If you are new to slaughtering and butchering beef cattle, you likely have many questions.
There are quite a few steps involved in this process to ensure the meat comes out well.
One of these very important steps is knowing how long you have to hang a cow after butchering.
The minimum hang time for a cow after butchering is 10-14 days, but many will do this for 21 days or longer. The purpose of hanging a butchered cow is to let the meat tenderize. If the meat is very stiff, hanging longer will help with this. Aging beef for long periods may result in more waste meat.
Butchering and slaughtering a beef animal for edible meat takes a bit of expertise and experience.
Hanging is an important step so let’s dive into how long to hang cows after butchering.
Why Is Hanging Butchered Cows Important?
Hanging a cow is important for producing quality quantities of meat, including flank steaks, ground beef, stew meat, and rump roast.
Without hanging the beef carcass, you will experience poor bleeding and rigor mortis.
Inadequate hanging time will result in poor quality meat and even dangerous bacterial growth.
The ideal hanging time is between 2-3 weeks when processing beef animals for meat.
This allows time for proper bleeding and lets the beef dry.
It also helps facilitate gutting and skinning the animal with careful preparations.
Related Reading: Is cow skin edible?
Once the body cavity is gutted and skinned with a skinning knife, you’ll be ready to make the cuts on the hind shanks, hind legs, and whatever else you want to process at the slaughter facility.
Hanging time also allows the meat to cool before cutting to make the process easier.
Depending on the toughness of the meat, you may need additional hanging time.
While most people hang the meat for 2-3 weeks, it helps tenderize especially tough meat if you leave it hanging for 3-4 weeks.
This aging process helps make delicious and tender meat. If the animal has a lot of fat covering, it may need additional hanging time.
This allows time for the belly fat and other body fat to break down.
How Do You Bleed A Butchered Cow?
Bleeding a butchered cow takes a bit of skill and expertise.
You’ll want to start the bleeding process immediately and not wait hours after slaughter or a couple of days.
To bleed a cow, you’ll want to take a very sharp knife and cut the animal through the hide in the middle of the dewlap directly in front of the breast bone.
From here, you will take the sharp knife and continue the cut toward the animal’s rump.
This will sever the arteries and facilitate bleeding.
Another way to facilitate the bleeding is by pumping the hind legs to encourage the blood to flow.
Hanging the beef cattle helps make the bleeding process easier as well.
Using a hydraulic lift is very helpful for getting large beef cattle hung.
How Much Space Do You Need To Hang A Cow?
When you process a cow, it is easy to get excited about the ground beef patties, boneless rib steaks, blood sausage, and every other delicious piece of meat.
However, it is important to make sure you have an adequate supply of space and supplies.
This goes for space for hanging and space to store frozen meat to keep it away from the danger of spoiling and going rotten.
You do not need a lot of space to hang a cow.
You just need enough to hang the cow without touching the floor and provide enough space to gut, skin, and cut the animal.
What Is The Purpose Of Aging Beef?
It is important to age beef before you process the cow into your desired cuts.
Typically, aging the beef should be done for a few days, but this varies based on the temperature of the carcass as well as the body and belly fat.
Your personal preference for taste and tenderness will also play a role in aging time.
Aging beef will tenderize the meat and allow muscle fibers and fat to break down successfully.
Tough meat often doesn’t have a great texture and lacks tenderness.
It also often requires more prep time and additional cooking time, which is not appealing to many people.
Some people prefer the taste of aged beef, which has become quite popular for gourmet meals and cuisine.
The additional time needed to age beef successfully is unrealistic for some ranchers looking for a fast turnaround.
How Much Meat Do You Get From A Cow?
How much meat you get from a cow depends on the size of the cow, as you may imagine.
One way to determine this is by the cow’s live weight versus the hanging weight.
Live weight is how much your cow weighs before you bleed and slaughter it.
The hanging weight refers to the weight after it has been bled and hung but before it has been aged and cut.
The other weight calculation to consider is the processed weight.
This is the actual amount of meat you get from a cow.
The processed weight refers to the weight of all the meat once it has been aged and cut.
This is significantly less than the live or hanging weight.
Knowing how much meat you will get from a cow is extremely helpful.
Let’s use the example of a 1000-pound beef animal to give you an idea of how much meat you will get.
The hanging weight of this animal will be around 600 lbs.
The processed weight of this animal will be around 400 lbs.
This weight will be in whatever cuts you like from both the sides and the quarter.
Whether you choose to do steaks, rump roasts, ground beef, or beef ribs, you will get a nice bit of meat per 1000 lb cow.
This is a good amount of meat per animal and will help feed your family or make money through selling.