What you get charged for makes a big difference on expected price. With beef cattle you have 3 options. Live weight, carcass weight, or meat. A typical steer will yield 60-63% of his live body weight in carcass weight. So, a 1200# steer will give you up to 756# of carcass ( 378# per half/189# per quarter). Then you also turn around and carcass will yield about 50% in packaged meat.
My example will stick to simple math. A carcass weight price of $2.00 would translate into a pound of hamburger being worth $4 plus about $1 of processing. Keep in mind, that also means your roasts and steaks are at that same price. A package of porterhouse steaks at $15 is pretty good! Working backwards, that $2.00 carcass weight means you should pay about $1.25 for live weight.
There's two things with meat that make a big difference. #1 is the base meat quality. Our cattle run Prime 30% of the time. Lean meat that is well marbled is Prime. Grocery stores run standard choice and some select, and that's it. Processing methods also make a difference in the end product. A custom locker will take the time to hang and age the meat whereas large distributors won't. Lockers also usually process the burger at 85-90% lean. Our local grocery store only offers 80%.
Nope. You will develop a preference if you use a number of lockers. Each will have their own methods for cutting, recipes for beef sticks, sausage, smokes and cures. Some lockers also have preferences regarding whether you call them, or they call you for processing instructions.
Once you decide to make a purchase, there will be a date booked with the locker if it's not already scheduled. We deliver the animal to the locker (not all farmers do this) and you let the locker know how to cut your meat. Want single pound packages? 1/2" or 3/4" thick steaks? Which steaks and roasts do you want? Got a dog to snack on soup bones? Want stew meat or the specialty things like tongue, heart or liver? It's all up to you! Always ask your butcher for advice if needed.