Many time people are amazed at the quantity of meat that they receive after bring in an animal to be processed. The steer, hog, or other animal was huge in the eyes of the owner. The following information represents an average. The actual live weight to retail cuts yield varies and is dependent on various factors such as breed, fat to muscle ration, cutting order, age, etc.
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 harvesting and processing of meat from live animals to table-ready cuts should be expected.
After the harvest, 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%
Harvesting 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 harvested loss in hogs averages about one-quarter of live weight.
Example: If your steer weighs 1100 lbs. live, it will most likely weigh 638-715 lbs. when harvested or “dressed”. This is 58%-65% of the live weight.
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 48%-60%
Processing 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.