Idaho Beef

Many people quickly associate Idaho with potatoes but there are actually several other larger agricultural industries in Idaho. The beef/cattle industry is one of those vital agricultural industries that is able to thrive in Idaho on it’s vast pastures and public lands. Did you realize there are 2.5 million head of cattle in Idaho but only 1.6 million people!

These 2.5 million cattle are raised by a massive amount of small ranchers spread throughout the state. There are 8,149 ranching operations currently running in the state. Working together throughout the life of the cattle rancher aim to best use all of the vital natural resources like land, water and energy – not just for today, but also for the future. The result of using a combination of best practices of handling of the cattle and feeding of the cattle results in a delicious and nutritious food you can continue to feel good about serving to your family and friends.

Chef Shawn Smith from Coyne’s Restaurant in Eagle has been featured in a great new video made by Chef Roll. In it Chef Shawn heads out to the range and hops on a horse to tour the beef production at Brackett Ranches. Coyne’s Restaurant is currently featuring a Steak Out menu for folks in the Boise area to order their delicious high quality cuts of beef for pick up during this time of limited seating and dining restrictions. They are also open for some limited capacity dine in eating. For additional pictures of the Coyne’s steaks and to listen to Kim Brackett of Brackett Ranches discuss raising beef in Idaho head to our Instagram page and watch about 5 minutes of that presentation in the featured stories section.

Let go through the characteristics of each cut.


The loin is located just behind the ribs, at the top part of the cow; farthest from the horns and hooves.

The most tender and priciest cuts of beef come from the loin, which is usually divided into two main parts, the sirloin and the short-loin. Since the muscles in this part of the cow are not worked very hard, the meat tends to be quite tender.

While the sirloin is slightly tougher than the short-loin, it is considered to be the more flavorful of the two.


This beef cut is obtained from the breast of the cow under the first five ribs. It is often sold without the bone and divided into two sections: flat cut and point cut. It can also be sold as a “Packer’s cut” which is the whole brisket.

The flat cut is noted for containing minimal amounts of fat and is more expensive than the point cut which contains more fat. It is usually tougher because of its proximity to the hooves. When prepared properly it is one of the most flavorful cuts of meat.

Brisket needs a lot of time at a lower temperature to tenderize.


Right in front of the brisket, comes the shank cut. This cut is known to be one of the toughest of all 8 cuts, and requires a lot of preparation to tenderize it.

Since it is so tough, this cut is mainly used in the preparation of soups and stews. Shank cuts are usually cooked for extended periods allowing the meat to tenderize as much as possible.


Another tough beef cut is the chuck. This cut is found on the cow’s shoulder area; one of the most heavily worked muscles on the entire animal. However, even with its toughness, the chuck is considered to be among the most flavorful cuts.

Butchers usually cut the chuck into a wide variety of cuts, giving customers numerous options to choose from.


At the hind legs and rump of the cow you have the round cut. While this primal cut of beef tends to be lean, it is also tougher as the muscles around this part of the steer are usually worked hard on a regular basis.

The round cut is among the most inexpensive beef cuts you can find in a grocery store.

Short Plate:

Found in the abdomen area of the cow, the short plate cut, or simply plate, also has some short ribs.

Short plate cuts tend to be fattier than rib cuts. If you are not a big fan of fatty beef, then you may have to consider buying the leaner cuts.


Right below the loin you have the flank cut, which is one of the toughest beef cuts but also one of the leanest. This flavorful cut does not have any bones.

In the past the flank was considered to be an inexpensive cut. However, its low fat content has elevated its status as one of the most sought after, and with it, increased its price.


These cuts are obtained from the cow’s backbone and ribs. To be more specific, only the last 6 to 12 of the 13 pairs of ribs on a cow are included in the primal rib cut; the chuck cut takes the remaining ribs.

Rib cuts are known for their tender, flavorful nature. The high amount of marbling in these cuts is one of the main reasons behind their rich flavor.

The Idaho Beef Council website has a ton of resources on the Idaho ranchers, their quality standards, and full beef production story. We recommend you go to to learn more information.