You can get 220 Lbs of steak from the average cow which adds up to anywhere from 120 to 180 cuts of steak. This assumes the cow’s live weight is about 1200 – 1400 Lbs.
Here’s a rough breakdown of the lower end of what you might expect from one cow:
|Beef||Yield from a Whole Cow|
|Ground Beef||200 Lbs|
|Total||Aproximately 120 to 180|
However, it is hard to reach an exact figure for this calculation because all cows are different. Some factors that will influence how many steaks you can get from a cow include:
- The size of the cow
- The breed of the cow
- The size of each cut of steak
- Processing methods
There’s also more beef you can get from the cow than that. In fact, you can expect another 220 Lbs of the cow to become ground beef that ends up in everything from meatballs to hamburgers.
How to Find out How many Steaks you can get from a Cow
To estimate out how many steaks one cow will provide, I researched how much beef you can get from a cow, how much of the beef you can expect to become steak, and divided that by how much the average steak weighs.
1. Figure out the Beef from a Cow
Even though a cow’s live weight is usually between 1200 and 1400 Lbs, once it has been slaughtered, its weight decreases significantly. Of course, you need to remove the bones, guts, hide, horns and blood which all decrease the net weight.
We calculate how much beef that the cow will end up with in two stages:
- Hot Carcass Weight (also known as the Dressing Percentage) is the weight of the carcass after the first stage of processing when the blood, guts and bones are removed. It usually comes to 60% – 64% of the live animal weight.
- Processed Weight is the weight of the beef once it hits the freezer. There is significant loss of water in the beef during this stage, and unsuitable cuts are removed.
At the end of this process, you can usually assume that the amount of usable beef from the animal comes to about 40% of the live animal weight.
2. Figure out how much Beef on a Cow becomes Steak
If you were to simply calculate 40% of the animal’s live weight, you will get to about 480 Lbs of usable beef per animal.
However, not all of this beef will be used for steak. A lot of the trimmings end up going to ground beef for burgers (you can guess that you’ll get about 800 quarter pound burgers from a cow).
Clover Meadows Beef estimates that close to 50% of the usable beef ends up as steak cuts. That adds up to about 220 Lbs (give or take) per cow.
If we were to assume you got 220 Lbs of cuts from a cow – which is also Clover Meadows Beef’s estimate – you could then find out how many Lbs of steak cuts, but this doesn’t account for types of cuts and further cutting losses.
Fortunately, Clover Meadows Beef also gives us a breakdown of this.
List of Steak you can expect when you buy a Cow
They provide the figures of how many of each cut of beef you will get when you buy a quarter cow. I’ll extrapolate that out to a full cow, assuming that when they slaughter a cow they divide up each cut four ways for their buyers.
|Beef||Yield from a Quarter Cow||Yield from a Whole Cow|
|Ground Beef||50 Lbs||200 Lbs|
|Total||Aproximately 30||Aproximately 120 to 180|
*Notes: Figures extrapolated from Clover Meadows Beef who sell slaughtered and processed beef direct to consumers. Figures may vary depending on the cow and seller. Check out what they have to offer here.
Which Breed of Cow makes the Best Steak?
This is entirely subjective and all depends on the consumer. Furthermore, it often depends as much on how the cattle are raised, fed and processed as the breed itself. For example, grass-fed beef can fetch a premium at market.
Some of the most popular breeds include:
Angus – Angus beef is the most popular breed of beef in the United States. Angus cattle put on muscle relatively easily and deliver tender cuts that the US market loves.
Wagyu – Wagyu beef comes from Japan but is now bred around the world. Wagyu beef is known for its tenderness and flavor, and often comes at a premium due to its great taste and quality.
Hereford – Hereford cattle come from Herefordshire in the UK but have spread around the world. They are known as a hardy breed that commands high prices at market, making them a top pick for many farmers.
Piedmontese – Originating from Piedmont in Italy, these cattle are known for being a healthy option for consumers. They are lean but also high in protein. They’re often cross-bred with the Angus breed.
While it all depends on the cow, its weight, its breed, and how the beef is processed, I estimate that the average cow will deliver somewhere in the order of 120 to 180 cuts of steak. Furthermore, you will be able to get somewhere in the order of 200 Lbs or more of ground beef from any one cow, which will also be usable for a range of reasons, such as meatballs and hamburgers.