There’s a lot to know about buying freezer beef. We’re here to guide you through the process…

What can you expect when you buy a whole beef?

What exactly am I buying from Wholesome Beef Direct?

You are buying a live finish-weight animal (usually around 1,300 lbs) that will be ready for processing. For your convenience, we will handle all of the animal’s care and delivery to the butcher, and will coordinate pickup and delivery to you after it is processed. You will be issued a bill-of-sale once the final payment has been received.

Processing costs due to the butcher are included in the cost when you order your beef.  Exceptions may occur to this for local Montana purchases, depending on the processor being used. 

We offer delivery and limited meat storage options that we can discuss when you purchase your animal.  Delivery and storage costs are NOT included in the price of purchasing the animal. 

Any additional processing of your beef, such as curing, smoking, burger pattying, jerky, etc., will be billed in additional to your beef that comes with standard processing. 

How much beef can I expect to get off my animal?

An WBD animal that is ready for processing typically weighs approximately 1,300 pounds “on the hoof”. There is usually about 60% of the animal that is considered “waste”, like bones, hide, head, tail, hooves, organs, etc. So you’ll end up with approximately 500 pounds of frozen packaged meat. A typical breakdown of the cuts available from your animal looks something like this***:
195# Burger
85# Round Roast & Steak
90# Chuck Roast & Steak
80# Rib & Loin Steak
50# Other Cuts (brisket, flank etc.)

How much freezer space will I need?

Typically, you will need approximately 18 cubic feet of freezer space for a whole beef. Thus, a half a beef will require 9.0 cu. ft., and a quarter will need 4.5 cu. ft. The larger share of the animal you buy, the less it costs you per pound.

For a mental comparison, a whole pork usually requires about 7.0 cubic feet, and a whole lamb needs about 5.5 cubic feet of freezer space.

Cutting Instructions? What does this mean? What are my options?

Your processor will request cutting instructions once your animal is ready to cut and wrap.

We will send you an outline of what your butcher will need to know to package your beef. You may choose to give us this information in advance, or you can discuss your options directly with them when they call you. The infographic below may help you determine how you want your animal cut. Please understand that not every butcher offers every cut of every kind, depending on their equipment, etc.

Can I Give WBD Beef as a Gift?

Absolutely. We are happy to help accommodate your gifting needs.

How long does it take to get beef after I order it?

The short answer is: it depends. We have animals at varying stages of finishing here on the ranch at different times. Because beef is at its best quality at certain weights, we won’t schedule processing until we know we’ll have an animal ready. Also, most processors are booking out several months ahead. It may be several months before you can have your beef delivered to you. Sometimes, though, we might get lucky and have an unexpected opening at a butcher shop. If so, we will notify our customer base, and provide an estimated delivery window.

Typically, once a beef is delivered to the butcher it takes from 14-21 days to process the animal. Delivery arrangements will be made with you accordingly.

What is “hanging weight”?

Hanging weight is how much the carcass weighs after it’s skinned and the head and internal organs are removed. This is usually about 60-62 percent of the live weight of the animal. The carcass will hang for about two weeks before cutting and wrapping to allow excess moisture to evaporate and connective tissue to break down, making it more tender and flavorful.

Can I buy just hamburger?

Sometimes an animal that is less tender than a typical butcher animal would be better suited for hamburger only, as the steaks and roasts would be tougher than most people prefer.  If you’re interested in burger only, or would like to buy a 50 lb. box of hamburger in 1, 1.5 or 2lb packages, please contact us, or add it to your order on the order page. 

What cuts do I get when I order a quarter of a beef? *Hint: It’s a little different than for a half or whole.

Halves and quarters are sold as half or a quarter of all the meat, rather than the front quarter or back
quarter. Still, it can be difficult to customize cutting orders by the quarter, so you may have to be slightly flexible when buying only a quarter and understand you may not be able to have some of every section of the beef.

Can I get some of the organs or bones?

If you’re interested in receiving the heart, liver, tail or tongue, let us know. Or maybe you’re looking for bones as a treat for your pets.  We can arrange this with the butcher when it is delivered to them and can get you a cost. We may also have some on hand in frozen storage, but it’s best to let us know ahead of delivery to the processor.

What is the difference between grass-fed and grain- or corn-fed?

Grass-fed animals are typically fed a diet of strictly grass and hay or silage for their entire lives. Grass-fed beef is usually leaner (i.e., less marbling) but often has to be fed longer to reach finish-weight. Sometimes they are butchered at a smaller size than their grain- or corn-fed counterparts.

Grain-fed animals are usually raised on grass and hay, then fed distiller’s grains, barley, oats or wheat rations to add fat and marbling to the meat.

Corn-fed animals are fed a similar mixture that would obviously include a high percentage of corn.

The choice between grass-fed, grain-fed, or corn-fed beef is a matter of preference, availability, and price.

How are the Wholesome Beef Direct animals grown?

The animals sold through WBD are grown at Kimmel Ranch in Turner, Montana and are pasture raised on prairie rangeland, dryland forage fields and cover crop fields that include a variety of grazing plants that may include brassicas, oats, sunflowers, sorghum, millet, vetch, barley, triticale, and more.  These cattle are not kept in confinement but live out in open pastures unless the weather becomes too inclement and they are temporarily moved into areas to protect them from the often brutal Montana winters. If conditions require, sometimes cattle may be supplemented with custom feed blends to help meet nutritional requirements the animals may need, but this is not typical. 

We invite you to visit the Kimmel Ranch and see for yourself or check out the Kimmel Ranch YouTube channel to watch this in action. It’s a great thing to be a cow in Montana in the summer!

I’m not sure how to use some of these cuts. What do I do with them?

See our recipes section for a variety of ways to cook your amazing beef.

We also recommend this site for the best ways to use beef: