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May 31, 2006 09:10 AM

Ever Bought 1/2 a cow?

  • m

In my quest to eat better quality, evironmentally friendly, and locally, I am considering buying half a cow. Does anyone have any experience with this? I'd really like to know how the quality was, how much and what you actually get, and costs. Also, any advice on where to buy good organic local(regionally grown) beef, chicken and pork would be appreciated.

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  1. This site might answer a lot of your questions. If your looking for a whole or half meat animal, you'll need to pre-order at most places. Beef and Lamb are usually available in late fall.


    1 Reply
    1. re: HwyStar

      Thanks, that site is really helpful.

    2. I bought a whole deer and I can tell you that it was the best food purchase in my life. I had all the meat butchered to order (sausage, preseasoned roasts, etc). Fabulous! I bought mine from a friend who hunts but I believe that you can find farmers at your local farm stands who either sell/butcher their cows own or know someone who does. I know there was someone at the Harvard Square farmers market last year as well as Cohasset one too. Good luck!

      1. One word of advise I would like to offer is make sure you know how much meat is 1/2 cow (or other animal for that matter) so you have sufficient freezer space and won't have to eat it for the rest of you life.
        Ask the seller not only how many pounds you are going to get but also how much space you need for it.
        When I was bought meat in bulk the first time, it was quite a surprise how much I was going to get. Luckily I found someone who was willing to split the purchase with me or I would have been seriously overwhelmed.

        1. I do this twice a year, ordering from Paul at River Rock Farm in South Westport. He'll want a deposit, nd you pay the rest when you go to pick it up. I split my half cow with five friends, and that's plenty of meat for me every six months, but my friend with kids and a lot of Italian family around all the time tends to run out. I pay $5.50/pound for grass-fed, organic meat. It's the best-tasting meat I've ever had - meaty and rich. It's true that grass-fed meat is a little tougher, but I only find that's an issue with the very toughest cuts, the ones you would want to braise anyway. If you ask, Paul will include the tongue and tripe and so on, but otherwise you just get liver, as far as offal is concerned. He will also throw in for free all the bones, which is great for stock.

          When you place your order (a few months in advance), he will go through each part of the cow and ask you how you want it cut. Generally, I go for the largest cuts possible (or recommended) per section, on the theory that you can always cut up something smaller. If you do it this way, you'll get about 1/3 ground, 1/3 roasts, and the rest a mix of steaks, stew and other cuts, like the shank. If you're nervous about the decision-making, just go with his suggestions.

          If you do share, and you will probably want to, make sure you split with friends who are relatively laid back about things. There's no way to split everything perfectly evenly. We usually make one pile of the top-end cuts, one of the middle cuts, one of the low-end, and then start mking roughly even packages of each for each group. It's a blast, actually. I've linked to a blog entry about buying the 1/2 cow last summer (you'll have to scroll down a little).


          2 Replies
          1. re: curiousbaker

            Thanks so much for the info! I saw on the River Rock Farm website that they are at some of the local farm markets, so I think I'll go there first. I was also thinking of splitting it up with friends, so you're experience was very helpful to me.

            Also, I loved your blog. Hope you don't mind if I follow your "eat local" experience.

            1. re: Merry

              Thanks! I've got a few weeks to go yet, but I'm getting started with gathering the local foods.I just got some Maine wheat flour in the mail a few days ago. and of course, I've got a freezer full of beef.

          2. I did this many years ago, right after I bought an 18 cu ft freezer. I can't speak to the health or quality issues, I was just trying to save money. I remember that the desireable pieces (high-end as well as our favorite pot roast meats) went a lot faster than I thought, and I ended up with a whole lot of hamburger. I've never done it since. The only thing I can say is that the Sears (Frigidaire) chest freezer is still going strong after about 25 years of service - probably one of the best investments I ever made - not for that 1/2 cow, but for all the prime cuts and large portions (a la Costco) I've bought since then. In combination with a good vacuum packing device, it's a real money saver and allows me to buy good deals in bulk when I come across them. I do remember that the white waxed paper wrap that the butcher's pieces came in was good in the freezer for a long time (a few months) but towards the end, we were losing some of the ground beef to freezer burn. For real long term storage, a vacuum pack is the best way to go.

            3 Replies
            1. re: applehome

              I've been considering on and off about buying a freezer, and if I do the cow thing I might. Right now I have an extra fridge in the basement from when we renovated the kitchen, and that has been really usefull for the extra freezer space, and a place to keep beer, wine, an extra gallon of milk and party food.

              1. re: Merry

                1/2 cow isn't going to fit in there...

                1. re: applehome

                  I am going to split it with some friends.