Hanging weight is the weight of a butchered beef carcass before it is trimmed and sliced. When beef prices are based on hanging weight, the customer pays the price quoted per pound for the number of pounds of hanging weight instead of the number of pounds they receive after processing and packaging.
Hanging weight includes bones, fat, meat and organs. Butchers trim fat and remove bones from hanging carcasses to finish steaks, roasts and other cuts of meat for a given order. The actual weight of the finished meat that customers take home is usually between 65 and 70 percent of the hanging weight of the animal. Variety meats, such as liver, tongue, heart, tripe and brains, are included in the finished weight.
Finished weights for beef vary depending on the type of animal. Choice beef yields about 70 percent of hanging weight, and very lean beef can yield up to 80 percent of hanging weight. Finished weight also varies with the type of cuts the customer chooses. Boneless cuts yield less finished weight, as does aggressive fat-trimming, and some customers decline variety meats. Hanging beef also loses some weight if it is dry-aged.
The main disparity between amounts of take-home meat and hanging meat result from bones and fat. Some processors include all packaging and delivery with a hanging-weight price quote.