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Grading Beef Carcasses

There are 8 different grades of beef, but the top three most of us are familiar with are the USDA stickers we see that are either select, choice, or prime. What most of us don’t know is that there’s also a carcass yield grade from 1 to 5, and together these two grades determine the value of the animal to a producer. At Agrilife Extension’s recent Beef 706 Short course, ranchers were learning how to grade live animals to predict their value. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"We predicted, this was the red calf, and we predicted it to be an average choice on the quality grade or the meat palatablity type score, and we expected it to be a yield grade four."

Dr. Jason Cleere took a look at the carcass after having graded the live animal.

"As we look at it, and actually how it cut out, you can see when we look at the rib-eye, there’s quite a bit of marbling in there, and this particular calf actually graded a little less marbling than we thought. He was a low choice, still in the choice range. As we expected, he had a lot of external fat. He’d been on feed probably too long, and so we had a lot of external fat, as we look at this. We predicted him to have about seven tenths and he ended up with about eight tenths of external fat."

His predictions on the red steer were pretty good.

"We thought that this particular steer would be, we called him a low choice, on the meat quality we thought he would be borderline, and then we called him actually a yield grade one."

Likewise he got pretty close on the white steer.

"He ended up being select, high select, so we barley missed our mark on the quality grade, he was a little leaner, didn’t have quite as much marbling as we thought, but he definitely, if we looked at his fat thickness, we said he was really lean yesterday, we called him at between three tenths and four tenths of fat. He actually had three tenths of fat, and again his yield grade calculated out to a one."

I’ll volunteer to enjoy the steaks that came from either one of these animals. I’m Joe Brown, tracing the journey our food makes from the ranch to our plates, From The Ground Up.


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