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> Department > Home > Beef > Beef/Cattle > BQA
Beef/Cattle Extension Program

2003: Carcass characteristics of calves enrolled in the Montana Beef Network 

"...the average yield grade for Montana Beef Network calves was higher than that reported by the economists, it does support the suggestion of noticeable differences between MBN cattle and U.S. averages  in yield grades."

By Lisa Duffey, MBN Project Coordinator

Through a carcass data collection service, the Montana Beef Network is able to compare Montana's beef carcass characteristics with suggested industry standards. Table 1 (below) shows that Montana calves generally fit within the beef industry specifications. 

Table 1. Carcass Data from 2001 Montana born calves (n=1747 calves)

  Average Minimum Maximum Suggested Industry Specifications
Carcass Weight, lb. 809 479 1036 600 to 800
Yield Grade 3.1 0.7 5.51.5 3.5
Back Fat, in. 0.52 0.10 1.24 N/A
Quality Grade Choice Standard Prime Select+ to Choice+

Approximately 70% of the Montana calves had a carcass weight between 600 and 850 lbs (Figure 1) with only .3% have carcass weights above 1,000 lbs, which could result in a severe discount.

Reinforcing the results reported by Drs. Gary Brester, Kevin McNew, and Vincent Smith from the MSU Ag Economics Department in last month's issue, Montana calves are generally concentrated in the Choice quality grade (Figure 2). Sixty-six percent of Montana calves graded choice or better. 

While the average yield grade for Montana Beef Network calves was higher (3.1) than that reported by the economists (2.58), it does support the suggestion of noticeable differences between MBN cattle and U.S. averages (2.35) in yield grades. 

Yield grades estimate the amount of boneless, closely trimmed retail cuts from the high-value parts of the carcass' the round, loin, rib, and chuck. A high yield grade number indicates more fat on the carcass and less meat available for retail cuts, resulting in a discount on the carcass. 

As Figure 3 shows, the percentage of calves having a Yield Grade 4 (12.07%) is higher than we might hope for and could result in a discount if sold on a grid. Remember that Yield Grade is influenced by genetics and feeding management.

The Montana Beef Network is a partnership program of Montana State University and the Montana Stockgrowers Association. For more information on the Montana Beef Network, contact Lisa Duffey at (406) 994-43223 or lduffey@montana.edu 

Beef: Questions & Answers is a joint project between MSU Extension and the Montana Beef Council. This column informs producers about current consumer education, promotion and research projects funded through the $1 per head checkoff. For more information, contact the Montana Beef Council at (406) 442-5111 or at beefcncl@mt.net

 

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