You may have some ground beef or a couple cuts of steak in the freezer for future meals, but what about freezing half a cow? Before you balk at the idea of having all of that meat in your freezer, you should consider the fact many people have turned to purchasing a quarter or half of a cow in a process called “cow sharing” or “cowpooling” that has grown more popular in recent years.
There are many reasons why cow sharing appeals to people who eat red meat and are looking for a more sustainable option. Instead of settling for beef that’s often of a lower grade from controversial factory farms, you can get access to higher-quality meat while supporting local farmers and ranchers. Depending on where and when you buy as well as what your diet is, you could also end up saving money and time on grocery shopping.
If you’re considering purchasing half a cow yourself, the big questions are how to do it and whether or not you’ll have enough room to store it. To make sure you’re well-prepared, here’s what you need to know about buying the meat and exactly how much freezer space you need for half a cow.
How to Buy Half a Cow
You can’t just walk into your go-to grocery store and ask to purchase a whole or half cow, but the actual process isn’t as complicated as you might think. First, you need to find a local farmer who sells beef. One way to do this is to visit a farmers market in your area and speak to the vendors who are selling beef. Other options are to use an online database like Eatwild or LocalHarvest, or to simply Google “cowsharing” or “cattle/beef farm near me” and see what comes up.
Once you’ve found your farm, you should feel free to ask questions about how they raise their cows so you can be confident that you’re getting the quality of meat that you want from a source that you trust. You’ll also need to discuss with the farm about price and what kind of cuts you want.
The Price of Half a Cow
Even if you’re convinced about the benefits of cowsharing, you need to consider how much half a cow costs so you can be prepared to invest that amount upfront — unlike spending much lower amounts but more frequently throughout the year for smaller individual or family-size packages.
The price for half a cow often falls in the range between $5 to $10 per pound. This price varies based on a few different factors, such as:
- Current nationwide prices for beef
- Types of cuts you’re getting
- The farm’s processing/butchering fee
- Whether or not there is a delivery cost
How Much Meat Do You Get from Half a Cow?
While you have an idea of much half a cow is in terms of price, there’s also the matter of how much is half a cow of meat. On average, an adult beef cow weighs around 1,200 to 1,400 pounds, about three times more than some wild boar and reindeer. An animal’s live weight is not equivalent to how much meat weight there is though since you have to exclude things like the head, the hide, some of the bones, and the organs.
Depending on the size of the cow you purchase, you could expect to get around 200 to 300 pounds of meat from half a cow. While different people require different amounts of protein intake per day, a standard serving size of meat is 3.5 ounces, which is around 0.22 pounds, so you can see just how many meals you can make and barbecues you can host from half a cow!
Freezer Size for Half a Cow
So now that you have your half a cow, how much freezer space do you need for it? The general recommendation is to have at least eight to 10 cubic feet of freezer space for half a cow. If you convert that to liters, that’s about 227 to 283 liters of space. How much exact space you need can vary since different cuts of meat are packaged in different ways.
For some comparsion, standard top freezers that are part of refrigerators have about four to five cubic feet of storage. Meanwhile, a chest freezer (the ones that open from the top) can have anywhere from three to 17 plus cubic feet of space.
What If You Don’t Have Enough Freezer Space for Half a Cow?
Unless you have a whole freezer that’s going to be solely dedicated to beef, you should leave some extra space in your estimates for any other food that might need to go in there one day.
If you’d like to purchase half a cow but don’t currently have enough freezer space to store it, then you could consider buying a separate chest freezer if you have the extra square footage to put in your garage, utility room, or basement.
How to Store Half a Cow in the Freezer
You don’t want to go through all the trouble of buying and keeping half a cow only for it to go bad because you haven’t stored it properly! To make your life easier, separate each type of cut you receive into different bags so you can always choose and thaw just what you want to eat. Label each container too so you remember exactly what’s inside since you might forget in the weeks and months to come.
To help your meat last as long as possible and to preserve its flavor, you may consider vacuum sealing some or all of your beef. Otherwise, you can use airtight plastic bags or freezer-safe containers like Tupperware.
Making the Right Moo-ves for Udder Success
Before you sign up to buy half a cow, it’s a smart move to make sure you have the right amount of freezer space at home to store all the meat that’s coming your way. By doing so, you’ll be set for success when the farmer is ready to give you your beef and then you can enjoy all of your different cuts for many months to come.
Cindy is a freelance writer and editor with previous experience in marketing as well as book publishing. Along with her content writing for a diverse portfolio of clients, Cindy’s work has been featured in Thrillist, The Points Guy, Forbes, and more.