How many steaks from a cow?
Ay caramba – how long is a piece of string? When will Medupi be completed? How tall is a Prasa train? These are the things that keep me up at night. It all really depends on what types of steaks and what other kinds of cuts you may want. The actual live weight to retail cuts yield varies, and is dependent on various factors such as breed, fat to muscle ratio, cutting order, and age.
On average a beef steer weighs about 525kg, but obviously not the entire cow makes it to the table. It will only weigh approximately 60% of its live weight once it makes it to the rail. The 40% loss during the slaughter and dressing procedure is a result of the animal being bled - and the hide, head, hooves and organs being removed. The remaining 60% is often referred to as the “Hanging Weight” or the weight “On the Rail”.
But that’s not the end of it, as weight loss doesn’t stop there. Once on the rail, it will lose moisture - accounting for additional weight loss. Then fat and bone is removed during the cutting, accounting for another 20% loss. So, a 525kg steer (on the hoof) will average around 250kg of retail beef (steaks, roasts, ground beef, stew beef, etc.).
Still – to get to what is considered the amount of quality primary cuts, we have to trim it down even more. Your choice of cut may depend on your budget – some people can only afford non-prime steaks, such as the round steak. Then, some steak snobs don’t include the porterhouse or T-bone steak, since they are combinations of the top loin and tenderloin.
So as a general rule of thumb half will be ground beef, a quarter goes to the various roasts, and another quarter is for your primary steaks. Here’s a breakdown of the math for you:
Which means we are left with +150 primary steak cuts, split as follows.