Ever wonder how many steaks you could get from a cow? It’s a good question whether you are buying or selling, and also one that is difficult to answer without considering quite a few variables.
But we need to know. So, how many steaks are in a cow?
An average-sized cow carcass provides between 100 to 150 steak cuts. The number of steaks that can be obtained from a single carcass varies greatly depending on the size of the animal, its condition, the chosen cuts, and the experience level of the butcher.
That is a heck of a lot of steak for most of us! But like I mentioned, there’s a lot that goes into that final figure, and if you want to sharpen your skills of prediction when it comes time to slaughter, you’ll need to know this stuff.
Keep reading and I will dig into that question even deeper, and tell you about a lot of other related stuff besides. Sharpen your knives and let’s get going.
Do the Types of Cuts Affect the Quantity of Steaks?
Yes, the types of desired cuts impacts the quantity of steaks obtained from a cow, but not drastically.
Different cuts from different parts of the cow provide varying sizes and shapes of steaks, of course, and cuts like ribeye, T-bone, and porterhouse are larger and thicker in comparison to cuts like sirloin and filet mignon, which are smaller and thinner.
Moreover, the way you choose to break down the carcass also affects the bottom-line number.
You may opt for more conservative cuts to maximize the number of steaks, while others may go for fewer, more premium cuts that yield larger and higher-quality steaks.
Do Bigger Cows Give You More Steaks?
As a good rule of thumb, yes, bigger cows do give you more steaks. It is simple: The size of a cow is directly proportional to the amount of meat it has.
A larger cow has more muscle mass, all things equal, and so will yield more steaks than a smaller one…
But this isn’t infallible: a larger but scrawny or sickly cow may well yield far fewer steaks than a “smaller” specimen than one that is hale, hearty and in its prime.
Do Fatter Cows Provide More or Less Steaks?
Sometimes, and even then with a catch. Fatter cows generally yield more steaks, but calling cuts from seriously chubby cows “steak” might be too charitable.
The additional fat in a cow does contribute to the overall weight of the carcass, which can lead to a higher yield of steaks.
However, you must differentiate between “good” fat and “bad” fat when evaluating for slaughter and processing.
Good fat, known as marbling, refers to the small flecks of fat within the muscle tissue itself, and it is this that contributes to the juiciness and succulent flavor of the steak.
On the other hand, bad fat is the excessive accumulation of external fat stores that do not enhance the taste or texture of the meat. They can enhance the seller’s bank account, though, when they are selling by the pound!
While a fatter cow might provide more steaks, it is likely to be waste; trimmed off, and discarded.
The Quality of the Butchering Makes a Difference, Too
More than you might think, the knowledge, experience and expertise of the person doing the butchering counts for a lot.
A skilled butcher with extensive knowledge of different cuts and techniques will maximize the yield of steaks, and minimize waste.
Conversely, an inexperienced or sloppy butcher will produce more waste and substandard cuts.
Do Male or Female Cows Provide More Steaks?
The sex of a cow does have an impact on the number of steaks you’ll get, but the difference is not huge most times.
Male cows, bulls, have more muscle mass, and less fat compared to female cows, as a rule. As a result, bulls generally yield more meat, meaning more steaks.
Do Certain Breeds Have a Higher Yield of Steaks?
Yes, certain breeds of cows are known to be “high producers” due to their size and musculature. For instance, Angus and Hereford cattle are two popular breeds known both for their muscle density and high overall quality meat (and that delicious marbling!)
And then there are some breeds that have been specifically developed over many generations just to maximize meat production, such as the Belgian Blue and Charolais.
These breeds are absolutely huge, and I mean mammoth! Belgian Blue bulls can rock the scales at over 2,300 pounds (1,040 kilograms)!
Such gargantuan cows, obviously, will furnish an immense yield of steaks far beyond what you might expect from more common domestic breeds.
How Can You Maximize the Steaks You Get from Any Cow?
Maximizing the number of steaks you get from any cow means putting it all together, plus a few clever choices when you start thinking outside the box concerning the finished product.
First, ensuring that the cow is well-fed, healthy, and raised in a low-stress environment can lead to better development (and quality) and subsequently higher yields.
Also, like we talked about above, an experienced butcher can make all the difference in maximizing your returns from a cow by extracting the most meat for the least waste.
If your take-home yield seems consistently low, you need to check in on your processor or butcher. You should also consider keeping and eating (or selling) less popular cuts like flat iron, chuck eye, and bavette.
Another tip concerning butchering: consider cutting steaks at thicknesses that are less than “brontosaurus prime rib”.
We’ve all seen these “prestige” cuts and they are a joke for average people: they are far too thick to cook properly and it rarely fails that much of them get wasted after someone tries and fails to scarf them down in one sitting. Dumb!
Processing conservatively, meaning thinner and more reasonable steaks, means that you can get more of any given cut from any given cow.
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.