When buying beef in bulk, what’s the difference between beef front quarter vs hindquarter? In this post, let’s go over the different cuts you can get from each section.
Whether you are just beginning buying beef in bulk or you have done this for years, when you buy a quarter of beef, it’s important to know what quarter you are getting. The reason being, beef front quarter vs hindquarter provides different cuts of beef. Ask your butcher shop which quarter you will be receiving. Some processors will give you a portion of each the front and hind, you just need to ask if they will offer you a split quarter.
To simplify which quarter you will want look at it this way:
- If you prefer more ground beef and roasts, go with the front quarter
- If you prefer more steaks and more leaner roasts and leaner ground beef, go with the hind quarter
Beef Front Quarter vs Hindquarter
Let’s go over what you get from each quarter of beef. It’s important to look at this information before talking to a butcher because there are certain cuts that only come from one half of the cow. For instance, If you are getting a hindquarter and want a brisket, it can’t happen because the beef brisket is only on the front quarter side of beef. It is also important to note that you will get a slightly lower yield on the front quarter because there is more fat and bone than on the hind end.
When the cow is butchered, the butcher will take the front quarter and separate the ribs. He will count up to the 5th rib and make a cut. This cut separates the rib from the chuck. If you have a large family, I suggest getting a front quarter over a hindquarter, for the reason of getting more meat cuts that are easier to make for a bulk amount of people.
From the rib section, you can get these different beef cuts:
- rib roast
- rib steaks (bone-in)
- ribeyes (boneless)
- tomahawk steak
- short rib aka rib plate
- skirt steak
From the chuck section, you can get these different beef cuts:
- chuck roast
- arm roast
- soup bones aka cross cut shanks
And then you will also get ground beef from the front quarter cuts as well as stew meat and dog bones, if interested.
Depending on your local butcher, the size of the cow, and the size of roasts you choose, typically with a whole beef you get around 5 arm roasts and 7 chuck roasts. Depending on the thickness of the ribeye steak you choose, it can vary but it will be around 13 ribeye steaks from one cow. You can also expect approximately 3 soup bones from the front quarter. If the hanging weight of a cow is 430, you can estimate about 142 pounds of processed beef off of the front quarter. Approximately 55% will be cuts and 45% will be ground beef. All of these numbers are subject to change based on all of the previous factors mentioned. This is just to give you a rough estimate.
When the cow is butchered, the butcher will take the hind quarter of beef and start making hindquarter cuts. The hind quarter is where you get most your steaks and the meat is more lean than the front quarter. Therefore, if you are into health and fitness, I would suggest getting a custom cut of the hindquarter.
The hindquarter has three primal chunks in it, the loin, the flank, and the round. The hindquarter is where you get maximum tenderness, resulting in the more expensive retail cuts of beef.
The most popular steaks come from the loin area:
- T-bone steak
- Porterhouse steaks
- These individual steaks not only taste amazing but are a quick, easy meal. Along with the steaks you also get tenderloin the loin area, which can be cut into tenderloin steaks, roast, or medallions to use for filet mignon.
- NY strip steaks
From the sirloin section, you can get these various cuts of beef:
- sirloin steaks, sometimes called top sirloin or sirloin tip steaks
- sirloin tip roast, also known as round tip
The flank section is a lean muscular part of the cow. Here are some different cuts you can get:
- flank steaks
- london broil
- rolled flank steaks
When getting portion cuts from the flank, common uses of this are for kabob meat or stir-fry meals.
The round has the least expensive cuts of meat from the hindquarter. This lean meat is great for slow and moist cooking. Different cuts from the round section are:
- round steaks: top, eye of round, bottom, and rolled rump
- bottom round roasts
- eye of round roasts, these can be steak, cubed, or made into jerky
- london broil (real nice top round steak)
- heel of round
- stew meat
- beef tri tip- while not a typical cut, it is a great tasting steak
You can also get soup bones, ground beef, and dog bones from the hindquarter. You can also use the beef kidney as pet food. Some people eat it, however most use it for dogs.
Depending on your local butcher, the size of the cow, and the size of roasts you choose, typically with a whole beef you can expect around 8 Porterhouse steaks, 9 T-bones, 4 sirloin tips, and 3 soup bones. Plus the ground beef and stew meat. If the hanging weight is 430 pounds for a grass fed beef, you can estimate around 135 pounds of hind quarter processed meat. Around 55% will be cuts and 45% will be ground meat. This is just an idea of what is possible. Numbers change based of the main cuts, final weight of the animal, and more.
So, Beef Front Quarter vs Hindquarter, Which Will You Choose?
Now that you know what to expect from each of the quarters of beef, hopefully you can make a good choice on which side you choose. Ultimately, either one is great, especially when you compare grass-fed beef options in the grocery stores compared to buying straight off of the ranch. It will be high quality and save you so much money in the long run.
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What Size Freezer Will I Need?
When you order a quarter beef, you’ll receive approximately 80-120 pounds of 1898 Ranch beef. A general rule of thumb is that one cubic foot of freezer space holds 25 pounds of meat. Plan on buying a freezer that has 6 to 8 cubic feet of freezer space.