How Much Is Half A Cow - Costs and What To Expect

January 04, 2023 7 min read

How Much Is Half A Cow - Costs and What To Expect

Have you ever considered buying half a cow? Are you nervous that you might have too much meat? Or that you don’t know enough about purchasing half a cow to finally take the leap?

That happens a lot. We were nervous the first time too. We mean, what if the meat didn’t taste good? Or we couldn’t eat it all before it went bad? There were so many things that could go wrong.

Which is why we were pleasantly surprised with the results we had when we purchased our half cow from Simpson Farms. 

Why Buy Directly from Farmers?

First, let’s address why you should always buy directly from farmers when purchasing fresh beef. The goal of farmers who sell the meat from their cows to customers is to always offer quality meat. After all, if the quality isn’t there, no one is going to return to purchase more. 

Farmers can also answer any questions you have about the entire process of buying a half or whole cow. They can tell you exactly what type of meat you will be getting. As well as the quantities. They may even work with you if you want your meat packaged or divided in a specific way. They can create beef bundles for you too. You may even find they are willing to break down 20-pound beef boxes for you. If they normally offer 20-pound beef boxes. 

Half a Cow Price

The price of a half a cow will vary according to the farmer and where you are located. On average, the half of a cow cost is anywhere between $1700 - $2,400, inclusive of shipping, at the time of this article (December 2022). 

How Much Meat is Half Cow

There is a big consideration when you decide to buy half a cow - I've seen "half a cow" that includes 140lbs of beef, and another farm that has "half a cow" but includes 200lbs of beef for almost the same price.

This would be the first number I look at when making a purchasing decision.

Buy Half a Cow

Two important numbers to pay attention to: 

1. how many total pounds you are getting

2. how many of that total pounds is ground beef.

After noting how much total pounds of meat you're getting, the 2nd number to look at, is how much of that number is ground beef.

This seems to vary widely - I've been 70lbs of ground beef (that's 70x 1lb packages at the grocery store, normally around $6-$8 each), up to 120lbs of ground beef.

lots of ground beef in freezer

Remember, the meat you are purchasing is fresh. And honestly, it is a deal when compared to the prices you will pay for the same amount of meat from the grocery store.

After all, you are getting around 200 pounds of beef from your half of a cow. That makes it about $10 per pound and that includes the cost of butchering. 

Honestly, you can’t get a better deal on beef than half a cow. Well, maybe with a whole cow! 

Half a Cow Butchered

When you decide to buy a half a cow, you need to realize you aren’t getting the meat in an hour or two. There is a process that needs to be followed. 

First, the cow must be butchered. Butchering a cow means cutting all the different types of meat. Some of the beef will need to be ground up. And of course, all the meat will need to be packaged appropriately. 

Half a Cow Cuts of Meat

Half a cow cuts vary slightly. However, to give you an idea of what you can plan on receiving when you buy half a cow, this is what cuts of beef included in our last shipment from Simpsons Meats - it is literally half of a cow!

Total meat: 200lbs
Total cost: $2100
Price per pound: $10.50

  • Ground beef - 120 pounds in 1 pound packages
  • Filet mignon - 6 - 8 ounce steaks
  • New York strips - 8 - 12 ounce steaks
  • Ribeye - 10 - 12 ounce steaks 
  • Flank steak - 1 pound
  • Skirt steak - 4 pounds
  • Stew meat packs - 8 pounds
  • Flat iron - 1 pound
  • Tri-tip - 2 pounds
  • Sirloin steaks - 6 - 8 ounces steaks
  • Coulotte - 2 pounds
  • Round roasts - 25 pounds
  • Chuck roasts - 8 pounds
  • Bone-in short ribs - 4 pounds
  • Brisket - 8 pounds

We had a lot of fun learning how to trim a brisket and then slathering it with seasoning and slow cooking it!

brisket on cutting board

If you are keeping track, the list above gives 200 lbs of beef! And YES, when it arrived, the first thing I did was count and tally them up. It was spot on - I was very impressed!

Some farms will let you request bones and offals for a nominal cost, or free of charge.

3 Top Things to Consider When Buying Half a Cow

1. You have to cook "weird" cuts you aren't used to (we cooked brisket for the first time!)

2. You need an extra freezer - it won't fit in your standard kitchen fridge (we bought this one that costs around $499)

3. You have 6 months - 1 year to eat them all.

#1 - Weird Cuts

If you're not a good cook, or aren't willing to eat a lot of roasts and slow cooked meats this might not be the best choice for you.

It was easy to cook the steaks and the ground beef...but when all of that is gone, what you're left with is: lots of stew meat, a giant piece of brisket, a large hunk of eye round steak, a large round roast, and some chuck roasts.

chuck roast from half a cow

These cuts require long cook times in the oven, the smoker, or the slow cooker - they are also large pieces so it's only appropriate to cook them for parties. 

For a family of 4, it was hard for me to find opportunities to cook the roasts, the brisket, or the coulette - and the kids complain about having to eat beef stew. 

Buying half a cow is only "cheap" per pound, if you actually eat all of it!

How Much Freezer Space for Half a Cow 

You need at least a 7 cubic feet freezer.

7 cubic feet chest freezer for half a cow

We bought a 7.0 cu. ft. chest freezer, similar to this one here. It fit everything all right, but pretty snug. If you can get a slightly larger one, I would. Being a chest freezer, it was hard to access and easily grab what you want - all the meats just kind of pile on each other.

If you don't mind the cost I would definitely go for an upright freezer for easier access. I had an extra stand-up freezer in my basement so it was fine. If you don't mind digging through to get stuff, 7 cu ft is a good freezer to get.

Here's the general math: 1 cubic foot of space in the freezer for every 30 lbs of beef you get. You may want to allow more space, so it isn’t as jam-packed. That way you can move things around easier. 

As I said, my 7.0 cu. ft fit 200 lbs of beef, but pretty snug.

Shelf-Life of Frozen Half of Cow

The meat you get from buying half a cow will last for 1 year in the freezer. But only if it is vacuum sealed. If the frozen beef is simply wrapped in paper, or shrink wrapped, it won’t last as long before getting freezer burn. 

vacuum sealed short ribs

It is important to know your family’s beef consumption before buying any amount of beef. You don’t want any fresh beef going to waste. If you don’t think you will use it all, consider a beef share with friends or family. 

How Long Does Half a Cow Last for a Family of 4

For us, we're a family of 4: 2 adults and 2 growing teenage boys. We're a family of meat lovers. These 200 lbs of beef last just around 6 months - that includes mostly dinners since I don't cook lunch very much (the kids prefer school lunch, apparently).

Why We Chose Simpson's Farms

Okay, so above, we mentioned we purchased half a cow from Simpson’s Farms.

Before we settled on Simpson’s Farms, we spent a few days researching. We wanted grass-fed and grass-finished beef. Simpson’s Farms was the cheapest, without sacrificing quality. 

Oh, and if you don’t know what grass-fed beef and grass-finished beef is, let us explain. Grass-fed cattle start out eating grass. Then their diets are supplemented with grains. Grass-finished cattle solely eat grass and forage for food their entire lives. 

cows eating grass

This was important to us, because grain diets have a few downsides. Grain contains byproducts, protein supplements, and sometimes even beef tallow. The grain allows the cows to gain weight quickly. But it also allows cows to ingest hormones. We didn’t want any of that. 

Bones and Organs, yes please!

We did choose to receive the bones from our half of a cow. We knew we would use them to make lots of bone broth. We freeze them in paper cups of 1-cup portions. It was nice to have beef stock readily available for any recipe that calls for it.

marrow bones

The beef liver and beef hearts, etc., we eat for health benefits. Honestly, not that great tasting but we do it for the health benefits.

Our Recommendation

    First of, we'd like to report - we received our meat 4 months ago. It is just as red and beautiful as it was on the day we received it!  

    As for whether or not you should do it - do it only if you're ready to:

    1. Buy a additional freezer (this 7 cubic feet freezer is perfect)

    2. Eat lots and lots of ground beef

    3. Don't mind cooking a lot of roasts, slow cooked meats, bbq meats, and smoked cuts of beef you've never cooked before such as coulette, brisket, eye round, round roast, etc.

    graphic of a cow and all the cuts

    If you're not super familiar with cow cuts and where they come from, be sure to check out our other article on the complete guide to beef cuts.

    It's a good time to experiment with cows and their cuts! 

    Related Posts

    What is untrimmed brisket
    What is untrimmed brisket
    What is untrimmed brisket? You have to trim the fat off a brisket, leaving behind only 1/4 inch of fat, if you want to s
    Read More
    How Long Do Smoked Meat Last?
    How Long Do Smoked Meat Last?
    How long does smoked meat last? That depends on how you smoke it. If you use the cold smoking method, that will preserve
    Read More
    Can You Grill Chicken From Frozen? Best Way To Cook Frozen Chicken
    Can You Grill Chicken From Frozen? Best Way To Cook Frozen Chicken
    Can you grill frozen chicken breasts or chicken thighs? Yes, but add 50% more cooking time and reduce your temperature o
    Read More