Cows and Cattle
Beef and Veal

How much meat is there on an average cow?


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2011-12-24 18:54:21
2011-12-24 18:54:21

That really depends on the breed. A Belgian Blue steer will have a heavier carcass weight (and thus a higher dressing yield) than an Angus steer if finished at the exact same weight. Cutability will also be more on a Belgian Blue than an Angus.

The rule of thumb to remember for most beef cattle slaughtered for meat is that the warm carcass weight or dressing yield (head, feet, viscera and hide removed before being cured in the cool room) is typically 50 to 58% of the liveweight of that animal. Dairy cattle like Jerseys and Holsteins will have a lower yield than beef cattle breeds like Angus. Old canner cows also typically have a lower dressing yield than finisher cattle do. Belgian Blues, on the other hand, by comparison to the conventional dressing yield, can have a carcass weight as high as 67%. Piedmontese are also known to have higher-than-"normal" dressing yields.

The edible portion of that carcass (which is cutability) is typically 49% of the carcass weight. Belgian Blues can have at least 8% more cutability than other breeds can possess, including Angus.

So to give an example, lets compare three breeds across the board as far as dressing yield and cutability is concerned. I am going to use Jerseys, Angus and Belgian Blues for this example. Let's say all three are steers and are finished at 1000 lbs, and we calculate their dressing weight:

For a Jersey steer, the dressing yield would likely be 50% of its liveweight. That gives us 1000 x 0.50 = 500 lb carcass weight.

For an Angus steer, the dressing yield would likely be around 58% of the liveweight. This gives us 1000 x 0.58 = 580 lb carcass weight.

For a Belgian Blue steer, the dressing yield would likely be around 66% of the liveweight. This gives us 1000 x 0.66 = 660 lb carcass weight.

Now for the cutability yield:

The Jersey steer would have a cutability yield of around 50% of the dressing yield, since it wouldn't have as much meat as an Angus or Belgian Blue would have. This gives us 500 x 0.50 = 250 lb of meat

The Angus steer would have a cutability yield of around 48% of the dressing yield because of the higher fat content that is on the carcass. This gives us 580 x 0.48 = 278.4 lb of meat.

The Belgian Blue steer would have a cutability yield of around 57% of the dressing yield since it has the double-muscling advantage and a much leaner carcass than either the Angus or Jersey steer. This gives us 660 lb x 0.57 = 376.2 lb of meat.

Now lets just go average, just to make things easier, from the numbers expressed above.

A 1000 lb cow has a dressing yield of 0.58%, which gives a warm carcass weight of 580 lbs. The cutability of that carcass is 49% of the carcass weight, which gives us 284.2 lbs of edible meat.

We could conclude that the dressing and cutability percentages depend on the breed, but typically give us an average of 270 lbs of meat. (This average would increase significantly if we included the cutability yield from Belgian Blue as much as 30 pounds!) However it doesn't end there. How much meat a "cow" gives also depends on the finished weight of that "cow." For example, a 1400 lb cow will give more meat than a 1000 lb cow.

Because of that, the best way to determine how much meat a cattlebeast will truly give not only depends on the breed, but also the finished weight of that animal.


Related Questions

It depends on how much this "average" cow weighs and whether you're referring to the amount of ready-to-eat meat on a cow or the hot-carcass weight of that "average" cow. It also depends on whether you're referring to a "cow" or a cow, its type and breed.

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