what does beef cost? - A Jersey steer weighing about 1000 lbs is slaughtered. The head, lower legs and intestines are removed, the carcass is halved and/or quartered. At the butcher's facility, the carcass is weighed (this equals the hanging weight of, say, 500 lbs), and hung to dry age in a cooler about 14 days. During the hanging, the carcass gets a bit lighter due to loss of moisture. Then, the carcass is cut to the owners' specifications, wrapped, labelled, and frozen. Taking into account the spine, large bones, surface mold from aging and excess fat, the take home portion of beef is approximately 270 lbs. Beef breeds of cattle usually have a slightly larger take home fraction.

Suppose a customer buys a quarter of the steer at $4/lb hanging weight, with a kill fee of $85, and cut and wrap fees of $0.60/lb hanging weight. Let's also assume that the quarter is a so called "split half", wherein the cuts from a half are distributed fairly into two quarter shares rather than keeping track of front and back quarters. This is a common custom that gives equal shares and more variety of cuts for each customer that buys a quarter.

For his share of 67.5 lbs meat in the freezer, the customer would pay a quarter of the kill fee, plus the meat and cut and wrap charges for a quarter of the hanging weight. In numbers:

$85/4 + 500*($4+$0.60)/4 = $21.25 + $575 = $597.25

This is equivalent to an average of $8.85/lb for the meat in the freezer.

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