Dressed Weight – What is it?

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Dressed Weight! It’s written all over our site, but what is it?!

No, it’s not a butcher ‘scam’ and they havn’t been stealing your meat.

When you buy a side of beef, lamb, goat etc, you’re usually buying based on “Estimated dressed weight.”

Dressed weight is the ‘mass’ left on the cow after it’s been to the abattoir, and to put simply, the parts we don’t eat are removed. (Head, guts, feet etc.)

The ratio of live to dressed weight varies between breeds and feeding types, but it’s about a 50% to 60% loss.

At this stage, your ‘side’ of beef arrives at the butcher, and may hang in their coolroom for up to 2 weeks. This process is known as Dry Aging, and is an essential part of getting tender beef. Typically you’ll loose a few Kg due to evaporation during this stage.

You “Side” is still fully intact and has all the bones, fat and meat.

The next part comes down to the butcher, and your cut sheet selections. In our experiment (link in comments) we weighed a side, and then each constituent cut of meat. Our side “Dressed Weight”was about 120kg, and our overall “meat” or “boxed weight” was about 80kg + dog bones.

There are many different ways a butcher can ‘break down’ a side of beef. For example, if I asked him to remove as much fat as possible, and take out all the bones from the T-Bone, Rib Eye and Shin of the cow, I’ll be left with a lower boxed weight.

So, why do farms sell on “Dressed Weight” ?
1. It’s relatively easy and accurate to calculate “Dressed weight” from “Live Weight”
2. How you choose to have your ‘side” prepared, can have significant effects on your “Boxed weight”

Knowing your “boxed weight’ also requires the butcher to have completely finished the cut up process, which when buying Farmer to Fridge simply isn’t practical for most farms!

A good butcher will work hard to maximise how much meat you get through time and skill in their craft. Head over to Jarryd The Butcher if you’re curious.

There are some pretty accurate converters and graphs to help farmers and butchers go from a live weight, to a boxed weight, and it’s definitely something we’ll look at estimating in V2.

However, every cow is a bit different, and different breeds of cattle will have their own ‘ratio” of live to dressed, and dressed to boxed weight.

In Australia, the dressed weight is usually confirmed by the Abattoir and Butcher.

With Farmer to Fridge if your order is under the estimated dressed weight, then one of two things will happen. The farmer will issue you a dressed weight credit (either direct or through our platform).
Or in the case of larger farms with more than one side of beef to work with, balance out the overall boxed weight between orders.

Hopefully this helps clarify the difference between live, dressed and boxed weight

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