What is the "Dressed Weight"? And why we base our pricing on it!

There are a lot of terms we use in meat processing that most people don't talk about on a regular basis. One of the most confusing you may hear is "dressed weight".


Read below to find out what a dressed weight is and why we base our pricing on it.


What is an animal's dressed weight?

Dressed Weight

The dressed weight of an animal (also known as the 'carcass weight' or 'hanging weight') refers to the weight of the animal after being harvested. For beef, the weight includes all of the carcass's bones, meat, and fat. For pigs, the weight includes of the of the carcass's bones, meat, fat, and skin.


The average dressed weights of livestock we process are:

  • Beef - 800 lbs

  • Hog - 210 lbs

Dressing Percentage

You may also hear the term "dressing percentage" when it comes to an animal's carcass. "Dressed weight" and "dressing percentage" go hand-in-hand.


The dressing percentage represents the meat and skeletal portion of an animal compared to its live weight. It is important for a farmer to understand their dressing percentage, as they aim to have quality livestock processed.


To determine the dressing percentage, you use the following formula:

(Dressed Weight / Live Weight) x 100 = Dressing Percentage


For example, a beef delivered to Hansen's weighs 1,300 lbs live. After being harvested, the hide, head, feet, and insides (intestines, etc) are removed. The warm carcass then weighs 785 lbs. The dressing percentage would be calculated as: (785/1300)x100 = 60.4%


The average dressing percentage of livestock we process are:

  • Beef - 58%-62%

  • Hog - 70%

4 Reasons We Price our Custom Processing on the Dressed Weight

1. It is a more "true" weight than the live weight.

The live weight of livestock can be skewed by how much the hide weighs and how much the animal ate and drank. Once we remove these items, we get a more "true" weight of the meat and product of the carcass.


2. We have the ability to effectively determine the dressed weight.

When livestock are sold at market, they are sold on the live weight because the farmers and businesses buying the livestock will not know the dressed weight until the animal is harvested.


3. It encourages us to purchase high-yielding livestock.

We aim for beef that dress 60% and pigs that dress 70% because we want to provide you high-quality meat from a high-quality carcass.


4. You have a better idea of the net weight you will take home.

When we harvest and process an animal, we are concerned about 3 different weights - the live weight, dressed weight, and net weight. Each weight will be less than the weight before.


For a beef, we assume the dressed weight will be 60% of the live weight, and the net weight will be 60% of the dressed weight. For a pig, we assume the dressed weight will be 70% of the live weight, and the net weight will be 70% of the dressed weight.


However, neither of those instances are guaranteed. By charging on the dressed weight, we are one step closer to the net weight, or the final weight of product you are taking home.


Ready to purchase a custom processed beef or pork?

Check out additional information about custom processed beef by clicking here and about custom processed pork by clicking here.


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Harry Hansen Meat Service

10407 Hwy K

Franksville, WI 53126

(262) 835 - 9510

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