How Much Does a Side of Beef Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 15, 2018

A side of beef is one-half of the cow, and those who buy a side of beef often save money since it is cheaper to purchase the whole thing, kind of like buying wholesale, instead of buying portions of the cow.

meat! by o0karen0o, on Flickr
meat!” (CC BY 2.0) by o0karen0o

How much does a side of beef cost?

The price of a side of beef usually depends on how much meat is purchased, the butcher you purchase from, geographical location and quality of meat.  On average, a complete side of beef can vary anywhere from $3 to $4.50 per “hanging weight” pound, including the processing.  The hanging weight is considered the weight after the cow has been skinned and “hung.” Some butchers may include everything in this estimate, while some may charge an additional $0.50 to $1.25 per pound to process.

Aside from charging by the hanging weight, some butchers may also charge by the live weight or by the processed weight.

When everything is processed and ready for the freezer, the weight, according to most research we did, will be in the $5 to $9.50 per pound, and most orders will yield more than 125 to 200+ pounds of edible meat.

A member on Reddit.com, for instance, asked if $6 per pound for a side of beef was acceptable, and most agreed it’s the best thing to do when buying meat in bulk.

Wilson Beef Farms, for example, lists its prices on its website.  A split side of beef, according to them, will be sold by the hanging weight, approximately 150 pounds, and this is the weight before the cow is trimmed and cut.   The cost, $4.46 per pound, totals close to $669, with the average customer taking home 100 pounds worth of meat.

frugalupstate.com has an amazing guide showing us what she paid for her side of beef.  She explains what to look out for, how to find it and what you should do to properly store it.  According to her blog post, she paid $3 per pound for the hanging weight and another $0.60 per pound to process.

Monnett Farms, yet another farm that lists its prices on its website, says they charge $5.50 per pound, and a side of beef purchased from them could yield as much as 250 to 300 pounds.

Side of beef overview

The amount of meat that you can get off of a side of beef varies depending on the size of the cow. Usually, a side of beef can weigh anywhere around 100 to 350+ pounds.  The butcher will either charge by the hanging weight, as explained above, or they will charge by the meat it produces.  The weight, as well, can often be hard to estimate.  A side of beef can feed a family of four for close to a year.

The butcher will cut the beef for you and commonly offer what they will include once the side of beef has been processed, or they may ask you specifically what kind of cuts you want to be included.  Butchers will often want you to wait two to three+ weeks before picking up your order or sometimes more if they are in demand.  In most circumstances, the butcher will first want to know if you want any specific cuts, and once the order is confirmed, the cow will either be butchered on site or sent to a third-party, depending on the company policy.  The beef should then be dry-aged before being cut for up to 10 days to help tenderize the meat, but again, this time could vary depending on the butcher’s policy.  After this duration, the meat will be cut, packaged and will be frozen until you’re ready to pick it up, which is usually two to three weeks after you placed your order and put down a deposit.

Common cuts, once processed, can include a chuck roast, chuck steaks, arm roasts, stew beef, short ribs, neck bones for soup, rib steaks, rib roasts, steaks, top roasts, rolled rump roasts, sirloin tip roasts, cube steak and ground beef.

As longed as vacuum sealed properly, it can last 18 to 24 months.

To find a side of beef, talk with your local farmers, a butcher or simply search online to see if any farms list pricing on their website.  LocalHarvest.org is a great option as well as it can connect you with local farmers who are selling beef.

What are the extra costs?

Butchers will either wrap your cuts with butcher paper or vacuum seal.  If the butcher uses butcher paper, then there’s a good chance they will charge extra to vacuum seal your meats.

The cost to ship online or deliver the meat can range anywhere from $20 to $100= depending on the distance as well as the dollar amount of your order.  If you choose to pick it up, this fee can be waived.

Tips to know:

Get your cuts the way you plan on using it.  For example, if you were to use two pounds of ground beef per recipe, then it would be wise to ask for two-pound packages.  Most butchers will be able to do this for you.

Be specific on the cuts you want.  Some butchers may throw away certain parts you may want to use.

Many butchers, according to a member on the Reddit thread mentioned above, said you can get the tongue, liver, heart and bones for free.  Ask before they throw it away as most will be happy to give it to you.

Be prepared for a lot of freezer space.  The average side of beef can fill a freezer four to five feet deep.  Plan on one cubic foot of freezer for every 15 pounds.

How can I save money?

If you have a lot of friends or family members who would like to chip in and get their share, this is a good way to save some money.  If you happen to only purchase choice cuts rather than a variety, you can get a better offer buying the meat separately at your local grocery store.

Instead of purchasing the entire side of beef, consider purchasing the meat by the pound.  Most cuts can vary $2 to $7 per pound depending on many factors.

Buying a side of beef may seem like a costly investment, but when you compare the prices to a grocery store, the quality will not only be higher, but cheaper as well.


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Average Reported Cost: $4900

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0 %
Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. Tom paid $4900 and said: said:

    I said I wanted a 1/2 of beef thinking 1,500$. Then I was told $4,900$ big difference! What is the avg for 12-12-17

    Was it worth it? Yes

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