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  • Lesa Reid

A Side of Kirkhaven Farm Dexter Beef: The Basics




When we chat with clients about Kirkhaven Farm Dexter Beef, we typically encounter similar questions from each client. Here's a question-and-answer blog to share those common questions and answers.


Note:

All farms that raise Dexter cattle are unique. Everyone has their own beef-growing system. The numbers listed here are averages for us but should not be extrapolated as averages for all Dexters.


How do you raise your steers?

Every steer at Kirkhaven Farm is a purebred Irish Dexter, registered with the American Dexter Cattle Association (ADCA). Our steer calves grow strong and healthy from their mother’s milk, typically being weaned at about 8 months old. Kirkhaven steers graze on Appalachian valley pastures, living peacefully as part of a contented herd their entire lives: no feedlots, no confinement for special “finishing,” no high-grain diets. They leisurely snack on blackberries and other delicacies in the woods, on hillsides, and over the ridges of our Tennessee farmstead. They drink fresh creek water that flows across the valley from cold springs on surrounding mountains. They are fed a very small amount of custom-mixed feed so they always show up to visit with us each day. And during the winter, we provide them with an unlimited supply of good quality hay.


We raise our Kirkhaven beef animals with respect, compassion, and pride. They are calm and tame since they interact with us daily. And we guard our thrifty, hardy Dexter genetics through studied breeding practices, careful herd management, and breeding-stock culling to help us create a beef product that is consistent in quality.


What, exactly, is a “side of beef” ?

A side of beef is one half of a steer carcass, either the left side or the right side.


What is “hanging weight” ?

Hanging weight is the weight of the carcass after everything has been removed from the steer except the meat on the bones. Average hanging weight for Kirkhaven Dexter steers is 424 pounds, so the average hanging weight of a side of Kirkhaven beef is 212 pounds.


What is “cut weight” ?

Cut weight is the weight of all the meat after aging, final cutting, and packaging. Average cut weight for a Kirkhaven Dexter steer is 264 pounds, so the average amount of packaged beef for a side is 132 pounds.


Is Kirkhaven Farm Dexter beef aged?

Yes, we custom age our beef to enhance both the flavor and the tenderness. The bulk weight of the carcass and the amount of cover fat determines the appropriate aging time.


What are “primals”?

Primals are the parts of a side of beef. Each primal is from a different section of the carcass and has its own favor, and unique characteristics. Our custom cut sheet is divided into primal sections to keep your cut choices organized. The 8 primals (with some sub-primals) are:

Chuck

Rib

Loin (Short Loin, Sirloin, Tenderloin, Top Sirloin, Bottom Sirloin)

Round

Brisket

Plate

Flank

Shank


Where is the Kirkhaven Farm Dexter Beef custom cut sheet?

You can find our Kirkhaven Farm Dexter Beef Beef Cut Sheet under the Dexter Beef tab at the Custom Cutting page.


Will you help me fill out my cut sheet?

Of course we will! If you are unsure about filling out your cut sheet, just give us a call or send us an email. We will gladly walk you through the entire decision-making process and help you choose the cuts you are sure to enjoy.


Can we get extra things like the liver, tongue, ox tail, and soup bones?

Please do! The Kirkhaven Farm Dexter Beef Cut Sheet gives you the opportunity to request specialty organ meats and items you wouldn’t ordinarily find in a store. If you haven’t tried some of these items, don’t be shy! Ox-tail soup . . . soup bone beef broth . . . hangar steak with mushrooms . . . liver and onions . . . there are some amazing dishes to prepare with Dexter beef specialty items!


Can I contact you with other questions?

Sure! Feel free to post your questions on the comment section below, email us, or give us a call (please leave a message if we miss your call). Questions are always welcomed!


And, just as a side note, catfish go crazy over raw Dexter liver bait! And our pups are certainly fans of Dexter bone treats.


Later blogs will explain in more detail about each primal, its unique characteristics, ways to get it cut, and special cooking instructions. Stay tuned!