How Many Ribs Does A Cow Have

How Many Ribs Does A Cow Have

Ribs are a popular cut of meat that comes from cattle, commonly known as cows. When you have a lot to grill at your summer barbecue, you may wonder how many prime ribs per cow you will get or how many ribs on a cow you can get for your money.

The cow’s number of ribs mattered in determining the different beef cuts available. Cows have a total of 13 pairs of ribs, with each pair running from the spine to the breastbone.

This rib cage provides a structure for the animal’s internal organs and protects them from external harm. Understanding the number of ribs on a cow and the cuts that come from them is essential for cooking and determining the tenderness and flavor of different beef cuts.

Some cuts, such as the prime rib, are considered more expensive because of their high-fat levels and are typically reserved for special occasions. Other cuts, such as short ribs, are known for their meaty flavor and are used in many dishes, such as stews and braises.

The number of ribs on a cow, combined with the cooking method, affects the taste and texture of the final dish. In our guide, you can learn more about beef ribs, such as chuck short ribs, plate ribs, back ribs, and more. By the end, you’ll see the ribs for total number can depend on the different cuts, such as taking the most expensive cuts first for prime rib and seeing what is left. (Learn How Many Teats Does A Cow Have)


How Many Beef Ribs On A Cow?

Cows have 26 ribs—13 pairs. On steers and heifers, ribs cover a lot of area. When the cow is butchered, beef cuts can be divided into different beef cuts. The first five ribs of the cow are chuck cut.

The rib portion has 7 more ribs. These ribs reach the short cut and the loin cut’s last pair. Beef ribs are one of the most expensive meat cuts since they come from the most prized portions of the animal.

Beef ribs are expensive because they are more flavorful and tender than other beef cuts. The cow has 13 ribs on each side, 3 linear feet from the breastbone to the backbone, and 3 to 4 feet from the shoulder to the last rib.

Beef ribs have several varieties and cuts since they cover many animals.

Types of Beef Ribs

There are forequarters and hindquarters on a cow, and the forequarters are where all the distinct rib variants can be found. As you know, a steer has 13 ribs on each side. Two quarters are divided during butchering, and the butcher makes the cut between the 12th and 13th rib.

  • The first variety is back ribs, beneath the ribeyes, and inside the prime ribs, where the meat stays with the ribs as these have less meat than other beef ribs.
  • We have the second type, short plate ribs located lower and closer to the abdomen.
  • Chuck short ribs are the third and final variety; they are located inside the chuck.

Back Ribs

Beef back ribs are also called finger ribs because they have 07 bones. The rib eye and prime rib are overlapped by these ribs, which are cut from the surrounding spine area to the animal’s front. (Learn How Fast Are Cows)

It comes from the top carcass, unlike other ribs. They are curved 6–8 inches long. Most people believe that beef back ribs are tasty and meaty, but there is very little meat on top.

  • Bone, fat, cartilage, and little meat make up these ribs.
  • Finger ribs have the most meat between the bones.
  • They clip back ribs that are part of the ribeye and prime rib to save the meat for the most expensive cut.

Plate Short Ribs

They’re called short ribs because they come from a smaller plate, not because they’re small.

  • The belly-side short ribs are straighter and larger than the rear ribs. They have more meat on top than back ribs.
  • It’s called the daddy of beef ribs since it’s meatier and tastier. They are large, and a single bone weighs 1–2.5 pounds.
  • Short ribs are cut short, 3–4 inches in length, or even shorter.
  • At 2–3 inches, they fit perfectly in the cooking pot. These connective-tissue-laden ribs are sensitive.
  • These ribs come from the center of the cow rib cage and are marketed as a single rib or cut into smaller pieces.

Chuck Short Ribs

fresh beef

Chuck’s short ribs resemble plate short ribs. Just smaller rib bones.

  • Chuck beef ribs come from the animal’s chuck area near the head and shoulder.
  • Beef short ribs are 3 inches long and comprise ribs 1 to the fifth rib. With chuck rib cuts, you can get Flank and English cuts.
  • Chuck’s ribs contain a lot of meat and smaller bones. It’s one of the beef types sold in grocery stores and butcher shops.
  • Chuck ribs can also be boneless and cut into thinner strips of 1/2 inch or go to make ground chuck.

How To Select Beef Ribs

You can buy English, flanked, and Kalbi cuts or large racks like pork ribs.

  • The most common is the back ribs (dinosaur ribs) and chuck short ribs. Supermarkets and butcher stores sell plate-short ribs.
  • Marbling or intramuscular fat determines beef grading while buying beef ribs.
  • Cows have 13 pairs divided into beef rib cuts and types.
  • Chuck Short Ribs on a cow, Plate Short Ribs, and Back Ribs are the three main types of ribs.

Types of Beef Cuts?

The primal cuts are the first eight major cuts of beef. You’ll find these different cuts the most tender cuts and best cuts from all types of beef you can get.

  • Chuck
  • Rib
  • Loin (contains the final pair of ribs)
  • Round
  • Flank
  • Short Plate
  • Brisket
  • Shank

These large primal cuts are divided into smaller subprimal cuts, which are sent to local markets for final cutting and preparation. These last cuts are called as portion cuts and are meat cuts like steaks, ribs, and roasts in supermarkets.

Focusing on the eight primal regions and their typical portion cuts will simplify beef buying. Understanding these key cuts and their differences is adequate for most beef buyers. (Read Can A Cow Swim)


From the cow’s shoulder, Chuck comes. It’s a tasty cut of beef that can be prepared in many ways but stiffer. Chuck is probably what you’re most familiar with because of its versatility and low cost. Any cooking works beautifully with it!

Ground chuck (hamburgers ground beef), short ribs, shoulder tender medallions, pot roast, shoulder steak, flat-iron steak, and stew meat are just a few examples of the chunk cuts available for meat.

Rib Section Cuts

The rib primal cut is beef ribs and backbone meat. Only the last six of a cow’s 13 pairs of ribs are classed here—the rests are chuck and short plate! Rib cuts are delicate and comprise lots of fat.

Rib cuts are expensive and best slow-cooked. The several cuts available for ribs are beef short ribs, cowboy steak, ribeye roast, ribeye filet, and back ribs.

Loin Cut

beef for steak

Your most expensive cuts of beef can be found here. The loin is not a heavily used muscle because it is placed behind the ribs. In comparison to more muscular cuts, the loin is very tender. The short loin and sirloin cuts are both noteworthy.

Sirloin is the least tender cut in the loin region. Typically, top sirloin is best grilled and rarely slow-cooked. The short loin is tendered than sirloin cuts because it is closer to the cow’s core. It’s typically best grilled or fried since, like sirloin, it dries out quickly. The short loin cuts are NY strip, tri-tip roast, T-Bone, porterhouse, tenderloin, filet mignon, and strip loin.


Round primal is a cheap, lean cut. It’s typically a rough cut of beef from the cow’s hind legs. Because of its leanness, this cut requires high-heat cooking (like top, bottom, and eye round part cuts) or slow cooking (like rump and eye roast).

Round steak, the eye of round, tip roast, tip steak, top game, and bottom round roasts are common round cuts in supermarkets.


Below the loin is the flank primal cut. This rough region is tasty despite having no bones. Typically, it was the least expensive cut in a store. However, as lean meat demand soared, flank steak popularity and price rose.

Only flank steaks and skirt steaks are available; both are best grilled at high heat.

Short Plate

Short plate cuts are near the cow’s stomach. Because of its cow location, beef cuts are inexpensive, rough, and fatty. You may also get marbled short ribs from here.

Skirt steak, hanger steak, beef bacon, pastrami, short ribs, and ground beef from this primal cut are the most typical cuts of short plate portion that you may purchase in supermarkets.


The brisket cut of a cow’s breast is a barbecue classic. Brisket is noted for its fat and harsh texture but may be cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

There’s a thin line between juicy and dry when slow-cooking brisket. To soften this cut, tenderize and marinade before slow cooking. There are typically just two cuts of brisket available: point and flat. The flat is leaner and slow-cooks better. (Read Can Cows Eat Apples)

Shank Portion Cuts

The roughest and cheapest cut of beef shanks. This dry beef cut is in front of the brisket on the cow’s forearm.

Shank is typically not sold in retail stores. If you can find it, it makes cheap beef stock or lean ground beef. It is ideally cooked for a long time at moist heat because of its dry character.

How Many Ribs Does A Cow Have

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