1/4 Cow - is it worth it? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 02-25-2008, 09:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have the opportunity to get a 1/4 or 1/2 cow. 100% grass fed, certified organic, good price per pound. Thing is, I've never done this before. For those of you that have, do you like going this route? (usually I order specific cuts from the guy at the farmer's market whenever I want). Do you suggest going the whole 1/2? If I go 1/4, what 1/4?
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#2 of 29 Old 02-25-2008, 09:48 PM
 
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#3 of 29 Old 02-25-2008, 09:49 PM
 
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Do you have the space to store it?

If yes, I'd get the largest share you can afford. Per pound, it's usually cheaper.

I can get grassfed beef at the store for $5-25/lb depending on cut. I can buy a quarter cow for something like $3/lb, and a 1/2 for about $2.50. That makes it so worth it.

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#4 of 29 Old 02-25-2008, 10:43 PM
 
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I got my first 1/4 steer in October-ish and have been very happy with it. The biggest downside is that I've realized that I like to cook with ground beef, and even filling out my cutting form so that I maximized my ground beef, I'm still running low. I've also had to learn how to deal with some new cuts (probably not in the most elegant way, but hey, it's been tasty).

Our rancher does split quarters, so I didn't have to decide which quarter.

I did this for affordability, but I think I like it, even with (or maybe because of) the challenges of learning new stuff.
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#5 of 29 Old 02-25-2008, 11:11 PM
 
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We started out with a quarter the first time we bought beef direct from a farm, and it was a great decision. Our farmer does mixed quarters, so you don't have to decide which quarter to get. Everyone gets a bit of everything.

I say go for it. It's a huge cost savings.

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#6 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 02:34 AM
 
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1/4 of a cow is totally worth it! We did that our first year, then this year they did a CSA style with 3 deliveries per year.

Due with number 5 in August. We do all that crunchy stuff.
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#7 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 09:50 AM
 
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I'm thinking of getting a quarter this year. How big of a freezer should I have? I'm going to have to get the freezer before I think about the cow!

mama to L (4) and G (1.5)
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#8 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by TanyaLopez View Post
I got my first 1/4 steer in October-ish and have been very happy with it. The biggest downside is that I've realized that I like to cook with ground beef, and even filling out my cutting form so that I maximized my ground beef, I'm still running low.
And I'm just the opposite. We got ours last June and I'm all out of roasts, but still have quite a bit of ground beef left. Definitely worth it!! We're planning on having another garage sale this year to pay for it (my MIL sends all sorts of stuff for gifts that we don't want/won't use so I can finally get something we want!)
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#9 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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It's absolutely worth it! Like a PP said, I have had to learn how to cook some cuts that I've never had before. But, all I have to do is google what the cut is and I find recipes/guidelines in no time. I love the adventure! I love, love, love having a stock of good beef on hand, and the freedom of eating however much we want.

I think the formula for guessing how much will fit in your freezer is 30 pounds per cubic foot. I don't know what I was thinking when I bought our dinky chest freezer. Buy the biggest you can afford and have the space for!! Ours is just 8.3 cubic feet, which means we can fit 240 pounds, plus the odds and ends of other things. That's not quite a quarter of a big steer! But I found a local ranch that raises smaller cows, so maybe we'll work something out.

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#10 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 11:46 AM
 
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we bought the biggest freezer we could find. it is huge, but it is almost always full. so handy for freezing stock or beans, when i make big batches.

it is so worthwhile to buy big amounts of meat- you get the bones, and the organs depending on your share (since we raised our own bull last time we got everything, but it still applies to sharing) when we slaughtered our pig we got the leaf fat, etc. it is also environmentally much more sound, an important factor to consider.

after moving from a 'city' lifestyle to this one, it took me a long time to know what to do with a whole chicken or roasts as opposed to pieced chicken or meat. but a whole chicken, for example, is easy to cut up an then you have the neck & back for stock too... saves money. and a whole chuck roast is also easy to cut up for stew or stir-fry, things like that. just remember to thaw it and keep a sharp knife. you have much more control over the way the meat is cut.

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#11 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 12:36 PM
 
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Absolutely! Get the 1/2 if you can afford it! We've gotten a couple of quarters - our farmer does mixed quarters too. I take *everything*, the heart - see if you can have the heart ground in *with* the ground beef, you'll never know it's there - I get the kidneys, liver, tongue & oxtail - exdp eats the tongues, makes tongue tacos (he's from Mexico.) Ask for as many bones as you can get - even the dog bones - good for stocks.

I LOVE having a stocked freezer.

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#12 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks guys, I think I'll go for it! (as an ex-vegan, can't believe I'm saying this! )

I'll be sure to ask for the bones and organs. Grinding the heart with the meat is a good idea - thanks. I also checked with the butcher and they mix the 1/4s so I won't have to pick which one so that's good.

I'll be getting it for $2.59/lb which is a really good price here but I'm wondering how much a cow weighs? IOW, how much is a 1/4 going to cost me all together?
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#13 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 03:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by erin a View Post
I'll be getting it for $2.59/lb which is a really good price here but I'm wondering how much a cow weighs? IOW, how much is a 1/4 going to cost me all together?
That's really going to depend on the breed of cow, and at what age it's being butchered. Really, it's a question best asked of the farmer you're buying from.

The local farmer I was looking at charges about $330/split quarter, which includes the butcher fees, hanging fees, etc., but not delivery.

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#14 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 04:39 PM
 
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Do you have the space to store it?

If yes, I'd get the largest share you can afford. Per pound, it's usually cheaper.

I can get grassfed beef at the store for $5-25/lb depending on cut. I can buy a quarter cow for something like $3/lb, and a 1/2 for about $2.50. That makes it so worth it.
How much space does 1/4 or 1/2 cow take up?

The biggest freezer we could get down the basement stairs was a 7 cu ft, and there's not a lot there right now, though we have plans for the summer. Coudl we do a 1/4 cow?

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#15 of 29 Old 02-26-2008, 09:12 PM
 
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Our 1/4 cow was 149 lbs (hanging weight, which I think includes skin and hooves and stuff, and I have no idea how much that would add up to), so if the 30#/cubic foot is close, then it could be as little as 5 cu ft. But it would be packed in pretty tight, it seems, and hard to see what's still there. And I don't know what breed of cow that was, or how much variation is typical.
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#16 of 29 Old 02-27-2008, 09:19 AM
 
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I'm looking at a 1/4 that ends up being around 100 lbs of packed meat. They said it would fit in 2 banana boxes (whatever that means) and its $3/lb so it would be somewhere between $300-400.

Sounds good to me! I'm so excited! Now I just need my dh to get on board. He's doing it to please me but I think he'll be excited to see a freezer full of meat. I'm planning to get a freezer of craigslist or from the paper. I've seen a bunch of them for 100 bucks. Anything I should look for in a freezer besides size?

mama to L (4) and G (1.5)
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#17 of 29 Old 02-27-2008, 09:22 AM
 
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I'm looking at a 1/4 that ends up being around 100 lbs of packed meat. They said it would fit in 2 banana boxes (whatever that means) and its $3/lb so it would be somewhere between $300-400.

Sounds good to me! I'm so excited! Now I just need my dh to get on board. He's doing it to please me but I think he'll be excited to see a freezer full of meat. I'm planning to get a freezer of craigslist or from the paper. I've seen a bunch of them for 100 bucks. Anything I should look for in a freezer besides size?
what farm are you getting your cow from? I'm in MA, so Maine is drivable for cow for me.
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#18 of 29 Old 02-27-2008, 09:45 AM
 
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I'm getting it from Aldermere Farmin Rockport. Its not organic or 100% free range. On the website they state that they finish with grain so I don't know if you would be insterested in that. But I know that the cows are mostly free range and well cared for. I have been buying their ground beef at the local co-op for the last year and its good stuff!

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#19 of 29 Old 02-27-2008, 12:45 PM
 
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First of all, yes it is absolutely worth it to get as much as you can fit into a freezer. Secondly, if you are buying a freezer to put it in, get the biggest you can afford. I did this last year and it has seriously already paid for itself! We bought 1/4 beef, bunch of chickens and pork "family pack" to start off with and it looked like we had overbought on our freezer size. Then within about 2 months the thing was really starting to fill up with doubled meals, local produce, etc. I am saving SO much money by having a stockpile of grassfed meat and also being able to store fruits and veggies when they are in season. My freezer is 80% full right now and gets regularly rotated through. I'd really recommend an upright if you can as they are much easier to organize so you don't waste anything. We have loved having the meat we bought so much that we are buying some more next month (hams, bacon, turkey, etc) and then a 1/2 cow this fall. The price difference for buying in bulk is really worth it and it is makes it easier to budget and meal plan. This way we can get the quality of food we want but still keep a reasonable budget.

Your price sounds really good, we paid about $4 something lb for our beef.

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#20 of 29 Old 02-27-2008, 01:26 PM
 
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I bought a 1/4 of a grassfed bison. I got the front 1/4 so there would be chuck roasts and not too many steaks, except for ribeyes I believe (The kids find the steaks too chewy, and I LOVE chuck.) It's worked out really well for us. Don't forget to ask for soup bones.
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#21 of 29 Old 02-27-2008, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tabitha View Post
it is so worthwhile to buy big amounts of meat- you get the bones, and the organs depending on your share (since we raised our own bull last time we got everything, but it still applies to sharing) when we slaughtered our pig we got the leaf fat, etc. it is also environmentally much more sound, an important factor to consider.
Or in it might, as in our case, depend on who else it's being split with. I get the feeling when we got ours that the others weren't really into those kind of things b/c we got them ALL!! :0)
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#22 of 29 Old 02-28-2008, 11:29 AM
 
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we really want to do this too...buy 1/4 a cow...if we can come up with the $$. do you have to buy at a certain time of year?

amanda... lovin' my dh since 2004 and mama to dd (3), ds (18 months) and expecting someone new Oct 2010.
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#23 of 29 Old 02-28-2008, 06:53 PM
 
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Definitely worth it! Such a great value compared to buying grassfed meats by the piece.

fek&fuzz, if you're up for a drive north, check out Morris Farm. It's an organic, horse-powered community farm; all pastured animals, no grain finishing, and it's owned by a wonderful natural-minded family. We've helped take care of the animals through their homeschooling program, and I can attest that their dairy is sparkling clean and the animals have a good life. They sell cow shares, lambs, pigs, chickens and turkeys and I think geese.

Tending a garden of little ones. stillheart.gif
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#24 of 29 Old 03-01-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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cool, naturemama! Thanks for the link. I have been asking around about farms other than Aldermere and its good to have another one to consider!

mama to L (4) and G (1.5)
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#25 of 29 Old 03-03-2008, 01:40 AM
 
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Very interesting topic :

I'd like to know how do you freeze your bulk bought grainfed beef in a TF manner, if that makes any sense? :

My grandmother always said to check that the plastic bag with the frozen veggies are always sealed after use, otherwise it will get frostbite and turn tasteless. I assume the same thing applies to meat? I would hate to store my meat in plastic containers. What do I do?
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#26 of 29 Old 03-03-2008, 05:48 AM
 
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We have bought 1/4 cows and loved it. It was the best beef ever! Our beef came wrapped in the butcher paper so I never had to worry about plastic with it. I would assume that your beef would come in the same manner.

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#27 of 29 Old 03-03-2008, 11:19 PM
 
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We have bought 1/4 cows and loved it. It was the best beef ever! Our beef came wrapped in the butcher paper so I never had to worry about plastic with it. I would assume that your beef would come in the same manner.
FYI, most butcher paper anymore is actually paper lined with plastic, just like the "wax paper" that the butchers and delis use anymore isn't actually wax paper, it's plastic.

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#28 of 29 Old 03-03-2008, 11:21 PM
 
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but at least you don't really HAVE to rewrap it, right?

Due with number 5 in August. We do all that crunchy stuff.
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#29 of 29 Old 03-03-2008, 11:41 PM
 
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but at least you don't really HAVE to rewrap it, right?
Eh. Butcher paper is not airtight, so while it's better than freezing it unwrapped, even better (for the meat, not the environment) would be to put the wrapped package into a plastic bag.

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