Sharing a cow? Save big by ‘splitting a cow’

People using alternative methods to buy meat due to rising beef costs, supply chain problems

How price and quality compare to the grocery store

In case you haven’t noticed the price of serving your family beef has gone way up. Beef prices are up more than 20%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Have you ever thought of buying your own cow?

We are looking into ways your family can save money and get more selection of meat products for your home.

“Splitting a cow” is not just for people who raise cattle

It’s nine o’clock in the morning on Ray Law’s 600-acre cattle ranch near Crosby, where Ray and his wife Amy are raising over 120 cows. Law’s beef business is revving up into high gear.

He believes sky-high beef prices at the grocery store are what’s driving his business.

Beef prices are up 20% along with just about everything else in the grocery store. Using alternative methods to buy your beef may help save you money. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

On his website, Law sells grass-fed, hormone-free, beef from cows that roam free on his ranch.

“We sell it either in quarters, you can buy a half, or you can buy a whole cow, the price doesn’t really change a whole lot,” said Law.

If you buy half a cow, the take-home weight, after the cow’s been butchered, is typically 210 to 230 pounds. And within that, you’ll be getting steaks, roasts, brisket, ground beef and more.

Ray Law with Law Ranch Cattle Company says his business is booming right now. He thinks rising beef prices has people looking for alternatives. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“On average, you’ll have about 20% prime cuts, ribeye, T-bone, sirloin. About 40% roast, brisket, skirt and flank, those types of cuts, and about 40% hamburger,” said Law.

“Splitting a cow” for better quality beef

Twenty miles away in Kingwood, Heather Franklin doesn’t know jack about cows or ranchers or sides of beef, but five years ago she saw beef prices at the store going higher and higher and she wanted better quality beef. So, with her husband and four children to feed, she decided to buy a side of beef or “half a cow”.

The Franklin family in Kingwood, Texas has "split a cow" several times over the last 10 years. It's a way to save money on quality beef and also know exactly where it comes from. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

We asked her: Once the cow had been butchered and cut what did you wind up paying per pound?

“We ended up paying about $5.20 a pound when we were all finished,” said Franklin.

More than saving money, Franklin was impressed with the quality.

“It was fantastic meat, too. So, not just the price but the quality of the meat, the flavor of the meat,” said Franklin.

Once you’ve ordered your cow or half a cow, it won’t come to you whole and hanging in a freezer. Ray sends your beef to Terry Jackson’s Deer and Meat where it’s custom cut, vacuum sealed, flash frozen and boxed up at no extra cost.

So how much beef do you actually get?

Amy Law tells us you can expect to pay between $1,400 and $1,700 dollars for half a cow or side of beef and for that you will wind up with 200 to 250 pounds of beef after that beef has been trimmed and cut and packaged.

Rising beef prices has families looking for other ways to buy beef. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Dennis Cedillo is an accountant from Channelview who’s been buying sides of beef for his family for more than 10 years now. He figures he’s saving $1500 to $2,000 a year.

“The money you save is just phenomenal, it really is and it’s an easy thing to do,” said Cedillo.

Law has this advice if you’re thinking about buying beef in a big way!

“Don’t worry if you’ve never dealt with buying a side of beef before,” Law said. “Like anything, you can’t be afraid to make mistakes, or you’ll never get anywhere in life.”

If you are buying a side of beef, you are going to need a freezer big enough to hold all of that meat. The Laws recommend you buy a 12 cubic foot chest freezer, or a 21 cubic foot upright freezer. They are available at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, Conns, Costco and many more.

Also, consider what could happen if you were to lose power during storms. Be sure to have a backup plan or you could be out a lot of beef and money.

Farms that sell beef to the public

We wanted to include other farms in our area where they sell cattle to the public. We found a few cattle farmers set up booths at local farmer’s markets in town - so check your area to see if that is an option:

Also mentioned in the story: Terry Jackson’s Deer and Meat

About the Authors:

Emmy-winning investigative reporter, insanely competitive tennis player, skier, weightlifter, crazy rock & roll drummer (John Bonham is my hero). Husband to Veronica and loving cat father to Bella and Meemo.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.