Beef Front Quarter

Have you ever wondered whether a front quarter or hind quarter of beef is a better fit for your family? Or why the front quarter of beef has a substantially different price from the rear quarter of beef? Today’s newsletter details the front, or rib, “primal” section of a cow. The photo immediately below is a bone-in prime rib roast.

The front quarter is not the best choice for everybody. The hindquarter is where the Porterhouse, T-bone, tenderloin, sirloin, London Broil, and round steaks come from – we’ll hit that one a different time, but suffice to say if you love steaks, you want the hindquarter shares. If you want an assortment of cuts, you're better off getting a half, a split quarter, or our popular "1/8th regular share". Here I'm not trying to sell you on a front quarter, I'm just letting you know what's in one!

What cuts come from the front quarter of a cow?

There are four main "primal sections" in the front quarter of a cow: the rib primal, the plate primal, the brisket, and the chuck. We'll go over each one separately.

The Rib Primal Section

Let’s start with the ribs. Did you know? Cattle have 13 pairs of ribs. Humans have 12 pairs of ribs. Sheep have 12 to 14 pairs of ribs. Pigs have 14 to 16 pairs of ribs.

The rib section can be cut a number of different ways to yield various cuts. One of the most coveted cuts of beef comes from the front: the cherished ribeye, shown immediately below. (Compare this photo to the prime rib roast above, and you can see that it's the same section.).

I love this explanation of the rib section.

You have this muscle too: it’s the long vertical muscle that runs parallel to your spine on either side. This is a very tender cut that is usually well-marbled. When it’s boneless, it’s a ribeye or Delmonico steak. It can also be cut as a bone-in rib steak, with the rib cap muscle and the bone left in. Many people feel that this small rib cap muscle, although just a tony bits on each steak, is the single most delicious bite of beef on the entire cow. And of course cooking steaks bone-in gives them more flavor. The rib section can be cut as a roast instead: either a standing rib roast, a cross-cut rib roast, or a prime rib roast. Each front quarter has about 15-20 pounds of premium rib meat in it which can be cut as rib steaks or rib roasts. Ribs can be frenched, made into a standing rib roast, or flanken ribs, short ribs, spare ribs, prime rib roast, bone-in rib steak with cap, or boneless ribeye (Delmonico) steaks. Getting a custom front quarter allows you to choose exactly how you want it processed.

The Chuck Primal Section

This is the shoulder, and typically yields about 40 pounds of meat. These are often cut as potroasts, or may be called chuck roast, underblade steaks, mock tender roast, mock tender steaks, top blade steaks, or shoulder center cut roasts or steaks. You can have it made to roasts, steaks, stew meat, or ground meat.

The Brisket Primal Section

The brisket is the loose muscle flap under the neck, sort of the décolletage of the cow, and consists of the pectoral muscles. These muscles work hard, and are fairly tough, so slow-cooking and slow-smoking recipes are best. Brisket is often cured and smoked, and can be made into corned beef. You can have it made to roasts, stew meat, or ground meat.

The Plate Primal Section

This is the belly, and is typically fatty and tough. It can be cured and smoked as beef bacon, or made to skirt steak or fajita strips. It’s also a good choice for ground beef and stew cubes.


(1) Custom front quarter.

When you get a custom front quarter, you get to specify all the cutting: Steak thickness, how many steaks per package, whether steaks are boneless or bone-in, how closely they’re trimmed; roast sizes and trimming; stew cube size and package size; ground beef fat percentage and package size. You can also request bones, tallow, and organ meats. This share is $4.85/lb hanging weight price. In total it will run about $800 and require five cubic feet of freezer space (two big blue Ikea bags).

(2) 1/8th Front/Burger Share

Our “1/8th burger share” keeps the rib steaks, and all the rest is made into 10% fat/90% lean ground beef in 1.5-pound packages. This is our least expensive package at $4.85/lb hanging weight price.

(3) 1/8th Front/Roasts and Braises Share

Our “1/8th front roasts and braises” share is $5.25/lb hanging weight and includes prime rib roast, pot roast, flanken ribs, cross-cut shanks, stew cubes, and a small amount of ground meat.

So What Is "Hanging Weight”?

Hanging weight means the weight of the front quarter when the quarter is hanging in one piece on a hook. On average, a quarter beef weighs 185 pounds, and a front quarter will cost about $900. Beef generally yields about 66%, which means that when it’s been trimmed nicely and all the gristle and gross parts are discarded, you’ll end up with about 66% finished meat, or 185 X 0.66 = about 120 pounds of finished meat, not counting soup bones, tallow, and organ meats. You can halve these numbers for our 1/8th shares. A quarter will require about five cubic feet of freezer space to store; 1/8th about 2.5 cubic feet. Beef keeps well in the freezer for two or more years. We are legally required to charge by the hanging weight and not by the finished weight.

The Kookoolan Farms Guarantee

Kookoolan Farms has been offering 100% grassfed beef for more than ten years – this has become our biggest-selling product. We have sold thousands of fractional “shares” of beef over the past ten years.

We are the only farm we’ve ever heard of that offers our famous money-back guarantee: you will love your meat from Kookoolan Farms or we will buy it back and eat it ourselves!

At Kookoolan Farms, “100% grassfed means that our cows eat, well, grass. Grain is not a substantial part of our cattle’s diet: we just use it as a training aid to be able to safely manage moving the herd around. Our cattle’s diet is based on fresh grass and clover pasure, grass hay, clover hay, alfalfa hay, haylage and sileage (these last two are essentially cow sauerkraut: fermented green hay).

Our live animals are never trucked to slaughter: we use a licensed mobile slaughtering service to cleanly and humanely slaughter our animals at their home farm for minimal handling stress. Beef is dry-aged 14 days before cutting, is not treated with any chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics at any point in the husbandry or processing, and is double-wrapped in butcher paper that protects your beef for at least two years in your freezer.

We get it that not everyone has a large freezer or a large budget: We are one of very few farms that offer not only whole, half, and quarter beef, but also several options for 1/8th or 1/16th beef for even the smallest household freezer! We believe grassfed beef should be available to everyone -- not just to families with large budgets, large freezers, and a lot of space!

These prices and shares are current as of 2017.

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