Hi all! We’ve decided to update and re-share one of the most useful blog posts we did in 2020. We were surprised to learn that a lot of people were very interested in buying a side of beef but didn’t know where to begin their research or how to start the process. So here, we outline the most common questions we get asked.
Here’s the ‘skinny’ on buying a side of beef:
First of all, it will simplify your life once it’s done. Imagine this: It’s Monday morning and you’re starting to think about dinners for the week. You walk to your freezer, scan the contents, and easily decide on Taco Tuesday, Burger Thursday and plan to smoke a brisket on Saturday. You grab a package of carne asada, a pound or two of ground beef, and a 4-5 lb brisket and place them in the fridge. It’s almost too easy! Buying a side of beef (or even a whole cow) is a great way to make life easier – it saves you those multiple weekly trips to the store and gives you the peace of mind that your yearly supply of protein is already in your freezer! But getting your beef this way is a little different than grabbing it from the supermarket.
Here are 5 things everyone should know about buying a side of beef.
WHO and HOW do I pay? A lot of ranches sell you the live cow and the customer needs to find the butcher, make the appointment, and transport the steer. That puts a lot of legwork on you! Since we have existing relationships with local processors, we schedule the date and transport your steer to the facility for harvest on your behalf. When you buy with us, your $500 deposit reserves your side AND your harvest date. When the final weight is taken at harvest time, we will bill you for the side (or whole cow) – that balance, minus your deposit, is due to Perry Land & Cattle. Then the butcher dry ages your beef and calls you when it’s ready to cut to learn what type of cuts you would like. After your side is aged and cut (~2-3 weeks), the butcher will send you a bill for their services (usually around $350 for a side, depending on the weight). Once you’ve settled up with both the rancher and the butcher, you can pick up your finished, boxed beef directly from the processing facility.
How is the PRICE figured? There are three weights you should be familiar with. The live weight (before any processing is done; usually around 1300-1500 lbs for our steers), the hanging weight (after the steer has been ‘field dressed’; usually 750-950 lbs), and the finished weight of the processed beef you get back (which depends on how you have it cut and whether you keep bones, organs, and other parts of your cow; usually around 400 lbs or so). Your price is based on the hanging weight of that specific steer. Keep in mind, these numbers are on a whole steer; cut them in half for a side of beef.
How LONG does it take? The entire process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the harvest schedule. It’s best to not be in a hurry when choosing to order a side, since in most cases, the steer you are getting hasn’t even been selected for harvest yet. (We choose the best available steer for each of our customers, only after it is reserved.) So remember to wear your ‘patience pants’ and rest assured that once you get your beef…you’ll likely be set for the next year!
We have had many ‘first time side buyers’ come our way and we are here and more than happy to help answer your questions and guide you through the process. It’s a new experience for some, but it’s one that most people return for each year once they understand how it works, and how wonderful it is to have your beef needs all under your roof for whenever you and your family need it! The convenience alone is worth giving it a try. For more information, please visit our ‘Sides of Beef’ page and if you still have questions… please don’t hesitate to call at 602-828-5004.
And don’t forget… if you decide you’d like to stock up but don’t quite want a side or a whole, we offer a preset ‘Quarter Box’ to give you a taste.
As always…Happy beefing!
Alicia Perry, PhD, Owner/Operator and all around Hay Maven (see my blog post on the time I fell off a haystack...). I share industry insights, tips & tricks on grilling great beef, and my personal journey into the ranching world.