How Many Briskets Per Cow?


When you are used to buying the cow brisket from the butcher, the concept of butchering your cow and harvesting the steer will be confusing. The store-bought brisket is sold in one piece made of two muscles: the flat and the point. Most of the time, these muscles are separated, and you can opt for one muscle beef junk over another.

So, how many briskets per cow can you derive from one steer?

Each steers as two briskets, and you can harvest two brisket cuttings from one cow. The best brisket comes from a steer which is neutered to avoid reproduction; they remain docile, and as the lack of testosterone improves tenderness and marbling, these result in beefy cuts.

How Many Briskets Per Cow?

Bovine cows, steers, and heifers have two brisket cuts; thus, you would be careful with the cuts when slaughtering the bovine at home. The brisket is located above the forelegs; each has one brisket cut. There are two briskets on each steer carcass.

Therefore when cutting the steer into different beef cuts, you will be careful cutting off the brisket from the steer.

You might easily understand the idea of the brisket size, position, and number if you are a professional butcher. However, the idea will be confusing for shoppers who have never seen a steer carcass before, and it will be more confusing when they choose to slaughter their farm animals.

If you are used to buying sub-primal cuts from the butcher, it will be challenging to know the proper cut directly by observing the meat junk above the two forelegs. The two whole brisket cuts can yield four generous cuts divided along the natural lines.

Although you might know the brisket comes from the foreleg, you might not understand the front and rear shank difference. Although the rear shank has a beef cut similar to the brisket, the cut is round. The round might be used in similar cooking applications as the brisket, but it is not the same.

Related: Sliced vs Chopped Brisket

Brisket Basics

The brisket is a vast beef cut that can weigh about 20 pounds. You can separate one brisket along the natural line to form the two subprimal. However, you would need a lot of cooking time to grill a whole brisket, but you can reduce the cooking time by chopping the brisket into little manageable pieces.

The brisket muscles are generally tough as they are derived from the steer’s pectoral area. These muscles are key for the cow’s movement, and they support the front legs and upper body. Therefore they are made of several connective tissues and fibers which result from the prime workout during the steer’s lifetime.

Although the brisket might be tough, you can use the right techniques to bring the flavorful beef taste.

Depending on the grill temperature, you can convert the connective tissues and fibers into gelatin by cooking your brisket for two hours. The cooking duration will make the fiber relax, render the fat and leave the brisket cut juicy and tender.

The whole brisket is called the whole packer, a delicious beef cut that cooks quickly because of its small size. However, you can increase the cooking time by separating into two subprimal; the flat-end and the flat. You can easily find the flat-end in the supermarkets and the grocery store; it is the smaller sub-primal part of the brisket.

On the other hand, the flat is vaguely rectangular cut with a fat cap on one side. The fat makes the flat juicy, but you can trim it off before adding the seasoning.

The point is another end of the brisket; it is more irregular with grains that run in several directions and intramuscular fat. You can enjoy smoking the brisket point due to the intramuscular fat, which gives it a juicy texture and beefy flavor.

The point can make burnt ends which is a delicacy among BBQ lovers. If you don’t enjoy a smoked brisket point, you can shred or chop it and bake or grill it. You should cut the brisket against the grain to ensure the flat slices are easy to chew.

Related: What Part of the Cow is Brisket?

How Much Meat Will a Brisket Yield?

The total meat yield depends on the starting weight of your brisket; the raw meat might contain a high water percentage, but the cooking process will shrink the brisket. Thus, after cooking your brisket, the meat will yield about 50% of the weight of the raw brisket.

Although the whole packer might weigh 20 pounds after grilling, it will yield 10 pounds of edible beef. The raw brisket point will weigh four to nine pounds, while the flat and long weigh four to ten pounds.

Which Brisket Is More Tender, Left Or Right?

The left side of the steer might be tender, as most steers rest on the left side. Thus when the steer is getting up, it might use the right muscles more, making it lean. Thus, the right side brisket will contain more connective tissues, leading to a grainy cut.

The extra work thus makes the cut tougher than the brisket on the left; therefore, the right brisket might not be as tasty as the left brisket.

Thus, if you choose a right-side brisket, you may need to marinate it for an extended time to soften the beef cut. Moreover, you can grill the right side brisket for an extended time to convert the connective tissues into gelatin and make the brisket juicy, easy to chew, and digest.

Can You Rear Your Steers?

Although you can buy the brisket from the store, rearing your steers might be good. It might take about three years for the steer to mature; when it is ready for slaughtering, you can hire a veterinary doctor who checks its health, ensuring the beef cuts are safe for human consumption.

The steer or cow maturity may depend on the desired use for the meat, personal preference, and specific animal psychology. Sometimes cows can have contagious diseases which can transfer to humans, and it is better to keep up with the vaccinations and check the meat before selling or consuming it.

Rearing steers for brisket and other beef cuts might be a profitable business as the cost of beef continues to rise.

Starting steer rearing might seem like a gamble, especially if you don’t have extensive tracks of land. You can raise one cow on a one-acre farm and about eight cows for ten acres; however, you cannot keep them in small spaces since cows might need feed. Cows are heavy feeders, and a small area won’t sustain their feeding needs.

Feeding a few cows for subsistence and harvesting briskets and other meat cuts might not be sustainable as they are labor-intensive. You may need to consult with other farmers or veterinary experts to find the right number of sustainable cows.

For instance, rearing about 70 dairy cows and 150 steers might be profitable and earn you full-term income. If you have extensive land, you can put it to other uses to avoid relying on only the cows for income.

You may set aside about five acres for grazing during the grazing season when there is enough pasture. Cows enjoy grazing and basking in the sun, reducing the stress associated with staying indoors for an extended time. However, if you are raising cows for a hobby, you may start with at least five acres and let them graze freely in the field.

Different states might have different rules on the number of cows and acres you will have for your land to be considered a farm. Your land will be considered a farm if it has confined livestock. You should have more animal units of any combination, such as the chickens, turkeys, steers, and milk cows.

However, you may consider economic factors such as labor and other production factors for the farm to be profitable. For instance, one might work on the far for eight hours daily throughout the year without being exhausted.

You might automate the dairy unit to increase the yield and lower the cost of operation; if a person works eight hours a day on the dairy farm, they might care for about 275 cows per year. You can adjust different production factors in your farm to rear the best steers suitable for meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Brisket Called At The Grocery Store?

Most grocery stores call the brisket by its name, but you will find different cuts. A whole brisket is a packer, but since most stores divide the brisket along the natural lines to give two meat cuts, you will find the flat, the end, and the pointer.

All these are cut from the brisket and have almost similar characteristics, and you can choose one which meets your needs.

How Do You Buy Brisket At The Grocery Store?

Buying brisket from the grocery store might be simple as most stores sell the brisket already in the sub-primal cuts. If you are feeding many people, you can go for the packer, but some of the sub-primal cuts will meet your needs when feeding fewer people.

How to Serve Brisket at a Party?

You can serve the brisket at parties as it is easy to grill, roast, and BBQ. However, you may need more than two hours to smoke and grill it as it has connective tissues and grains which support the cow’s front legs.

Therefore, you can marinate it with pineapple, vinegar, and other ingredients that soften the connective tissues and slow grill it to turn them into gelatin. If you cook quickly over high heat, the brisket might become chewy. Since the brisket is a large meat junk, you can divide it into smaller portions that can feed a large crowd.

Serving large junks of the brisket will not feed everyone who attended the party. You can serve the brisket with salad, use it for burgers and hamburgers, and serve potatoes and other favorite dishes.

What to Serve With Brisket on a Bun?

You can serve your brisket on the burn with green vegetables like spinach, mayo, honey, stir-fries, and additional ingredients.

How Many Burgers Do You Get From A Cow?

The burgers you can get from a cow will depend on the size of the cow, the size of the burgers, and the cooking technique. Typically, you will get burgers to feed the whole party from a cow’s brisket.

How Big Is A Brisket On A Cow?

The cow’s brisket can be 20 pounds when raw. However, since it loses mass during grilling, you may get half of this weight when it is done. The brisket is lean and tough; thus, the connective tissues will melt into gelatin, ensuring you get a smooth plate of soft meat to feed the whole family.

How Many Short Ribs Per Cow?

The cow has the back and the short ribs, but there are 13 on each side. The first five ribs of the cow fall within the chuck cut, and the 7 ribs are a part of the rib section which extends down into the plate.

Knowing all these cuts might help a farmer who wants to slaughter their cows at home without the help of a veterinary doctor. All the cow ribs result in different cuts with different textures and tastes.

How Many Tri Tips Per Cow?

There are two tri-tips per cow; this is not common and goes by many names. However, your butcher will understand all the names given to the tri-tips. For instance, they could be sirloin tip, culottes, bottom sirloin, top sirloin, California cut, and Newport steak.


Although you can easily find the brisket at the grocery store and butcher’s shop, slaughtering a steer and cutting it from the front legs might be difficult. The brisket sold in the stores is mostly in sub-primal parts, but you can harvest two full packers from the cow’s front legs.

The beef cut is lean and is made of several connective tissues which support the cow’s front weight and promote movement. Thus, you would need to marinate it effectively and grill it for over two hours to break down the connective tissues into gelatin.

Good luck learning about the different beef cuts and how to cook and serve them.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.