How Much Freezer Space For Half A Cow? (We Did Calculations For You)

As beef prices skyrocket, I find myself attempting to cut costs whenever possible. For regular non-organic 80/20 beef, it’s around $6 in most locations. This seems crazy to me. I began to wonder if purchasing half a cow would be worth it and if I did, how much space would be needed to store all of it. 

To store half of a cow, around 8 cubic feet of freezer space is needed. One cubic foot of freezer space will allow you to store between 35 and 40 pounds of packaged beef. Since different meat will be packaged in different shapes, there’s a little variability in the space needed. 

Storing half a cow may not be the easiest task, especially if you don’t have the right freezer. I’ve made that mistake before. Certain freezers are better for storing bulk meat than others.

I personally like chest freezers because of their depth. If you’re in search of a freezer for your half of a cow, I’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about storage.

How Much Freezer Space Do You Need?

How Much Meat Is Half A Cow?

Half a cow is equal to approximately 220 pounds of beef. With this, you’ll get 100 pounds of ground beef; the rest are roasts, ribs, tenderloin, and little steaks. 

Price Of Half A Cow

On average, you can expect to pay around $1,100 for half a cow. The price of half a cow will vary depending on where it’s coming from and how much the butcher charges in fees. 

How Much Beef Can You Put In A Freezer?

As previously mentioned, you can store 35-40 pounds of beef per one cubic foot of freezer space. If you only have a top freezer above your refrigerator, you can store only an eighth of a cow. You’ll need a little more space if the meat is packaged in odd shapes. 

To better determine the total pounds of beef that can be stored in a freezer, you need to know the total amount in cubic feet that your freezer can hold. If you have a freezer/refrigerator combo, the label for cubic feet will be for the complete appliance, not just the freezer. 


This is why I highly recommend a chest freezer. It can hold much more than a refrigerator/freezer combo. 

If you couldn’t locate the internal dimensions of your freezer on a sticker anywhere, you will need to grab a tape measure.

Figuring out the internal dimensions of your freezer is very easy. All you have to do is measure the depth, width, and height inside of your freezer and multiply these three numbers together and divide by 1728. 

I’ll use my freezer dimensions as an example. The internal dimensions are 54” width, 20.5” depth, and 28” height. I would multiply 54 x 20.5 x 28, which equals 30,996. Then I would take 30,996 and divide it by 1,728 which gives me 18 (17.94) cubic feet. 

If you share the freezer with other food, you’ll need to take this into consideration. I share my freezer with other food, so I can only use about 14 cubic feet of space for my beef. If you want as much space as possible, clean out your freezer before getting your beef. 

How Much Freezer Space Will My Beef Take?

The amount of space your beef takes will depend on how much you have. For a quarter of a cow, which is 85 pounds of meat, it will take up 4 cubic feet of space. 

For a side (half) of a cow, which is around 220 pounds of beef, it will take up to 8 cubic feet. A whole cow is going to need 16 cubic feet and will weigh about 500 pounds.

These numbers will fluctuate since some of the beef will be packaged in odd shapes. So be sure to account for that. 

Beef PurchasedPoundsFreezer Space Needed For Just BeefTotal Freezer Space Needed If Half Full
Whole Cow50012.25 Cu. Ft.24+ Cu. Ft. 
Half Cow2458-10 Cu. Ft. 12+ Cu. Ft. 
Quarter Cow122.55-7 Cu. Ft. 8+ Cu. Ft. 
⅛  Cow50 3 Cu. Ft. 5+ Cu. Ft. 
50# Box/Bundle50 1.25 Cu. Ft. 2.5 Cu. Ft. 

Best Chest Freezers For Storing Beef

Since you’re looking for storage for half of a cow, you’ll want to look for a freezer with 8-10 cubic feet of storage space if you’re sharing it and just 6 cubic feet if you’re only storing the cow. 

My favorite chest freezer and the one I’m currently using is the GE Energy Star Garage Ready Chest Freezer. I like this freezer because it has a large capacity of 15.7 cubic feet and will stay cool for 48 hours in the event of a power outage.

Additionally, there’s a handy alarm that will alert me if the internal temperature begins to rise. I just didn’t like that since it doesn’t have wheels, it’s tough to drain. 

The other chest freezer I considered was the midsized Media Chest Freezer. I liked this one because it was the perfect size for only half a cow and it’s relatively cheap for a chest freezer.

It has two removable storage baskets and an LED light that’s activated when the lid is opened. There are various freezer settings and you can convert it to a refrigerator if you need to. Draining it is easy as well because it’s on casters and can be moved to a safe place to drain it. 

The only reason I didn’t purchase this unit was that it doesn’t have a temperature indicator or an external power indicator. There would be no way for me to know the power to it was off since there’s no indicator light. 

Best Upright Freezers For Storing Beef

An upright freezer is more space-saving than a chest freezer, but not one of my favorites. That doesn’t mean it won’t be right for you. 

The Danby Upright Freezer is a good choice for half of a cow. It has an 8.5 cubic foot capacity, which is equivalent to 241 liters. Each shelf has integrated cooling coils, so this means you can’t move them. However, the beef will always stay cold. 

The reversible door hinge is a game changer, though. If you want to put the freezer in a certain location, but the door is stopping you, you can switch it around so that it works. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have an interior light. 

Another freezer I recommend is the Frigidaire 6.5 cubic foot upright freezer. This is an affordable option for storing half of a cow and nothing more. As with the Danby, it has a reversible door. 

If I Am Buying an 8, ¼, ½, or Whole Cow, Which Freezer Is Better, Chest or Upright?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this, but I personally recommend a chest freezer. They’re considered to be more economical for many reasons. 

First, they offer about 20 percent more usable space than an upright freezer. This is because every inch of the freezer is usable storage. In addition to this, the design allows it to consume less energy. 

Furthermore, they can accommodate objects that wouldn’t quite fit as cleanly in an upright freezer. 

Lastly, it can keep food colder longer in the event of a power outage


Disadvantages to chest freezers are that most models don’t contain an auto-defrost feature and a larger footprint is needed to fit your chest freezer. 

When it comes to upright freezers, they have a much smaller footprint, giving you more space in yoru home or garage. 

They’re easier to organize your food with storage shelves and bins. The one thing they have that may steer potential users to them is the auto-defrost feature. You would have to spend an entire day defrosting a chest freezer whereas upright freezers defrost on their own. 

These freezers usually cost more, use more electricity, and have less usable storage capacity, which is why I don’t like to recommend them for storing large amounts of beef. 

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Best Way to Organize Your Freezer When Putting in Lots of Beef at Once

You can organize your chest and standup freezer the same way. Organizing a chest freezer is going to be a little more work than a standup freezer, but if you do it correctly, it won’t be such a chore. 

The first thing I like to do is purchase large storage bins from the dollar store. They’re handy, cheap, and ideal for storing meat. I don’t like to use metal baskets because it sometimes causes the seals of the wrapping to pop open.

If the sealed packages pop open, you’re going to lose the meat due to freezer burn. Nobody likes to eat freezer-burnt meat. I wish I could say I’ve never had that problem. One trick I learned was to place the packaged meat in another durable sealed bag, such as a gallon Ziploc bag. That way, if the seal pops on the meat, it’s still protected. 

I try to place the same types of meat in their respective baskets and place them near each other. I’ll put the larger meats at the bottom of the freezer and meat that I’m not going to immediately use. I will then place my ground beef and smaller cuts on top. 

Organizing the meat is definitely easier to do in a standup freezer, but you’ll get more internal storage space with a chest freezer. 

If you have old meat or other food that you know you won’t use, consider taking that stuff out of the freezer to make room for the new product. 

How Do You Transport Half A Cow?

To transport half of a cow, you’ll need 2 large plastic coolers for every ¼ cow, so 4 large plastic coolers. The beef is going to be frozen, so you can pack it in the coolers and put them right into the freezer when you get home. I suggest wearing a pair of washable winter gloves to prevent the cold from hurting your fingers. 

How Do I Calculate Cubic Feet Of A Freezer?

To calculate the cubic feet of a freezer, you simply measure the depth, width, and height inside of your freezer and multiply these three numbers together and divide by 1728. You use 1728 because 1 foot = 12 inches. So 1 cubic foot would be 12 x 12 x 12, which comes out to 1728 cubic inches. 

What Cuts Can I Get From Half A Cow?

From half of a cow, you will get approximately 100 lbs of ground beef, filet steak, ribeye steak, sirloin steak, skirt steak, strip steak, brisket, chuck roast, arm roast, rump roast, round roast, stew meat, kabob meat, beef ribs, and soup bones. You can also opt for the miscellaneous stiff liver, heart, and tongue. 

How Long Will Half A Cow Last In the Freezer?

For best quality, you should consume uncooked steaks, roasts, or chops within four to 12 months of freezing. Uncooked ground beef should be consumed within four months and cooked beef within two to three months. 

Does Freezing Beef Ruin It?

Not if it’s properly wrapped. As long as your beef, whether steak or ground, is properly vacuum sealed, it will maintain its freshness for months and maybe even up to a year or more. We’ve vacuum-sealed beef on our own and it lasted in our freezer for 2 years before we used it. 

Final Considerations

I personally think that purchasing half a cow right from a butcher is the best way to go. As long as you have a large enough freezer, whether stand-up or chest, you should be able to hold a decent amount of beef.

Remember, you need at least 8 cubic feet of space without anything else in it for half a cow. I like to go a little higher so I have more room for other items if I need them.