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Doug Steele, Vice Provost & Director
> Department > Home > Beef > Beef/Cattle > BQA
Beef/Cattle Extension Program

National Beef Quality Audit-2000: Survey of targeted cattle and carcass characteristics related to quality, quantity, and value of fed steers and heifers

"Over 11,000 calves and 7,000 cows were tagged with an electronic identification tag."

By D. R. McKenna*, D. L. Roeber†, P. K. Bates‡, T. B. Schmidt§, D. S. Hale*, D. B. Griffin*, J. W. Savell*, J. C. Brooks‡, J. B. Morgan‡, T. H. Montgomery§, K. E. Belk†, and G. C. Smith†

ABSTRACT The National Beef Quality Audit-2000 was conducted to assess the current status of the quality and consistency of U.S. fed steers and heifers. Between May and November 2000, survey teams assessed the following issue in 30 U.S. beef packing plants:

  • hide condition (n = 43,415 cattle for color, brands, mud/manure),
  • bruises (n = 43,595 carcasses),
  • offal and carcass condemnation (n = 8,588 cattle), and
  • carcass quality and yield information (n = 9,396 carcasses)
Hide colors black (45.1%),
red (31.0%),
yellow (8.0%),
Holstein (5.7%),
gray (4.0%),
white (3.2%),
brown (1.7%), and
brindle (1.3%)
Brand frequencies no (49.3%),
one (46.2%), and
two or more (4.4%)
Brand locations butt (36.3%),
side (13.7%), and
shoulder (3.6%)
Mud/manure on hides no (18.0%)
small amount (55.8%)
Horns no (77.3%)
Bruising not bruised (53.3%) 
one bruise (30.9%)
had multiple bruises (15.8%)
Bruise location round (14.9%),
loin (25.9%),
rib (19.4%),
chuck (28.2%), and
brisket, flank, and plate (11.6%)
Condemnation liver (30.3%),
lungs (13.8%),
tripe (11.6%),
heads (6.2%),
tongues (7.0%), and
carcasses (0.1%).
Carcass sex-classes steer (67.9%),
heifer (31.8%), and
bullock (0.3%)
Maturities A (96.6%),
B (2.5%), and
C or older (0.9%)
Dark Cutters dark-cutters (2.3%)
Breed types native (90.1%),
dairy-type (6.9%), and
Bos indicus (3.0%)
Mean USDA yield grade traits USDA yield grade (3.0),
carcass weight (356.9 kg),
adjusted fat thickness (1.2 cm),
longissimus muscle area (84.5 cm2), and
kidney, pelvic, and heart fat (2.4%).
USDA yield grades Yield Grade 1 (12.2%),
Yield Grade 2 (37.4%),
Yield Grade 3 (38.6%),
Yield Grade 4 (10.4%), and
Yield Grade 5 (1.3%).
Mean USDA quality grade traits USDA quality grade (Select85),
marbling score (Small23),
overall maturity (A66),
lean maturity (A65), and
skeletal maturity (A67).
Marbling score distribution Slightly Abundant or higher (2.3%),
Moderate (4.8%),
Modest (13.1%),
Small (33.3%),
Slight (43.3%), and
Traces (3.4%).
USDA quality grades Prime (2.0%),
Choice (49.1%),
Select (42.3%),
Standard (5.6%), and
Commercial, Utility, Cutter, and Canner (0.9%).

This information will help the beef industry measure progress compared to the past two surveys and will provide a benchmark for future educational and research activities.


The NBQA-2000 continues the process of updating information on various factors that affect the value of live cattle and their carcasses and by-products. Compared to previous audits, number and location of bruises have remained consistent; however, bruise severity has decreased. The number and location of brands, especially side brands, have remained relatively constant. Quality as measured by marbling score and USDA quality grade appears to be back to the level observed in the early 1990s, but carcass weights continue to increase dramatically. This information adds to the existing knowledge base of beef quality and consistency factors and will be a useful reference for various educational and research endeavors as the beef industry addresses issues related to improving the value of beef.

*Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2471;
†Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins 80523-1171;
‡Department of Animal Science, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 74078-0425; and §Division of Agriculture, West Texas A&M University, Canyon 79016

...a useful reference for various educational and research endeavors as the beef industry addresses issues related to improving the value of beef.


View Text-only Version Text-only Updated: 08/14/2009
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