Contrary to what some may think, there’s a little more to beef production than turning a bunch of cows out into a pasture and gathering their calves once a year. A group of ranchers from across the state were in town this week to attend Texas Agrilife Extension’s Beef 706 Continuing Education course. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From the Ground Up.
"What are some things that maybe you do on the ranch that can effect carcass quality and the overall meat quality that’s produced out of those animals another year after it leaves your particular operation?"
"As a rancher, we very seldom have the opportunity to see the cattle at the end, what is going into the retail case, what’s being involved from processing to feed lots, to all of that. We’re in the very beginning, so decisions we make on the type of cattle we produce will effect what is hanging on the rail. This gives us an opportunity to take that hide off and look at it ourselves."
One of the traits that determines the value of an animal is the amount of intra-muscular marbling that produces the tenderness a unique flavor of a good steak.
"As we increase the external fat of an animal, we would expect marbling to increase. Unfortunately, it’s not one to one. If it would, it would be easy to predict what the actual marbling is going to be of that animal."
And as you might expect, the amount of red meat the animal yields impacts its value.
"We’re going to be looking at how much fat, if we look behind his shoulders, we’re going to be looking, do we see any ribs there? And on that steer we don’t see any ribs. That calf is really smooth, there’s essentially if we look at him we don’t see a lot of skeletal structure. At the same time he doesn’t have a lot of excess fat."
And the process does turn into a balancing act.
"We try to balance out where we get an acceptable carcass quality, get into that, at least select-choice range, but at the same time we’ve got some red meat yield to it, and we don’t have excess trim."
I’m Joe Brown, tracing the journey our food makes from the ranch to our plates, From The Ground Up.