Below is an explanation of how we arrive at the three different weights in the cattle processing procedure.
When it comes to beef weights, there are three different ones of which customers should be aware. The first is “live” weight. This is what the animal weighed on the hoof, or when it was alive.
The next weight is “hanging” weight. This is the weight that the butcher gives us after the animal has been taken back to the butcher shop to hang. The weight difference from live to hanging is from loss of blood, head, hide, hooves, viscera, lungs and heart. The hanging weight is usually about 40% of the live weight. So, for example, a 1200 lb animal would have a hanging weight of 720 lbs (estimated). This is the weight we base our per lb charges on. The butcher also charges cut/wrap fees based on this weight, plus extra if a customer has requested additional bones or organ meats.
The last weight is the “final” or “take-home” weight. This is the weight of the meat that each customer will bring home. This weight is usually about 60-65% of the hanging weight. The weight is lost in two ways. About 4% is water weight lost during the 10-14 day period that the carcass is hung (or “cured”). Then about another 30-35% is lost during the cutting process. This amount is variable based on two factors – one is the amount of fat in the meat, and the other is the cuts that a customer requests. Higher fat means more loss. Also , the more boneless cuts requested by the customer, the lower the final weight. (Note that the lower weight doesn’t mean that you are receiving less meat – rather, you are receiving fewer bones).