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Carcass factors analyzed in National Beef Quality Audit

published: October 20th 2017
Five National Beef Quality Audits have been conducted since 1991. Results of the sixth have been released. Data were collected from 30 federally-inspected fed-cattle beef packing plants in 16 states on 9,106 carcasses. Some notable findings were:
•Percent Choice and Prime was 71%, compared to 61% in 2011, and was 49% in 1995, the low point in the audit;
•Yield Grade averaged 3.1, slightly less lean than the 2.9 in 2011;
•Average fat thickness was 0.56, compared to 0.51 in 2011;
•Average ribeye area was 13.9 sq in. compared to 13.8 in 2011;
•Average hot carcass weight was 860 lbs. compared to 824 lb in 2011, and exactly 100 lbs heavier than in the first audit in 1991.
Only 0.3% of carcasses were below 600 lb, but 12.4% were above 1000 lbs. Carcasses outside those ranges have typically been price discounted. However, some premium brand programs have raised allowable weight without penalty to 1050 lbs. Carcasses of Yield Grade 4.0 or higher are typically discounted; 14.5 % of carcasses in the Audit were Yield Grade 4.0 or higher. Even though 71% of carcasses graded Choice or Prime, 12.4% of those were Yield Grade 4.0 or higher and so would receive some discount.
Instrument evaluation is being used increasingly for both Quality and Yield Grades. The Audit found close agreement between instrument and traditional evaluation done visually. Every Audit has estimated opportunity lost from quality problems involving Quality Grade, Yield Grade, carcass weight, hide/branding, and offal. Adjusting all Audits to 2016 prices, the loss in 2016 was $49/carcass compared to $63 in 1991. However, except for 1991, losses reported for most Audits were similar, ranging from $47 to $54.
For more information on the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit, visit http://

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