How to Buy a Meat Share

How to Buy a Meat Share

If you’ve never bought directly from a farm before, the thought of getting in on a Meat Share might be daunting. We hope our step-by-step guide on How to Buy a Meat Share will help ease you into this very practical and beneficial way of sourcing meat!

In case you’re not sure exactly what a Meat Share is, check out our previous guide –
“Why Should I Buy a Meat Share? – What it is and Why it Matters”

1. Find a Farm

There are a variety of search tools out there to help you find local farms that grow the food how it aligns with your values.

Tools you can use: Google, Your State’s Department of Agriculture Website, Eat Wild Directory, Local Farmers Markets, Facebook Groups like “Shop Colorado Farms”

Pro Tip: Ask if you can visit the farm to better understand how animals are raised. The best farms are open & transparent.

Questions you can ask: What do you feed your cow/hog/sheep/goat/etc.? How often are they on pasture? Which processor/butcher do you use? How much do you expect the animal to weigh?

2. Understand Animal Weight

Animals lose weight as they go through the butchering process. It’s often helpful to understand these key terms:

Live weight: The animal’s weight “on the hoof”, alive & breathing. The processor will measure live weight when the farmer drops off the animal.

Hanging weight: The carcass’ weight after initial processing, with hide, head and organs removed. Usually about 60% of live weight, also measured by processor.

Cut weight: The actual weight of the meat after it’s been cut and packaged. Usually about 60% of hanging weight.

3. Do the Math

Ask how much weight the farm is expecting their animal to weigh. If they only have live or hanging weight estimates, do the math to see how many lbs of butchered meat you can expect to receive.

Live Weight x 0.36 (60% of 60%)
Hanging Weight x 0.60 (60%)

See if their price per pound lines up with your expectations. Remember, this Is an estimate!

4. Know Who to Pay

In a meat share, you are essentially paying the farmer for a portion of the animal “on the hoof” while it’s alive.
Make sure you understand ahead of time who you are paying and for what.

Some farms will ask to be paid for the share of the live animal directly, then ask you to work out the cost & details of the butchering with the processor.

Other farms may take the full payment for animal & butchering and deal with the processor for you.

5. Fill Out Your Cut Sheet

The Cut Sheet lets the processor / butcher know how you want your meat cut.

Here you can choose the preference & size of your steaks, chops, roasts etc. Many processors will also offer curing meats like bacon & ham, and grinding sausage or making links at an additional cost.

5. Prepare Your Freezer

Expect to need 1 cubic foot of space for every
35-40 lbs of cut and wrapped meat. Use your calculations above to see how much freezer space you will need. Remember to yourself a little buffer in case your meat share exceeds weight expectations!

How much freezer space do I need?

Here are some general guidelines on freezer space:

Whole Cow – 20 cu. ft
Half Cow – 8-10 cu. ft
Quarter Cow – 5-7 cu. ft
Whole Hog – 5-7 cu. ft
Half Hog – 3-5 cu. ft
Whole Lamb – 3-5 cu. ft

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