What is hanging weight? (and why you should avoid buying beef sold this way) - Heartstone Farm

What is hanging weight? (and why you should avoid buying beef sold this way)

By Dan Kaplan


I’m a farmer who sells beef directly to consumers. 

And I’m about to tell you something that might make other beef farmers mad at me.

You shouldn't buy beef by hanging weight.

(Quick definition: hanging weight is the weight of the cow carcass after initial slaughter and processing. It’s the weight of the carcass after the hide, head and some organs have been removed. The actual meat you will receive is typically 60% +/- of the hanging weight.)


Of course you are. 

You don’t buy anything else this way.

You don’t pay for 15 eggs but only receive 12.

You don’t pay for a gallon of milk but only get a half gallon.

It’s ridiculous.


The goal in any business should be to make it easier for someone to buy what you’re selling - not harder.

A few years ago, we stopped selling our Sides and Quarter Shares (freezer beef) by hanging weight. I got tired of explaining the complicated formula to my prospective customers.

And I am pretty sure that many folks felt I wasn’t being straight with them. (Can you imagine someone who is new to buying a Side of beef and what they must be thinking hearing this. It probably sounds like gibberish!)

Instead our farm now sells our beef by the actual weight of the meat you receive.

If you buy a Quarter we'll deliver 85 pounds of meat to you (or maybe a bit more but never less). And we'll tell you upfront what cuts you'll get and how much they'll weigh. (See how we do it here.)

I know - pretty radical, right?

If you buy a beef share by hanging weight and you want to know how many Ribeye steaks you'll be getting...well, good luck. The farmer might give you an estimate - and it'll probably be pretty close. But a guess is still a guess.

If we farmers want to sell directly to consumers, we need to also become marketers. And put ourselves in the shoes of consumers.

As a consumer, what do you care about?

Not some odd anachronistic formula that has to do with carcass and slaughter etc.

You’re want to know how many eggs are in the carton. Or how much milk is in the jug.

Or how much beef is in your freezer - in pounds!

1 Comment

  • I understand your point, but custom processors don’t always give a finished (packaged) weight. Also, customers often choose unusual cuts that we might not have a price established for. I struggle with all of this as a beef producer, trying to be fair and predictable.

    Lynn Mizner

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