How tO Butcher a Cow Sustainably

Episode 4: Check out the Lady Jaye Meat Dudes Podcast to learn about the whole cow butchering method and how to utilize the entire cow. 



Whole Cow Butchering Method

The topic of utilizing the entire animal not only benefits farmers and processors economically but also has environmental, cultural, and nutritional significance.


Economic benefits: Utilizing the entire cow can provide economic benefits for farmers and processors. (Supporting local!) By using all parts of the cow, they can sell more products and increase their revenue. For example, instead of throwing away the cow’s bones, they can be used to make bone broth or gelatin, which can be sold as additional products.


Environmental benefits: Utilizing the entire cow can also have environmental benefits. By reducing waste, it can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve natural resources. It also promotes sustainable practices by utilizing all parts of the animal and reducing the need for additional resources to be used in the production of new products.


Cultural significance: Utilizing the entire cow has cultural significance in many communities, particularly in indigenous cultures. It is a way to honor and respect the animal and its life, and to use all of its parts in traditional dishes and practices.


Nutritional benefits: Utilizing the entire cow can provide a wide range of nutrients and flavors. Different parts of the cow have different nutritional profiles, and by using all parts, it can help to ensure a diverse and balanced diet. For example, organ meats such as liver and heart are high in nutrients such as iron and vitamin B12.

From Nose to tail: using whole beef

The prices of commodity beef are going up due to factors like droughts and the war in Ukraine. All of this really affects the price of feed. Therefore, utilizing the whole cow can help farmers and processors maintain their revenue despite rising prices. 

We also want YOU to benefit, so let’s break down a cow and identify some unique, less expensive cuts  that you can keep an eye out for during your next visit to the butcher shop.

The COW:

-A hanging carcass weight of 1,000 lbs

-About 660 lbs is usable beef product (excess fat, bones, silver skin, tendon)

-Ground beef comprises around 240 lbs

-The hind legs (less desirable cuts) weigh about 160 lbs: Osso buco, Top Round, Bottom Round, Shank, Sirloin Tip and Eye Round

-Next is the “Hollywood Cuts”: The Bone in Ribeye, New York and Tenderloin only weigh around 86 lbs. That’s 8.6% of the cows total weight! And they are the most desirable cuts that you see in every grocery store!


Whole Cow Butchery : Using Secondary cuts

After the Hollywood cuts of meat the farmer is left with about 175 lbs of the “secondary cuts”. These are the cuts that you need to pay attention to.

The brisket: While commonly found in BBQ shops, don’t let its ubiquity fool you. A well-prepared brisket is a thing of beauty. Slow-cooked to perfection, it is the ultimate comfort food.

The short rib plates: a cut that is perfect for braising. When cooked low and slow, the meat becomes fall-off-the-bone tender, great all year round but perfect on those gloomy and cold days.

The chuck short ribs: Another great braising cut, however, they are not always suitable for restaurants because of their varying sizes from bone to bone. But if you’re cooking at home, chuck short ribs are a delicious and affordable option.

The teres major: If you love a meaty and mineral flavor, this is a great cut for you. It’s taken from the shoulder and is often overlooked, but its taste is truly impressive.

The chuck roll: which includes cuts like chuck eye, delmonico, and zabuton. These cuts come from the shoulder but are full of flavor and perfect for a hearty steak dinner.

Skirt, Bavette, and Flank: If you’re looking for something a little lighter, try some thin meats like skirt, bavette, and flank. These cuts are ideal for marinating and grilling, resulting in a tender and flavorful dish.

The tri-tip is another cut that is gaining popularity, especially in California. It is versatile and can be grilled, smoked, or roasted. And here at LJ, we love it!

More tips on sustainable butchery from Lady Jaye Meat Dudes 

Oxtail is a great option for braising, but it has become quite expensive recently due to its newfound popularity. Nevertheless, its rich flavor and tender meat make it worth the splurge.

If you’re looking for something a little more tender, the flat iron is your go-to cut. It is the second most tender cut in the animal and can be cooked to perfection from medium-rare to medium-well.

For a taste of Brazil, try the coulotte or picanha. This cut is very popular in Brazilian steakhouses, but its fat cap can be intimidating for some. However, if you’re willing to give it a try, the reward is well worth it.

Reducing waste by honoring the whole cow

We talked about reducing waste and ensuring the whole cow is used, and one way to do this is by being conscious of what we consume and finding ways to utilize all parts of the animal. Using the entire cow supports local farmers, minimizes waste, and provides us with a varied and nutritious diet. It’s not just beneficial for farmers and processors, but also for the environment, culture, and our overall health.


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