How Many Steaks in a cow??? Chops in Pig??

For this month’s csa newsletter I will be talking about meat cuts.   As a sustainable farm we do NOT send animals to the butcher every week.  We only grow so many and if we become a  larger farm and have too many animals we would be losing sight of our goals.; which are to raise animals in a safe, humane manner without the use of growth hormones and antibiotics.  We want to keep the farm small enough so we can run it ourselves through our retirement years and not have to hire a number of employees. We need to use/sell the WHOLE animal to stay sustainable.  Review the chart below to get an idea of what few high end cuts are in a cow.  This explains why these cuts are more expensive.  We may not have certain cuts in stock from time to time, since we need to sell the bulk of the meat before we butcher more animals.  We send 2 to 4 animals at a time depending on if they are full grown or not. Per cow: 18-20 NY Strips OR          6-8 T-bones    10-12 Fillet Mignon OR         8- 10 Porterhouse

20 Delmonico’s OR  4 Small Prime Ribs

15 Sirloin Steaks  

 3 Briskets  

3-4 packs Skirt Steak  

 2 Flank steak  

 8-10lbs Short Ribs  

Pork is the same way (per animal): 2 Whole tenderloins ,  2 Baby back rib racks ,  2 St. Louis Rib Racks OR   2 Spare Ribs ,20 Pork Chops,   15-20lbs Bacon  

Now, to talk about the “other” not so high end cuts in a cow.  There are the chuck, round and the ground beef.  Chuck (front end of animal) can be used for roasts, stew meat/kabobs or ground.  The rounds (top end of the back end of animal) are used for roasts, London broil and minute steaks.  That leaves almost 200lbs of ground beef per cow!  With this, other than burger, we make beef chorizo, Italian sausage, hot dogs and NEW this month German summer sausage.

For the pork there is the shoulder, hams (back end) and ground meat.  Shoulder can be made into Irish bacon, roasts known as pork butt or pork shoulder or ground up.  The hams are made into hams or ground up.  Depending on the season or the stock on hand we have 30 to 80lbs per pig to make into Italian sausage, chorizo, andouille, breakfast sausage or ground pork.   Near Christmas and Easter we have the “hams” ground for sausage, closer to the holidays we save them for hams.

As long as I am talking about the beef and pork I might as well touch on the chicken.  As most of you know, we raise Freedom Ranger chickens for meat.  Not the HIGHLY genetically modified Cornish cross.  Freedom Rangers take 12 weeks to reach maturity, not 5weeks like the Cornish Cross.   They can only be raised outside in New York State from May to (if we are lucky) October; they need warm weather. We want them to have fresh air and grass, not confined in a barn, so this is our time frame for raising them. We raise as many as we can, but we only have so much land and time so there is a limit. We have to transport them to a processor which  puts limits on the amount we can do as well.   New York State Ag and Markets makes it very hard to do on farm processing so we use a licensed local Amish processor. Birds have to be sold whole, due to Ag and Markets regulations.   For 2012 we are raising 1500 freedom Rangers.  We are having some MAJOR predator issues this season!!!  We have lost over 200 birds due to mink, raccoon and fox.   We have a friend trapping, we can only hope we get this under control!!!

Review our cooking tips page for rules of thumb for cooking grass-fed meats.    Cooking Tips Link:


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