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Hanging Weight vs. Packaged Weight

written by

Josh Bauman

posted on

January 4, 2022

In this blog, I will address a sometimes confusing topic that comes up when a quarter, half, or whole beef or hog is purchased. What’s the difference between hanging weight and cut weight?

Hanging weight is the recorded weight after the animal has been killed and dressed, but not deboned and broken down into cuts. It is the weight of the dressed carcass, bones and all.

Packaged weight is the recorded weight after the carcass has been deboned and cut into steaks, roasts, ground meat, etc. So the packaged weight is the actual weight of the meat you put in your freezer.

Now the question; when you purchase a bulk order such as a quarter or half beef or hog, why do farms normally charge by hanging weight rather than the actual weight you are taking home?

The reason this is done is to keep things consistent and fair. There are hundreds of ways you can get beef or pork cut, and sometimes you have the option of bone-in cuts, or boneless cuts. The actual take-home weight of your order will vary based on whether you get boneless cuts or bone-in cuts, and whether you take the soup bones, organs, etc., etc. If you want a lot of bone-in cuts, and pay by packaged weight, you would pay a lot more for the same quarter of beef than your friend, who gets all boneless cuts. So when you pay for the hanging weight, you are just paying for the carcass weight of your order, and how you cut it is entirely up to you.

So is the farmer ripping you off? He’s charging you for bones and fat and waste right? Actually, he’s not ripping you off, because if you would buy meat by packaged price, the price per pound would be substantially higher because of the reduction in weight due to bones and other waste.

So if you thought you paid for a quarter of beef that was 175 pounds, but the weight you take home is only a little over 100 pounds, don’t worry, your not getting short-changed. The price was adjusted to compensate for the weight loss.

Also, if you see that packaged meat prices are substantially higher per pound than the quarter or side prices, it’s not that the meat actually costs that much more. (It will cost a little more per pound to buy individual cuts because you normally get a volume discount when you buy bulk) The packaged prices just need to be higher, again because of the weight loss due to bones and waste.

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