How much meat should I expect back?

Unfortunately, there isn't an exact answer to this question.  Here are some factors:

- Each animal has a different body composition. Some have more muscle, fat, or bone than the others. This can be due to factors of genetics/breed, age, and finish of the animal. 

- Cutting instructions vary. Boneless cuts will result in less final lbs of meat. Bone in cuts will result in higher yields. 

Significant weight loss during the slaughter and fabrication of meat from live animals to packaged cuts should be expected.

Slaughter

Slaughtering removes blood, hide, and inedible parts (head, feet, etc)  from the animal. 

After slaughter, the carcass will weigh considerably less than before.  The percentage remaining can be estimated:

Beef        58% - 64%
Pork        70% - 73%

*Mature Cows can be much closer to 50%

Example: Your steer is 1200 lbs live weight. You can expect a carcass weight of 696 - 768 lbs.

Fabrication

Fabricating is cutting the carcass meat into final cuts. Processing accounts for another loss in weight as excess fat and bones are trimmed away. The more fat and bones removed, the greater the decrease in final packaged pounds of meat. The fatter the carcass or the larger the bones, the lower the final weight of the table-ready cuts will be once trimmed and deboned. 

Meat cutters may have to trim further for reasons of abscess, bruising, contamination, etc. This could also impact your yield.

After fabrication, your table ready meat will weigh significantly less than the carcass did before processing.

 

The percentages of closely trimmed, mostly boneless cuts remaining from dressed weight can be estimated:

Beef 50% - 65%
Pork 60% - 75%

Example: if your beef carcass weights 700 lbs., expect approximately 350-455 lbs. of closely trimmed, mostly boneless eating meat after processing.  This is 50% - 65% of the dressed weight.