According to Ken Olson, a range beef calf/cow specialist at the South Dakota State University, the size of cow matters. The present age’s fed cattle (heifers and steers) are, as compared to 1990, larger at slaughter. On the feed, they spend eight more days. They gain weight 16% faster and they are more efficient. Though the weight gaining process is faster in livestock than it was twenty years back, the fat marbling and other characteristics are still the same.
The yield of edible meat from a beef carcass often comes as a bit of a surprise, even to those that have had their own meat processed for years. A previous article covered dressing percent—the percent of the live animal weight that becomes carcass weight, which for fed beef is usually around 62-64%. In other words, from a 1200 pound steer, you can expect a 740 – 770 pound carcass. But from that carcass there is another significant portion that will not end up in your freezer or in the meat case for consumers. The expected yield of retail cuts from beef carcasses ranges from approximately 55% to 75%, depending on the fatness and muscling of the animal, and the type of cuts produced. A typical 750 carcass with ½ inch of fat over the rib eye and average muscling of a 12-13 square inch rib eye will yield about 65% of the carcass weight as retail cuts (roasts and steaks) and lean trim.
The average size of a cow (in all breeds) was around 1,390 lbs. And if we further separate heaviest and lightest breeds then Herefords take the first place as it is the heaviest i.e. 1,419 lbs., Angus comes at second at 1,410 lbs. After these two comes Red Angus which weighed around 1,409 lbs. In between, were the three lightest breeds that are Limousin (1,391 lbs.), Gelbvieh (1,323 lbs.), Charolais (1,371 lbs.), and Simmental cows (1,404 lb)
How Much Does A Cow Weigh?
Beef cattle (raised for meat production primarily) and dairy cattle (raised for milk primarily) typically weigh differently, but even among the beef or dairy breeds, we have huge differences.
I’ve used data from research and calculations on The Pennsylvania State University, North Dakota State University, and Wikipedia itself to get the most accurate and recent data about cow weights (by age and by gender).
I’ve used this data to put together tables of weights for heifers (female calves) by month, and some data on the major breeds in the US and their average weights.
Herders always weigh a cow at weaning, which is the time when a calf is separated from the mother. Ideally, this is at 7-8 months old. Cows continue gaining weight until they reach 7 years of age, then they slowly lose weight until they leave the herd.
Factors That Impact A Cow’s Weight
As mentioned above, many factors impact a cow’s weight. The most obvious include breed, gender, and age. Beyond that, food sources and individual genetics impact the weight too, which explains why cows of the same age and herd can have wildly different weights.
The most important factors to consider when looking at a cow’s weight include:
- Food sources and nutrition
- Individual traits
How Much Does A Beef Cow Weigh?
A typical beef cow such as Angus weighs around 1210 lbs (550kb) for a mature female, and around 1870 lbs (850 kg) for bulls (on average). For a typical herd, this is not a very useful answer because the herd may consist of a variety of cows by age and breed.
Cow weight will greatly vary based on many factors.
Angus beef cow will be about 450-550 pounds when 6 months old, while a mature heifer could weigh anywhere between 800 and 1400 pounds. Heifer growth is usually compared to breed standards to determine normal progress.
Here is a list of the average weight of beef cows by breed (female):
- Angus – 1,210 pounds (550 kg)
- Hereford – 1,200 pounds (544 kg)
- Limousin – 1,650 pounds (750 kg)
- Brahman – 1,320 pounds (600 kg)
- Simmental – 1,300 pounds (590 kg)
- Shorthorn – 1,760 pounds (800 kg)
How Much Does A Dairy Cow Weigh?
Depending on the breed, a full mature Holstein dairy cow weighs around 1,500 lbs (700 kg) on average, a mature Ayrshire weighs around 990 to 1,320 lbs, while the Jersey breed (being among the smallest of the dairy breeds) weighs around 900 lbs (410kg) on average.
These are all (naturally) female cow weight examples, while the males usually weigh more.
Here is a list of the average weights of dairy cows by breed – female:
- Holstein-Friesian – 1,600 pounds (725 kg)
- Ayrshire – 1,150 pounds (522 kg)
- Jersey – 900 pounds (408 kg)
- Brown Swiss – 1,350 pounds (612 kg)
- Guernsey – 1,050 pounds (476 kg)
- Dairy Shorthorn – 1,450 pounds (658 kg)
How Much Does A Calf Weigh?
A calf is a young domestic cattle, and its weight quickly grows every month. The calf at birth will weigh about 82 pounds. A commercial steer (bull calf) is expected to put on about 71 to 79 lbs (32-36kg) per month, while a heifer puts on less, depending on the breed.
I’ve looked more closely into dairy cow heifer weights by age, and got the data from PennState Uni on heifer growth and the average and recommended weights of the most popular dairy cow breeds in the US.
How Much Does A Cow Weigh When Butchered?
For commercial productions, cows weigh usually 900 to 1,350 pounds at slaughter. The average cattle weight at slaughter will depend on customer demands, which determine the age range and weight of cattle.
How Much Meat Do You Get From A Cow?
According to South Dakota State University Extension, the expected yield for retail cuts from beef carcasses ranges from 55% to 75%, depending on the fatness, muscling of the animal, and the type of cuts you produce. The carcass weight is usually between 600 and 900 pounds.
Steaks usually come from a steer (castrated male) or a heifer (female that hasn’t been bred), while meat from cows is usually ground up into processed meats.
How Many Steaks In A Cow?
Once again, for those unfamiliar, steaks generally come from steer (male cows) while the meat from female cows is generally ground up and considered lower grade.