on the rail
Dark cutting is one of
the easiest ways for
otherwise quality beef
to lose any premiums.
Due to lactic acid levels
in the muscle being
higher than usual, dark
cutters are commonly
caused by prolonged
long-term stress and
rough handling before
as unsightly blood
splash from internal
Animals with thick,
excessive external fat,
especially along the
loin, rib and chuck,
represent too much
feeding and poor
to a lower yield grade.
Includes injection site
lesions, bruising and
other muscle injury.
The average ribeye
area is approximately
11 to 15 square inches.
Outside this range, there
is an adjustment for
yield grade calculation.
Likewise, you want
a hot carcass weight
of 650 to 850 lbs. at
a 62-64% dressing
Sufficient marbling is
key to making a high
beef quality grade.
is the biggest limiter
on getting a carcass to
Beef quality is evaluated according to the ribeye
area. An illustration of the grading scale in a cooler.
WHERE COULD WE GO?
Over the years, yield and quality
grades have changed a lot. The industry
is now in a unique era with the blend
of science and consumer preferences
at peaks never seen before. And while
we seem to currently be at a good equilibrium
with meeting the consumer
demands on quality, there may be
upcoming changes in the way we follow
through with getting there.
One example Dr. Hale pointed to was
yield grade. “We’re finding many plants
don’t do the traditional yield grade anymore,”
he shares. “Now we use instruments
for both (yield and quality grades),
the E+V system is used now; the old system
was called Beef Cam. The resulting
number is very accurate and calibrated
by USDA on a daily basis; these are good
and reliable machines. Now we can also
predict retail product boxed beef yield.”
Given this shift in technology and
growing concerns about the importance
of efficiency and minimal waste,
we can assume there will likely be more
focus on yield grade in the future. We
could also see more specifications on the
yield grade categories - after all, grades 1
and 2 can be a fairly wide range in cutability
at the moment.
But as a whole, consumers are pretty
happy with what the industry is doing
to reach them.
“One of the challenges is accounting
for niche markets, such as grassfed beef,”
says O’Quinn. “This is because it’s well
documented grassfed beef has a very different
flavor than grain fed beef. This difference
in flavor and the resulting impact
on overall beef palatability should be
accounted for by the quality grading system.
There have already been some preliminary
discussions regarding how to
address issues such as this in the future.”
Indirectly, changes in reproduction
and genetics, such as genomics, can
be anticipated. As more animals are
genotyped and identified, the genetics
that contribute directly to yield and
quality grades can be honed-in on and
expressed through breeding programs
The possibilities are endless.
CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2020 I WORKING RANCH I 73