So, How Many Steaks Are In a Cow?

Steak is undoubtedly one of the most popular and delicious cuts of meat out there, and enjoyed all around the world in various preparations.

a cow on a green field next to cow manure

There is hardly anything better if you ask me: a perfectly roasted, juicy steak with steamed veggies and a big baked potato.

But have you ever wondered just how many steaks can be produced from a single cow?

A cow can yield between 100 and 150 stakes, depending on the size of the cow and the cuts of meat. Cows produce a wide variety of cuts, ranging from tenderloin to sirloin steak, and each cut can significantly impact the total number of steaks produced.

A cow carcass provides an immense yield of meat, but only a relatively small percentage of that is worthy of being called steak.

This is why it is so spendy compared to other kinds of beef! Anyway, if you want to learn more about this question and others you have come to the right place.

Keep reading and I will tell you all about it below…

What Determines How Many Steaks are in a Cow?

The number of steaks in a cow is determined by things like the size and weight of the cow, the cut of meat, and the level of trimming.

The weight of a cow can vary from 500 to 1,500 pounds or even more, with the larger cows producing more meat.

The cut of meat also plays a role in determining the number of steaks, as different cuts have different sizes and shapes.

For instance, the tenderloin is a smaller and narrower cut that produces fewer steaks, while the sirloin is a larger cut that produces more steaks.

The level of trimming is also an important factor, as excess fat and bone reduce the net amount of meat.

These considerations and more are ultimately why the number of steaks in a cow can vary so widely, and also why some cuts are so expensive…

What are the Different Beef Cuts? How Many of Each are in a Cow?

There are many different beef cuts, each with their own unique characteristics and flavors and these are further broken down by subtypes, or cuts.

The following are some of the most common ones:

1. Chuck

Taken from the shoulder area of the cow and is often used for making stews, pot roasts, and ground beef.

2. Rib

Known for its marbling and juicy flavor, one of the most popular and also most versatile cuts. It can be served as a ribeye steak or prime rib roast.

3. Short Loin

A cut from the back of the cow and includes the Tenderloin and the Striploin (also called the New York Strip). Another popular and versatile primal cut; commonly used for steaks like filet mignon and T-bone.

4. Sirloin

This cut is from the rear of the cow and is less tender than the short loin. Sirloin can be cooked as a roast or sliced for steaks.

5. Brisket

From the cow’s chest. Used most typically for slow cooking like smoking or braising for barbecue.

6. Shank

This cut is from the leg of the cow. A constant choice for stew and soup meat.

7. Flank

This cut is from the lower belly area of the cow and is known for its normally tough texture. It is often used for fajitas, stir-fries, and London broil.

The number of each of these cuts of meat again varies depending on the size of the cow and the specific cutting techniques used by the butcher.

Broadly, the breakdown in terms of carcass yield is about 30% chuck, 12% rib, 9% short loin, 7% sirloin, 8% brisket, 12% shank and 6% flank.

The remaining percentage is made up of other cuts and trimmings, and some cuts may be divided into sub-primal cuts, which can further impact the overall percentages.

How Much of the Yield of a Cow is Fat versus Meat?

In general, a cow can yield around 40-60% lean meat and 30-40% fat. This includes both internal and external fat, which can vary widely depending on the cutting techniques used by the butcher.

Additionally, the amount of fat can vary within a single cut of meat, as “marbling” or intramuscular fat.

Marbling is not waste, as it is often considered desirable for adding flavor and tenderness to the meat.

Additionally, the exact ratios of fat versus meat will vary, too, with the specific practices of the butcher or the preferences of the consumer.

How Can You Maximize Yield and Minimize Waste from a Cow Carcass?

Maximizing the yield from a cow’s carcass is always important, ethically and practically.

Especially for homesteaders who might slaughter cows for sustenance or for profit and who cannot benefit from the “economy of scale” that larger farms have, best practices are crucial.

Consider the following factors if you want to maximize the meat you get while minimizing waste:

Cattle Breed

Different breeds of cattle have varying yields and qualities of meat. Certain breeds are bred specifically for meat production and may yield higher amounts of meat, while others may be better suited for dairy production. Generally bigger breeds yield more meat across all factors.


The age of the cow at the time of slaughter can also impact the yield and quality of meat. Generally, younger cows will produce tenderer and higher-quality meat suitable for consumption or sale, while older cows may have tougher and less desirable meat.


Bulls and steers typically have more muscle and less fat, while cows may have more fat content. This directly affects yield ratios.


Proper nutrition is essential for producing as much high-quality meat as possible. Sure, you can bulk-feed your cows to get them to pack on weight, but is that going to produce quality cuts? Not likely.

Cows should be given a well-balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and feeding should be optimized for growth.

Slaughter method

Slaughtering can also impact the yield and quality of meat. Proper handling and humane slaughter will reduce waste and loss by preventing the tainting of meat.

Carcass utilization

When it comes to maximizing yield and minimizing waste, nothing beats a skilled butcher. Sloppy work leads to lots of loss and subpar cuts. Skillful processing maximizes returns.

How Much Freezer Space Do You Need to Store a Whole Processed Cow?

Storing a whole processed cow frozen will require a significant amount of space, and a huge freezer or multiple smaller ones!

As a general rule, a whole cow can yield between 400-600 pounds of meat, depending on its size and condition.

This would require a freezer space of at least 48 to 56 cubic feet (for a whole cow), and that isn’t accounting for packaging.

However, if the cow is kept in larger bulk cuts the amount of freezer space required may decrease since packaging will take up less space overall.

Leave a Comment