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Yields and Dressing Percentages

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It is important for anyone direct marketing meat to determine how much meat a market animal provides. The pounds of meat a farmer should get from an animal will be dependent upon the dressing percentage and the carcass cutting yields. A handy formula has been developed to help:

Pounds of Meat= (Dressing percent x Carcass cutting yield) x Live weight

The dressing percentage is the percent of the live animal that ends up as carcass. Generally, the carcass weight is taken immediately after skinning and evisceration and is commonly known as the hot hanging weight. There are a number of factors that will affect the percentage including how much the animal has eaten before it is weighed, and how much mud or fiber is on the animal. These factors negatively correlate to the dressing percentage, by reducing the dressing percentage. The amount of fat and muscling will positively affect dressing percentage; the heavier or fatter an animal, the higher the dressing percentage. The dressing percentage can be calculated as such:

Dressing Percentage (DP)= (Carcass Weight / Live Weight) x 100

Different species tend to average different DP’s. Beef cattle 58-62% (heifers generally about 1% lower than steers), hogs 74% and market lambs 54%. Farmers can expect a 1000 pound steer to result in a 620 pound hanging carcass or a 140 pound market hog to produce a 103 pound carcass (140 x .74).

The carcass-cutting yield is the percentage of the carcass that actually ends up as meat. The carcass cutting yield is calculated by:

Carcass Cutting Yield = (Pounds of meat/ Carcass weight) x 100

Cutting yields can vary significantly depending on cutting specifications; cuts that are bone-in or boneless will produce very different cutting yields. If the animal is excessively fat, then the cutting yield will be lower because the fat is removed and discarded. A more muscular animal will have a higher cutting yield. Aging, leaving the carcass to hang for an extended period of time, will also impact cutting yields, as the carcass tends to shrink during the process. Cutting losses on a side of beef may range from 20% to 40%, and average around 28%.

Yield grades can help can help predict cutting yields. A yield grade measures the amount of boneless, trimmed retail cut from various parts of the carcass: the round, the loin, the rib and the chuck. The higher the yield grade, the lower the carcass cutting yield percentage. A lower yield grade indicates a higher cutting yield. To employ the help of a yield grade to determine the amount of salable meat let’s consider the following example. A yield grade 2 on a 400 pound carcass would indicate salable meat of 79.8% or 319 pounds of meat. If more cuts were left bone-in, then the actual carcass cutting yield would be higher than 79.8% and the pounds of meat would be higher than 319.

Yield Grade for Beef

Carcass cutting yield (%)


79.8 or more








65.9 or less

To help a farmer price his product, it is also important to know the average cut weights expected from breaking down a carcass. A 1000 pound steer will produce a 600 pound carcass. 400 pounds are lost in hide, blood, and inedible organs. From this 600 pound beef carcass a farmer should expect around the following: 27.5% chuck, 3.2% shank, 3.8% brisket, 9.8% ribs, 8.5% short plate, 17.7% loin, 5.3% flank, and 22.8% round. He could also expect 425 pounds in retail cuts at a yield grade 3 (70.8%). These figures provide only an approximation, and are to be used as a guide. Farmers should keep good records of dressing percentages and carcass yields to help with farm management and the decision making process.

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33 thoughts on “Yields and Dressing Percentages

  1. Pingback: You call that a steak? | MeanwhileUpOnTheFarm
  2. shania cantrell says:

    why does swine have the highest dressing persentage?

  3. says:

    The fatter the animal, generally the higher the dressing percentage, and swine tend to have high fat content compared to other animals.

  4. Jade Pope says:

    Another major factor influencing the high dressing % for pigs is the fact that they are not ruminants and therefore the gastrointestinal tract weighs less

  5. Dr Ashraf says:

    What are the yeild and dressing percentage of buffalo meat?

  6. says:

    This page created by the Dept. of Agricultural Research and Education, Gov’t of India, gives the buffalo carcass composition numbers you are looking for, Dr. Ashraf:

  7. Johnny says:

    How do I calculate rabbit live then on rail please help

  8. kerry says:

    my lambs dressed out at 80# how much would they have been a live

  9. Tara Hammonds says:

    Hi Kerry,
    Since the dressing percentage of market lambs is about 54%, if you lambs had a carcass weight of 80 lbs then alive they would have been (80/.54) = 148 lbs.

  10. Cody says:

    Could it be clarified if 74% is with hide on or off for pigs. Some pigs are scalded while others are skinned, which could make a big difference.

  11. Tara Hammonds says:

    Hi Cody,
    74% is the number generally used with hide on. Note that while the carcass cutting yield will change depending on whether or not the hide is taken into account, the pounds of meat will remain the same.

  12. ansar says:

    What is the dressing percentage of buffalo

  13. Claire Cekander says:


    For specific data on processing buffalo I recommend contacting your local state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

  14. brown says:

    What do you mean by live weight?is it the weight of the animal when is still alive???

  15. Claire Cekander says:


    Live Weight is the weight of an animal before it has been slaughtered and prepared as a carcass.

    Hope this helps,

  16. samantha mintz says:

    Which species results in the greatest percentage yield of saleable product?
    a) beef
    b) swine
    c) lamb
    d) all are relatively equal

  17. Claire Cekander says:

    Hi Samantha,

    Different species tend to average different dressing percentages. Beef cattle 58-62% (heifers generally about 1% lower than steers), hogs 74% and market lambs 54%.

  18. joy says:

    Can someone please tell me how I can use linear body measurement to determine meat yield of goats. Thks in anticipation

  19. Claire Cekander says:

    Hi Joy,

    The meat yield will depend on the sex and breed of goat but I found some equations that might help you determine meat yield from body measurements. You can find them in this article:

  20. Daniel says:

    My hanging weight was 473 pounds. The cow was cut into hamburger and tenderloin. We received approximately 151 pounds of meat. Does this seem correct?

  21. Tara Hammonds says:

    Hi Daniel,
    It depends on which cuts were used for the hamburger meat. Regarding the tenderloin, the carcass weight is approximately 17.7% loin, so you should have gotten 83.7 pounds from that. Depending on what the hamburger composition was, you should get 27.5% chuck steak and 22.8% round steak, so you would just multiply either of those by the hanging weight. The full list of percentages can be found at the bottom of this page. Hope this helps!

  22. Elliott says:

    What are the cutting yields and dressing percentages for poultry/broilers? Any reference for this number? This was omitted in the post. Thank you

  23. Tara Hammonds says:

    Hi Elliot,

    This site should be able to help you out – it looks like it’s got the information that you’re looking for. Good luck!

  24. Tyson says:

    Hi all,

    Is there anyway to determine (even roughly if precise is not possible) the yield grade when purchase live cattle? If yes, will live cattle price is different if YG is higher/lower?

    Any comment is appreciated.

  25. Carli Fraccarolli says:

    Hi Tyson,
    Check out this article about calculating yield grade: It seems that you can appraise live slaughter cattle for yield grade using two factors normally considered in evaluating live cattle – muscling and
    fatness. Hopefully this helps!

  26. Kyle Cowart says:

    I had a fat corn fed bull with a hanging carcass weight of 1236. The butcher only packaged 668# of meat. I think I got robbed. What is others opinion?

  27. Talia Isaacson says:

    Hi Kyle,
    The “take home” weight of a cow (its post-butcher weight) is usually around 60% of its hanging weight. There are various factors that would decrease that number, though, such as the following:
    • Bone-in vs. boneless: The more boneless cuts that are made, the lower the weight (but this will not significantly affect the actual amount of meat you receive)
    • The amount of fat remaining on the meat cuts: The yield will vary based on how much surface fat the cutter leaves on the cuts
    • Leanness of ground beef: If the ground beef is made very lean the yield will be less than if the ground is made with a higher percentage of fat
    Hope this helps!

  28. Belinda Hughes says:

    I had a cow slaughtered and wanted it turned into hamburger for donation to some local food pantries. The hanging weight was 851 lbs. and I only got a total of 350 lbs. of hamburger. Was I ripped off?

  29. klr235 says:

    Hi Belinda,
    I’m happy to hear you plan to donate some hamburger to local food pantries! I do not know the normal difference between hanging weight and pounds of meat, but I would recommend reaching out to this Cornell resource: Within that site, it appears that two relevant contacts may be:
    Matt LeRoux
    Agriculture Marketing Specialist
    Cornell Cooperative Extension – Tompkins

    Kerri Bartlett
    Dairy & Livestock Educator
    Cornell Cooperative Extension – Steuben

    Good luck!

  30. Lynne Clark says:

    RE: Pigs Does the percentage of muscle and fat change depending on what the feed is?

  31. derrick says:

    What can be the results impact of dressng percentge of pigs?

  32. Nina Sannes says:

    Hi Derrick,
    This page from South Dakota State University has more information on swine grading, check it out here:
    This infographic from Oklahoma dept. of Agriculture Food and Forestry may also be of use:
    For specific data I recommend contacting your local state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

  33. Nina Sannes says:

    Hi Lynne,
    The feed as well as activity level of the pigs influence the percentage of muscle and fat. Check out this article from the Queensland Dept. of Ag and Fisheries for more background info on diet:

    This article from SARE details a cost-benefit analysis of protein supplements in pig feed, and it may be of interest to you:

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