Beef Grades and The Bottom Line

Ranchers, like most businessmen, are constantly looking for ways to improve their bottom line. That’s one of the goal’s of Texas Agrilife Extension’s Beef 706 Course. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"When you actually have the animal there in front of you and you’re able to work with the different cuts of meat, it’s an eye opening experience."

Part of what the Beef 706 Short Course teaches ranchers is to look at their calves through the eyes of a professional cattle buyer.

"When that buyer, whether it’s for a feed yard, or for a stocker operator, whoever they’re buying them for, they know when that calf runs through the marketing channel there, whatever marketing channel it is, they’re looking at several things. They’re looking at, well what’s going to be the, what do they predict the ultimate carcass quality to be of that particular steer, maybe it’s a high yielding animal or high marbling."

We asked Agrilife Extension’s Dr. Jason Cleere which of the two steers we had been looking at would have brought the most money.

"On the red steer we had a little discount for the yield grade, he was too fat. We had a little premium because he graded choice. The white steer, we had a little bit of a premium because of the yield grade, but we had a little discount because we didn’t get into that choice category, so when it all worked out, this calf, the white steer, was worth probably about two dollars more per hundred weight of carcass than the red steer."

There are markets for all grades of cattle.

"We look at the retail, what’s sold in the retail, it’s going to be select. There’s a market for choice product. There’s a market for prime."

But rancher Dennis Kaspar says it pays to produce the highest grade of animal that you can.

"We definitely have changed things. We are specifically selecting for carcass traits in our cattle, and we’re also specifically selecting for tenderness. The yield grades, the quality grades and things, that all definitely dictates into dollars."

I’m Joe Brown, tracing the journey our food makes from the ranch to our plates, From The Ground Up.