USDA Beef Quality Grading — Does your beef make the grade?

by HI-GLC on October 4, 2011

Do you keep track of the quality and yield grades of your sold beef? Knowing how your meat grades out is important to your bottomline. Carcass quality is based on: (1) the degree of marbling, and (2) the degree of maturity. Below are links to Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension Service, describing beef carcass and cut quality.

Understanding USDA Quality and Yield Grades
(Prime, Choice, Select, etc.; and Yield Grades 1-5)

Marbling Chart (great pictures showing the degree of marbling).
Marbling is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean. Graders evaluate the amount and distribution of marbling in the ribeye muscle at the cut surface after the carcass has been ribbed between the 12th and 13th ribs. The degree of marbling is the primary determination of the quality grade (Prime, Choice, Select).

Quality grading is voluntary, so not all carcasses are quality graded. But if your focus is producing beef within a certain USDA quality grade, you can request that the carcasses be graded, with results provided to you. You can then use the information to adjust your grazing system and animal production cycle to optimize the quality.

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