How Much Freezer Space Do You Need For Half A Cow

Meat can be very expensive and if you buy meat every week, it’s going to empty out your pocket real quickly as prices can go up anytime. This is why some people buy meat in bulk. If you’re wondering if you can buy half a cow for freezing, yes you can. But, you need to take your freezer space into consideration.

Storing half a cow in the freezer takes up a lot of space. You need at least 8 to 10 cubic feet of freezer space if you want to freeze half a cow’s meat. For reference, a standard refrigerator interior can provide 14 to 20 cubic feet.

You definitely can’t store the meat of half a cow in your regular freezer that comes with your fridge. In this article, we will be discussing two types of freezers you can use to store beef from half a cow. We will also be discussing how to pack and store the meat for the freezer so it can last for months still with the best quality. 

How Much Meat Do You Get From Half A Cow?

Before knowing the space you need for your meat, it is important to know how much it can weigh first.

The average weight of a mature male cow is about 1000 to 4000 lbs (450 to 1800 kg) while a mature female cow weighs about 800 to 2400 lbs (360 to 1100 kg) – and that is their live weight.

Their weight changes after harvest and the average hanging weight of mature male and female cows is about 60% of their live weight.

The amount of meat you will get from half a cow will depend on the cut that you want to purchase.

But generally, if you plan on buying half a cow, expect to get around 200 to 300 lbs of beef. Approximately 75 to 100 lbs of that meat will be ground beef and the rest will be cut into steaks, briskets, ribs, etc.

You will also be getting cuts for soup and stew, as well as some organ meat like liver.

How Much Freezer Space Do You Need For Half A Cow

If you are purchasing beef in bulk, you will need a deep freezer. In general, you’d want 1 cubic foot of freezer space for 25 to 35 lbs of meat.

For half a cow, you will need about 8 to 10 cu. ft. of freezer space. For a whole cow, you will need to double the space, so about 20 cubic feet of freezer space. While a quarter cow needs about 4 to 5 cubic feet of freezer space.

The freezer space needed will depend on the meat’s cut. If you are only having your beef grounded, it will take lesser space than when you have larger cuts of meat.

Storing Cow Meat: Upright Freezer or Chest Freezer

Both chest and upright freezers have their advantages when it comes to storing beef cuts. But, at the end of the day, it will depend on your personal preference, what kind of organizational method you prefer, and the space you have available in your home.

Upright Freezer

With upright freezers, it will be easier to see and access the different cuts of meat that you will store. It will also be easier to organize your meat if you use an upright freezer because of the shelving units.

If you do not have enough space in your home, an upright freezer takes up less space and you can put it inside your house.

But, the space of upright freezers is considerably smaller than a chest freezer, so you’ll have to really plan out how you will store your meat, especially if you are buying a half cow.

Chest Freezer

Chest freezers have a larger space capacity than upright freezers since they do not have a shelving unit. These kinds of freezers can store meat longer and you’ll have an easier time storing larger cuts of meat.

But, chest freezers take up more space and you might not have room for it inside your house. Most people who have chest freezers put them in their garages.

If you plan on using chest freezers, make sure to store one kind of food only. Do not mix fruit and vegetables with meat, even frozen, to avoid cross-contamination.

How To Store Half A Cow In The Freezer

The best way to store cow meat in the freezer is to separate them by their cut. You want to organize all the meat into the cuts so you can easily identify what you need specifically for that day.

Your local butchers generally will separate the meat cuts for you, but make sure to still ask.

Aside from separating the meat cuts, label your meat so you do not have to spend time figuring out what kind of cut you got out of the freezer. You may know your meat by heart and probably do not need a label, but if you have a lot of meat in your freezer, labels definitely help, especially if you store your meat in a chest freezer.

If you have an upright freezer, you can store one kind of cut on one shelf and another kind on a different shelf for better access.

How To Pack Cow Meat For Freezing

Meat is usually wrapped in butcher or freezer paper when you buy them in your local butcher shop. But, ask your butcher if they can vacuum seal the meat so the quality can remain the same even when in the freezer.

If they do not have a vacuum sealer, you can double-wrap your meat in plastic wrap and put it in airtight zip-loc bags to avoid freezer burn.

How Long Does Beef Last In The Freezer

As long as you wrap and store your meat properly, you can keep the meat in the freezer for up to 12 months.

According to the U.S. Department Of Agriculture (USDA), frozen beef can be kept in the freezer indefinitely but they do suggest using uncooked steaks, roasts, or chops within 4 to 12 months. While uncooked ground beef should be used within 4 months to ensure the best quality [1].

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can You Freeze Meat In Its Original Packaging?

Yes, you definitely can.

I personally keep the meat in its original packaging but that is only because I know I will cook them immediately.

If you want to freeze the meat for months, you want to re-wrap them to ensure that the quality of the meat remains the same.

If you do not want to re-wrap the meat, put the meat with its original packaging inside an airtight zip-loc bag to keep the quality.

How Long Does Half A Cow Last?

It will depend on the size of your family and how much beef your family eats. Usually, half a cow lasts about 6 to 12 months for a family of four if they do not consume beef every day.

Can You Refreeze Raw Meat?

Yes, you can refreeze raw meat after it has thawed out. But, the quality may not be the same.

USDA advises not to refreeze foods that have been left at room temperature longer than two hours or longer than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees [2].

How Many Times Can You Refreeze Raw Meat?

If possible, only refreeze raw meat once. If you keep refreezing raw meat, it can lead to freezer burn and the quality will slowly diminish over time.


You need a deep freezer if you plan on buying and freezing the meat of half a cow. For that, you need at least 8 to 10 cubic feet of freezer space.

Depending on your organizational method, you can prefer to use an upright or chest freezer for your meat. So, make sure you have the right space for your meat so it can last long while maintaining its quality.

If you have any other questions, do let us know!