Beef producers are afforded several continuing education opportunities by Texas A&M Agrilife Extension’s Beef 706 programs that are put on several times a year. The goal is for producers to get a hands on look at how the genetics and management of their cattle herds can affect the quality and value of the beef product that they produce. Dan Hale is a professor and Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Meat Specialist.
“This program is a partnership with The Texas Beef Council. The Texas Beef Council, they’re in the business of trying to produce a better quality product for the consumer, and so they’re actually reaching back into the producers to try and produce that type of product, to try to help the producers understand what’s important for the consumer, as far as taste, the flavor of the beef, the tenderness of the beef.”
Hale says they bought a group of calves at an auction and finished them in a feed yard so that Beef 706 participants could evaluate the animals.
“Within the cattle we looked at today there’s over a four-hundred dollar difference in the value of those animals from the packer standpoint when they actually sell the meat from that animal so that tells you that there is a lot of variation in the cattle that we produce in the industry, and another one of our goals is to try to help producers, at least on an individual basis, be more consistent in the production practices that they use, because ultimately when they do that they’re going to provide a more consistent product.”
Hale says when producers do that, they ultimately provide consumers with a more consistent product from a taste standpoint as well as a nutritional standpoint.
“We taught them how to quality grade and yield grade, and people have heard about prime, choice, and select. We actually taught them how it’s done and then they took the animal that they had looked at and they looked at their carcasses and they graded those animals, and then they cut those carcasses up. We put them in groups of five people per group and everyone took a side of beef and cut it into what we call box beef. So like the rib eyes and the strips and the tenderloins.”
The hope is that participants see what drives the value of that carcass to the meat packer.
“And today we’re really working on genetics and feed lot performance helping them understand what happens in the feed yard and the value of feeder calves so they get more of a real production take home message of what they can do when they go back to the ranch.”