Best Size Freezer for a Whole Cow, Half A Cow & A Quarter Of A Cow

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If you’re thinking about buying the meat of a whole cow, half a cow or even a quarter of a cow then you’ll want to make sure you have a freezer that’s big enough to support that kind of purchase.

The best size freezer for a whole cow is 16 to 21 cubic feet. For half a cow, 8 to 11 cubic feet, and a four to six cubic feet chest for a quarter of a cow. As a rule, aim to have at least one cubic foot per 30 lb (13.60 kg) of meat. 

I’ve been purchasing half a cow for over a decade now and it’s saved me a lot of time and money when it comes to purchasing meat.

However, as with purchasing any food in bulk it’s really important you both plan and organise your freezer accordingly to ensure you maximise your purchase.

What Size Freezer For A Whole Cow, Half A Cow & A Quarter Cow

Remember when purchasing your cow, make sure you’re clear with the farmer and butcher about the animal’s weight.

The “Live weight” and “hanging weight” are two very different numbers and even “hanging weight” will differ from the pounds of meat you receive. 

On a cow, approximately half of the body weight is usable beef. Some of this is prime cuts, but most of this will be meat worthy of ground beef. The remaining portion will be organ meats.

Cow SizeMeat YieldFreezer Size
Whole Cow500lb – 700lb16 – 21 cubic foot
Half Cow250lb – 350lb8 – 11 cubic foot
Quarter Cow125lb – 175lb4 – 6 cubic foot

Is A Chest Freezer Or An Upright Freezer Better For Storing A Cow?

Having stored the meat of half a cow in both a chest freezer and an upright freezer, it’s safe to say that there are positives and negatives to each.

A chest freezer allows you to store the cow meat for longer without freezer burn and can be easier for storing larger, heavier cuts of meat. However, I’ve found that an upright freezer has better storage organisation potential.

Chest freezers generally take up more space. Most people prefer to keep their chest freezer in a garage or outer storage room.

Keeping your freezer in the garage is not recommended because it’s harder to regulate temperature. It’s better to keep your chest freezer inside if possible. 

If you use a chest freezer, you should dedicate it to one type of food, such as meats, rather than mixing meats and frozen vegetables.

Mixing meats and vegetables can lead to bacterial cross-contamination, even with frozen foods.

There are times when an upright freezer is advantageous. If you purchase smaller or pre-cut sections of beef or organ meats, an upright freezer will make it easier to find the cuts you need.

An upright freezer also takes up less space and can be easily kept indoors.

Either freezer style will work in the same way. The right choice depends on your household’s dietary habits, storage space, and organisational preference. 

How To Pack A Cow In The Freezer

When packing large sections of cow into the freezer, you’ll want to have some organisational method.

This will make it much easier to find the cuts you need for a recipe and save you a lot of time digging through the meat freezer.

Separate The Beef Cuts

When you receive your cow, the butcher may give you a separate bag of organ meats. Your first step should be to open the bag and organise the organs into freezer bags or containers.

Label The Containers

Store and label the tongue, liver, stomach, etc., in their own separate containers.

You should also label the boneless cuts to separate them from the in-bone cuts.

This will make it easier to find what you’re looking for. You don’t need T-bone steaks to make spaghetti sauce. 

Organise The Freezer

If you have an upright freezer, shelve the cuts according to their type.

If you have a chest freezer, label the meats and organise them to the best of your ability. For example, you could place ground beef and organs on one side and prime cuts on the other. 

If you don’t like to eat organ meats but don’t want them to go to waste, store them in plain sight in the freezer.

They will be less likely to rot away in the back, and you’ll have to think of ways to use them. 

Keeping your freezer organised is crucial to finding the beef cuts you need. You’ll be more likely to use all of the cow if you know what you have in stock.

How Long Does Beef Last In The Freezer?

Beef is generally safe and will last indefinitely in the freezer or deep freeze.

However, it’ll start to lose quality after about four to twelve months, depending on the cut of meat and the freezer.

Chest freezers are able to reach temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius). This is considered a “deep freeze,” which can keep meat safe to eat almost indefinitely. 

The cut of the meat may affect how long it stays fresh in the freezer. Consume ground beef within four months.

Roasts, steaks, ribs, and flanks will stay good in the freezer until up to about twelve months. 

Organ meats like kidneys and liver can become damaged and lose their texture if frozen.

It’s best to eat these as fresh as possible, but you can freeze them. Trim all of the fat from the organs, wrap them tightly, freeze them as quickly as possible, and eat within 2-3 months. 

A quarter of a cow will last an average family about six months. A larger family or group might consume a whole cow within a year.

Keep in mind, however, that your family probably won’t want beef at every meal. Purchase your meat accordingly so it won’t go bad before use. 

Is It Better To Freeze Meat Raw or Cooked?

It’s better to freeze meat raw, as this keeps it fresher for longer without sacrificing taste or nutrients.

You can freeze cooked meat to save time later, but this may sacrifice quality and lifespan. It may be wise to use a combination of both methods when you receive your cow. 

Frozen raw meat will keep for much longer in the freezer than cooked meat.

Raw ground beef will stay good for about four months in the freezer. Raw rounds, chucks, steaks, and other cuts will stay fresh for up to a year but may be safely edible for longer. 

Consume frozen cooked ground beef within two to three months.

Cooked roasts, chucks, steaks, and other cuts can also be cooked and then frozen but should also be consumed within two to three months for the best quality.