Bulk Meat Share FAQ
April 25, 2022
Considering buying a bulk meat share (a quarter, half or whole beef or a half or whole pig) but have questions? You're in good company!
It is a rewarding purchase, but there are a few things to understand. This page is here to help.
Many of your questions will be addressed below. However, feel free to reach out to us for further clarification! We are happy to help you.
How much meat will I get? How much freezer space do I need?
In general, 35-40 lbs of meat will fit in one cubic foot of space if it is packed in boxes with moderate care. Below is a guide for wrapped yield and freezer planning, assuming an average sized animal with standard cut and wrap (includes some bone), and moderate care in packing the meat into boxes for storage.
- 1/4 Beef: 100 lbs / 3 cu ft
- 1/2 Beef: 200 lbs / 6 cu ft
- 1/2 Pig: 80 lbs / 2.5 cu ft
- Whole Pig: 160 lbs / 5 cu ft
What is “hanging weight?”
Hanging weight is the weight of the animal after slaughter, once all inedible parts have been removed (like the skin, hooves and entrails). It is the weight of the carcass as soon as it arrives at the butcher shop, before aging, and is the weight used to charge you both for the meat and for cut and wrap.
Why do I get back less meat than the hanging weight?
By its nature, beef needs to age (or "hang") to become tender and develop its full flavor profile. This dry aging process usually lasts 10-14 days for quality grass-fed beef like ours. There is some shrinkage, or moisture loss, during this time. Pork does not age as long, but still hangs up to about a week and loses some weight due to shrinkage.
For both beef and pork - after aging, additional weight is lost to trimming fat and removing some of the bones. Wrapped yield will depend to some degree on your cut instructions, but on average the yield will be about 70-75% with a standard cut (includes some bone-in cuts).
What cuts will I get?
To some degree it is your choice! You can choose to lean more heavily to roasts or steaks or grind, depending on your preference. At the same time there are only so many steaks on an animal. Below is a general breakdown by type of cut.
- 50% Ground Meat
- 25% Roasts & Stew
- 15% Quality Steaks
- 10% Misc (short ribs, soup bones, etc)
With a quarter beef will I get the front quarter or the back quarter?
Neither. A quarter is a split half. The butcher shop cuts the half beef and then divides the packages evenly between two quarter beef customers.
What do you mean I have to call the butcher shop with cut instructions? Help!
No need to fear! We have a Q&A sheet to help you plan your cut and wrap. It includes our standard cut and wrap instructions that you can choose to use as-is. Also, the butcher shop will walk you through the questions and help you. Download Standard Beef Cut and Wrap Instructions. Standard Pork Cut and Wrap Instructions.
How is the meat packaged?
You have two options to choose from: Paper and plastic or vacuum sealed plastic. With paper and plastic, meat is wrapped in one inner layer of plastic and one outer layer of freezer paper. Vacuum sealed plastic is similar to our by-the-cut retail meat. Ground meat is always packaged in plastic sleeves/chubs.
Vacuum sealed plastic generally has a longer storage life and does a better job at protecting from freezer burn, but comes at an additional cost.
Which butcher shop do you use?
Sunrise Meats in Port Angeles. This is where you will pick up the meat.
How are the animals harvested?
Animals are slaughtered on the farm in their familiar environment in a calm, humane manner. The carcasses are transported by the slaughter truck to the butcher shop for aging/hanging, cut and wrap, and freezing.
Is the beef Dry Aged?
Yes! Dry aging is the traditional method of aging and produces a high quality product (as opposed to the wet aging that typifies most beef in the grocery store).
Why do I have to pay a deposit and then finish paying later?
The deposit forms an agreement between you and the farmer. It also helps meet the regulation requiring you to own the animal before slaughter. See also the question below regarding the reasons behind the multi-step process. We do not charge the entire cost of the animal up front for reasons of fairness – each animal is different and we only want to charge you for what you will actually receive so we wait until we have the final weight.
Why is buying “custom” bulk meat a more complicated process?
The complicated process is to meet the dictates of current meat regulations. In order to have the animals harvested on the farm and take advantage of the cut and wrap services offered by small local butcher shops, we must follow the constraints of what is essentially a loophole in the regulations.
Meat packaged at local “custom” butcher shops cannot be resold, so for a legal transaction you must technically own the animal before slaughter. Since you own the animal (or a portion of it) you are exempt from the meat regulations and can have your meat processed at a local butcher shop. We, as the farmer, facilitate this part of the process by arranging slaughter and scheduling with the butcher shop. Your payment of a deposit on the animal before it is slaughtered, and a separate payment to the butcher shop for processing, signal that you own the animal before slaughter.
By contrast, for retail sales of packaged meat like you find on our website and in grocery stores, we are required to have the animals harvested and processed at a USDA inspected facility. This entails hauling the animals to an inspected facility for slaughter and higher processing costs due to the higher level of inspection. (A side note, the local custom meat shops are still safety inspected, but at the more local WSDA level, rather than the federal USDA level.)
We are here to help! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 360-531-0404