Processing Options For Market Animals

Richland County Fair

Fair time is here! If you plan to support the 4-H youth at the market livestock sale, you may have to make some decisions when you get that animal processed. You will be given a cut sheet on how you would like the carcass broken down. The first division of the whole carcass is the primal cuts. From there, the primal cuts can be further broken down to your specifications. There are some options, and hopefully the following will help you in this process.

Primal cuts of beef include the chuck, rib, short loin, sirloin, round, flank, short plate, and brisket. The chuck can be further processed into bone-in or boneless roasts or steaks. Cuts that can come from the chuck include flat iron steaks, petite tender steaks, stew meat, as well as ground beef. In terms of the rib, it is typically cut into bone-in or boneless ribeye steaks, back ribs, or boneless or bone-in roasts. The short loin can be cut into T-bones or porterhouse steaks, or it can be cut into boneless New York strips and tenderloin steaks. The sirloin can be cut into bone-in or bone-less steaks, and the sirloin cap and tri-tip roasts are also options from the sirloin. Roasts of your specified size and weight can be cut from the round, or the round can be cut into steaks that are tenderized for chicken fried steak. In terms of ground beef, you can specify the leanness with common leanness being 90%, 80%, and 70%.

A pig’s primal cuts include the picnic shoulder, Boston butt, spareribs/belly, leg, and the loin. The picnic shoulder can be divided into bone-in or boneless roasts, as well as some ground product. The Boston butt can be further cut into bone-in or boneless blade steaks. If you prefer pulled pork, you may choose to keep the Boston butt as either bone-in or boneless roasts. The belly will most likely be cured, smoked, and sliced into bacon and a set of spareribs will come from each half of the carcass. The pork leg can be made into bone-in or boneless hams which can be kept fresh or cured and smoked. The loin has options of bone-in chops or a tenderloin roast and boneless top loin chops. Other cuts available from the loin include sirloin chops, sirloin roasts, country style ribs, blade chops, and back ribs. Ground pork can be made from any part of the carcass.

The main primal cuts from lamb are the shoulder, rack, loin, and leg. There are two main options for the shoulder are arm and blade chops or boneless shoulder roasts. These can be of desired thickness and weights. This primal cut can also be used for ground lamb, depending on the customer’s preference. The rack is normally cut into bone-in rib chops of desired thickness, but the rack can also be cut into two bone-in rib roasts. The loin tends to be cut into bone-in loin chops or cut into two bone-in loin roasts. The leg can have sirloin chops or bone-in leg roasts. The lower shank can also be removed to make leg shank roasts. You can also have center-sliced leg steaks made from the leg. Another option is to keep the leg whole for roasting. Overall, lamb carcasses produce less trim for ground production compared to beef or pork.

You also may be curious about how much meat you should expect when having an animal processed. First you must consider the dressing percentage, which is what the carcass will weigh once the hide, head, and organs are removed. Then you must consider the loss due to moisture, trimming extra fat, and removing the bones, which is typically a 30-35% loss from the carcass weight. For a beef animal that weighs 1300 lbs. with a 62% dressing percentage and a 30% processing loss, this will be approximately 564 lbs. of take-home product. For a swine that weighs 255 lbs. with a 70% dressing percentage and a 30% processing loss, there will approximately be 124 lbs. of take-home product. For a lamb that weighs 130 lbs. with a 56% dressing percentage and a 30% processing loss, there will be approximately 51 lbs. of take-home products. It is important to remember that these percentages are averages and each individual animal will vary.

If you have further questions about processing an animal, you should contact your local processor and discuss the options that they have available and what they recommend. There will be some great market animals available for purchase at Richland County 4-H Livestock Sale on Friday, Aug. 5 beginning at 3 p.m. We hope to see you at the Richland County Fair!


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