Carcass Traits

Beef Cattle Carcass Traits and why you need them.

     Beef Cattle Carcass Traits are moderately to highly heritable. This means that the carcass characteristics of a bull will be passed on to his progeny, similar to average daily gain or weight per day of age. We also know that there is as much variation within a breed as there is between breeds.

     Backfat, ribeye area, and marbling are the major traits that should be assessed.

     Conformation means looking at the muscling and overall condition of the animal.

     All of these measurements and more can be determined with ease and are quite accurate with new ultrasound technologies. Gearld Fry is a certified ultrasound technician and offers this service, linear measuring, minerals, nutrition and plain cow sense in his consulting business. Contact him through his web site; Bovine Engineering.

     The fat measurement or fat depth gives an indication of the animal’s fleshing ability.

     Calves from a bull with no fat may finish too slowly in the feedlot and in females it is related to their ability to reach puberty at an early age, produce milk, rebreed and maintain a short calving interval. Excessive fat in a bull may result in reduced fertility if not managed properly. Extremely lean (high cutability) and extremely fat (low cutability) carcasses are not desirable. We should look for moderation.

     Overall carcass muscling can be determined by looking at the ribeye area. Ribeye area is influenced by body weight and the heaviest bull often has the largest ribeye, so the score should be weight adjusted?

     Marbling is an important consideration in determining quality grade. Again, there can be large differences between and within breeds. Management (feeding) only slightly affects marbling and it is predominantly genetically influenced, although certain implant strategies may also have a marked effect on marbling and intramuscular fat deposition. In value-based marketing, marbling has merit on its own, but must be considered in combination with other carcass traits. The most desirable carcasses are choice grade or higher, which takes into account marbling.

     The importance of production and carcass trait information is very significant. Producers who can provide this to clients or potential buyers will have a greater opportunity for increased profits than those who continue to breed their calves with a disregard for, or an understanding of their animals genetic potential.

     When a consumer goes in to purchase a new pickup, they go to a dealer with an understanding of what they are after. Much of this is based on performance and service records provided by consumer reports or word of mouth (reputation). The dealer unfolds for their benefit a history of the model, specifications, testimonials and other relevant information in an effort to convince them of the necessity to own that particular vehicle. This is marketing. The more information provided, the greater the likelihood a purchase will occur from him. Ranchers and cattlemen can learn from this example. Provide good solid information to your customers and if it is a quality product, they will return because of the opportunity for profit.

     Building a solid herd with sound genetics is not a random event. It requires using all the tools available to produce an animal that will meet today’s consumer demand. It also requires the ability to change and continually look for opportunities. By knowing the potential of your herd you will be more able to make management decisions that will maintain or enhance profitability in a very competitive industry.