How Many Ribs Does A Cow Have?

How many ribs does a cow have? Beef ribs are getting popular owing to their delicious taste. It urges people to search more about cow ribs, different types, and their cuts.

Whether you are frying, smoking, or cooking, beef ribs are satisfying and succulent of all the cuts of meat.

Because of the ribs’ immense popularity, we often see comparisons between beef ribs and pork ribs.

There is an increasing trend of cooking beef ribs for the barbecue over the last few years. The phrase “brisket on a brick” is often used to describe cow ribs as some cuts have an excessive amount of beef on each bone. 

Because of the variations of beef ribs and different cuts, most people get confused and argue as to how many ribs does a cow has? Leave all the assumptions aside as you will get all the queries answered once and for all.

So, without further ado, get to know some valuable information about cow ribs. 

How Many Ribs Does A Cow Have?

Cows have 13 pairs of ribs for a total of 26. Ribs cover a lot of area on steers and heifers. When the cow is butchered, beef ribs can be divided into different meat cuts. Beginning at the front of the cow, the first five ribs are in the chuck cut.

The next 7 ribs are included in the rib section. These ribs extend down to the short cut and the final pair of ribs are part of the loin cut. 

Beef ribs come from the most valuable parts of the animal, therefore, they are undoubtedly one of the most expensive meat cuts.

Beef ribs offer bursts of flavor and tender texture in comparison to other beef cuts which explains the expensive price tag. 

There are 13 ribs on each side of the cow, approximately 3 linear feet from the breastbone to the backbone and the other 3 to 4 feet from the shoulder to the last rib.

As these ribs cover a lot of territory on the animal, there are different types and different cuts for the beef ribs.

It gets quite confusing, especially when you visit the grocery store and see different variations of rib plates. No matter what the rib type, they all taste delicious.

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Types of Beef Ribs

On a cow, there are forequarters and hindquarters, all the different rib variations are found in the forequarters.

As you know, a steer has 13 rib bones on each side. During butchering, two quarters are separated and the butcher makes the cut between the 12th and 13th rib. 

The first kind is back ribs found inside the prime ribs underneath the ribeyes. Moving further down closer to the belly, we have the second type, short plate ribs.

The third and last type is chuck short ribs, these ribs are found inside the chuck.

Back Ribs

Beef back ribs are also known as finger ribs having 07 bones.

These ribs cut from the surrounding spine area towards the animal’s front, overlapping the ribeye and prime rib. Unlike other rib types, it comes from the upper part of the carcass. They are curved around 6 to 8 inches in length.

Most people assume beef back ribs are meaty and flavorful, however, in actuality, they have very little meat on top.

These ribs mostly have bone and fat with a bit of cartilage and tiny meat.

Most of the meat is present between the bones, hence, called the finger ribs.

Some back ribs are part of the ribeye and prime rib, so, they try to trim away the meat, leaving all of it for the most expensive cut, prime rib.

Plate Short Ribs

They are quintessential short ribs and called this name because they come from the short plate, it is not because they have a smaller size.

The short rib bones are straighter and bigger than the back ribs and located closer to the belly. Unlike back ribs, they have more meat on top of the bone. 

It is called the daddy of all the beef ribs as it is meatier and more flavorful. They are large and a single bone can weigh between 1 and 2.5 pounds.

Short ribs are cut shorter proportionally, 3 to 4 inches long, or even shorter.

Cutting them longer would not be easier to manage, they will fit perfectly in the cooking pot at 2 to 3 inches. These ribs are tender and heavy with connective tissues. 

These ribs come from the cow rib cage’s middle ribs and are mostly sold as single ribs or cut into smaller pieces. 

Chuck Short Ribs

Chuck’s short ribs are quite similar to the short plate ribs. The only difference is that the rib bones are smaller.

It is because chuck ribs come from the chuck area which is close to the head and under the shoulder of the animal.

They comprise ribs 1 to 4 and are usually 3 inches long. You can get Flanken and English cuts with chuck ribs. 

Chuck’s ribs have a lot of meat with smaller bones. It is one of the commonly available beef types in grocery stores and butcher shops.

Chuck ribs are also available boneless and can be cut into thinner ½” strips.

This rib type is popular in Korean-style barbecue and marinated with Asian sauce before cooking. 

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Selecting Beef Ribs

Like pork ribs, you can either buy large racks or individual portions like English, flanked, and Kalbi cuts.

The most readily available beef ribs are back ribs and chuck short ribs. Plate short ribs are generally available at supermarkets and specialty butcher shops.

When buying beef ribs, consider beef rating as well which is determined by marbling or intramuscular fat. 

It is summed up that cows have a total of 13 ribs divided into different varieties of beef rib types and cuts.

The major three types of ribs are Chuck Short Ribs, Plate Short Ribs, and Back Ribs. Now that you have all the in-depth information, the next trip to the butcher shop would be easier. 

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  • Hi, I am Talon Juper, a passionate farmer, and Livestock Expert. I have done my graduation in Agriculture and Animal breeding. Relevant to Farm Desire as a research writer and data recorder.

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