When I buy meat in bulk or have an animal slaughtered...
How Much Eating Meat Will I Get?

Frankly, there's no exact answer to this question.  Here are some of the reasons:

  • Each animal is built differently.  One may have more muscle, fat or bone than the next.

  • Meat can be close-trimmed or left with some fat on.  Cutting preferences can determine quantity.

  • Meat can be boneless or bone-in.  This will make a difference in the weight and amount of meat you put in your freezer.

Weight loss during slaughter and processing of meat from live animals to table-ready cuts should be expected.

Slaughtering
 

After slaughter, the carcass will weigh considerably less than before.  The percentage remaining can be estimated:
Beef  58% - 65%
Veal  58% - 64%
Pork  73% - 75%
Lamb 48% - 52%

removes the head, blood, hide and inedible parts from the animal.  In beef, veal, and lamb, it will account for an average loss of slightly less than half the original live weight of the animal.  The slaughter loss in hogs averages about one-quarter of live weight.

Example:  If your steer weighs 1,100 lbs. live, it will most likely weigh 638 - 715 lbs. when slaughtered or "dressed".  This is 58% - 65% of the live weight.
 

Processing
 

After processing, your table-ready meat will weigh less than the carcass did before processing.  The percentages of closely-trimmed, mostly boneless cuts remaining from dressed weight can be estimated:
Beef  50% - 65%
Veal  65% - 75%
Pork  60% - 75%
Lamb 45% - 60%

is the cutting of the "dressed" or carcass meat into ready-to-cook portions.  Processing accounts for another loss in weight as excess fat and bones are trimmed away.  Not only does trimming make meat more appetizing, it also reduces required freezer space and often eliminates further preparation in the kitchen.  The more fat and bones removed for convenience, the greater the decrease in pounds.  The fatter the carcass, the lower the final weight of the table-ready cuts will be.

Example:  If your pork carcass weighs 185 lbs., expect approximately 111 - 139 lbs. of closely trimmed, mostly boneless eating meat after processing.  This is 60% - 75% of the dressed weight.

Bulk Meat Carcass Percentages and Cuts
(Percentages shown are based on dressed (slaughtered) weight.)

To estimate how many pounds of each section you'll get, multiply the stated percentage times the total dressed weight.  Example:  Beef round at 23% x 650 lbs. dressed weight = approximately 149 lbs. of beef round before it is boned and trimmed to your preference.
 
Beef | Pork | Veal | Lamb (Click on the image for a larger view.)
 
Remember:  A carcass isn't all eating meat.
Reprinted with permission from the American Association of Meat Processors.
 

Sample Beef & Hog Processing Sheets

(Click on the sample to see the full size .pdf version)

IMAGE: Hog Processing SheetIMAGE: Beef Processing Sheet

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