Buying in Bulk?

Understanding the Math Behind the Meat

So you have made the decision to go direct to the farm to order your beef, but you are not entirely sure of the process. Understanding what happens behind the scenes is important if you are going to make the right choice for your family and pocketbook.

Did you know ...

Most beef producers sell a beef half based on its "hot hanging weight" — how much it weighs shortly after processing. After they are weighed, beef halves are moved into a cooler to be either wet- or dry-aged (please see Dry-Aged Beef for more information).

Large federally inspected processing facilities can only wet age beef because of space limitations — they process far too many cattle every day to be able to keep that quantity of meat in their facilities for very long. Almost all major retailers and restaurants source their meat from these larger plants so they can maintain their federal inspection status — therefore they only sell wet aged beef for this reason. NOTE: There are prominent natural and organic producers in Alberta that use these large factory plants to process their animals, so before you purchase anything, ask whether their meat is wet or dry aged to get the full story.

Another way to gauge what kind of processing plant a producer is using is whether their products are sold fresh or frozen. If they are sold fresh they have most likely come from a factory farm where their volumes are so high that they have to use large federal plants (yes there are organic and natural factory farms). The logistics of selling fresh meat are almost insurmountable to small producers unless they own their own processing facility — something very rare but does exist in the industry (so please ask).

Many producers use small provincially-inspected plants that will dry age their beef for between 7 to 10 days. This value-added service improves tenderness and flavour in beef and is prized by the finest chefs. Normally the beef will shrink (dry) between 5 and 8% during this process. After aging, a beef half is cut and wrapped in brown butcher paper based on what a customer requests and it is normal to lose 35% of the original weight in bones and fat. When you add this loss to the expected shrinkage, it is normal to receive approximately 57% of the half originally purchased. So if a half had a hot hanging weight of 400 lbs a person can expect to receive 228 lbs of boneless meat in their order. Many producers add the cost of cutting and wrapping onto what they charged for the half, and it is not unusual for them to ask the customer to pick up their order at the plant where it was processed — or to charge a delivery fee. Better to ask what to expect than be surprised.

On TK Ranch we do things a little differently. We dry age our beef for 21 days for optimum flavour and tenderness. This includes vacuum packaging all of our beef to extend its shelf life in your freezer — a very convenient packaging option when thawing our products. We have also standardized the cuts we offer based on years of experience dealing with our customers. For those people with limited space or financial resources we also offer quarters and eighths to better fit a bulk order into their buying habits.

Too much ground beef? We've got some tasty options to help you out of the grind. For a small processing fee we can substitute our value added processed meats for ground beef. This way you can enjoy our patties, artisan sausages, nitrite free garlic sausages, smokies, pepperoni sticks and sandwich meats to change it up a bit. Simply tell us how many pounds of each that you would like and we will get as close as possible to your request.

Sharing with friends or family? We will gladly divide your order into equal portions (as closely as possible) for no extra charge. We will weigh, box, invoice and individually identify each person's share so all you have to do is hand out the boxes on your end.

Keeping the math simple is also important. We charge a flat price per pound which includes the cutting, vacuum packaging and delivery to one of our pick-up locations in either Edmonton or Calgary (see our Delivery Dates calendar). The price we charge is based on the weight that actually goes into your freezer — not on the hot hanging weight. No lengthy calculations, just simple math.

TK Ranch® · Ethical By Nature® · Alberta, Canada
An ethical and humane choice for quality grass-fed beef and lamb, heritage pork, free-range chicken and turkey
No antibiotics · No drugs · No added hormones · No animal by-products · No chemical insecticides
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