructions, we can do it for you and if there are specific things you would like, we will try and accommodate you. You can choose from either:
- Balanced Package- A variety of steaks and roasts, some short ribs and stew meat, the remainder hamburger.
- Hamburger and Steak Heavy- Fewer roasts, more steak, more burger.
The fee for slaughtering the animal is split equally among the quarters and customers pay for the butchering of their meat. Typically, it will cost $120-140/quarter for slaughter/butchering fees without any sausage or other value added services.
Fall 2019 price is $4.25/lb on the dressed weight of the animal, plus butchering fees. We have a limited fall offering, of grass-finished beef. If you’re interested in beef finished on a mixed ration including grain, please let us know.
Beef is available in ¼, ½ or full carcass portions on a first come, first serve basis. Please inquire through our ‘Contact Us‘ form.
If we aren’t able to fulfill your order, but you’re interested in purchasing beef from us in the future, we would be happy to book you in early.
Want to order some beef? Just fill out the contact us form indicating the amount you’d like along with any special instructions or questions. We will send you an email to confirm. Closer to the date we will follow up with instructions about submitting your cutting instructions.
Due to lack of a freezer space, we cannot pick up and store your meat for you on the farm. We will arrange delivery in mid-December to central locations in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton.
Payment will be due before delivery (via e-transfer, cash or cheque), or the day of delivery (via cash or e-transfer).
Again, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.