Customers who buy a live animal from a local cattle rancher for custom processing are often surprised by the amount of beef they receive, the amount of freezer space needed and that they did not get back the entire live weight of the animal in retail cuts.  This article will discuss how to estimate how much meat you will receive when purchasing an animal to harvest.

Dressing Percentage

One of the terms used in the cattle and meat cutting industry that often leads to misunderstanding is dressing percentage. The dressing percentage is the portion of the live animal weight that results in the hot carcass. The dressing percentage is calculated as: (hanging weight ÷ the live animal weight) × 100 The hanging weight (HW) is the weight of the unchilled carcass in pounds after the head, hide and internal organs have been removed. For most fed cattle, the HW will be approximately 60 percent of the live animal slaughter weight. However, the HW can vary greatly from one animal to another.

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All beef animals are not the same. Therefore, the dressing percentage will change from one animal type to another. Some of the primary factors influencing the dressing percentage include the type of animal in terms of breed, live weight, and how it was finished.

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