Beef/Cattle Extension Program
2003: Carcass characteristics of calves enrolled
in the Montana Beef Network
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
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
||Suggested Industry Specifications
|Carcass Weight, lb.
||600 to 800
|Back Fat, in.
||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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions & Answers is a joint project between
MSU Extension and the Montana Beef Council. This column
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promotion and research projects funded through the
$1 per head checkoff. For more information, contact
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