This Toolbox (which is still evolving) is a How To and your one-stop shop for everything you need to know to buy a whole animal, decide how many people you need to share it with, make sure it's butchered in a way that makes sense, and plan the pick up and division of the meat.

What to do:
1. Decide what you want to buy:
  • Cows weigh about 700-800 pounds when they are killed and are around 400 pounds of meat. They are 1/4 prime grilling/roasting cuts (steaks and some roasts), 1/4 braising cuts (short ribs, back ribs, brisket, and some tougher roasts), and half stew meat or ground beef.
  • Pigs weigh about 200 pounds and yield about 120 pounds of meat. They are about 1/3 grilling/roasting cuts (chops and leg roasts),  1/3 braising cuts (shoulders, ribs, belly), and 1/3 sausage, stew, or ground pork.
  • Lambs are slaughtered at 50-60 pounds and yield 30-40 pounds. They are easily divided among 2-4 people.
2. Decide how much meat you want. If you want 20 pounds of beef, you'll need to find 19 other beef-eaters, etc. Keep in mind that many ranchers sell by the animal HALF, but that it gets complicated to divide up fairly.  
3. Find Ranchers though this listing, and Call to ask about availability and details of slaughter, butchery and delivery. Then post your findings on your group's page. Alternately, generate interest and then make your calls.*
4. The cut/butchery instructions you give can be found at the top of your meatshare worksheets. These worksheets are also where you will input the inventory you get when you pick up your animal. Have one handy when you place your order.
5. Figure out logistics. Who is going to pay, who is going to get the meat, who will host the pick up. Remember to leave a big window to divvy up the cuts. Input your inventory to your worksheet and then divide up the shares.
*Note: sharing a whole animal requires compromise. Not everyone can get filet mignon every time, but with patience, everyone can get it sometimes.

Last updated by Oakland Mar 7, 2011.

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