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Article: Late maturing cattle won't grade

brandonm_13

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Here's an article I found on late maturing cattle breeds and grading. I thought it was interesting. Thoughts?


Late maturing cattle producing fat cattle that won’t grade
Staff report
DENVER: Beef buyers are facing a growing problem due to the shift to late-maturing, low-fat cattle genetics that grow rapidly without marbling.


More and more cattle fatten excessively on the outside but do not marble on the inside even after long periods of grain feeding.


This creates a high labor cost for abattoirs to trim the outside fat and yet the meat brings a discounted price.


Marbling is only created when the animal reaches its physiologically mature size. Many of today’s cattle have a physiological mature size larger than beef buyers want.


Due to the shortage of feeder cattle in the USA since restriction of Canadian cattle, cattle feeders have put cattle on feed at lighter weights than normal to keep capacity up and grain usage up.


Industrial feedyards normally do not own the cattle they feed and so are primarily interested in keeping feed consumption (sales) up.


This has resulted in the animals fattening on the outside before they reach the size required for them to marble.


Cattle-Fax in Englewood, Colorado, said the percent of Yield Grade 4 cattle continues to increase and has set a new high in Nebraska, Kansas and Texas since at least 2001.


However the percent of Choice grade cattle has remained the same in Nebraska and Kansas and has actually fallen in Texas.


Steers typically marble at around 100 pounds heavier than their mothers. With more and more cows now weighing in excess of 1500 pounds and yet slaughter weights remaining in the 1200 pound range, the natural result is fewer cattle grading Choice.


In 2005, this trend toward fewer Choice cattle appears to have worsened considerably.


Many abattoirs are growing increasingly concerned because the percent of Choice grade cattle dropped nearly 10 percentage points in Texas and Kansas this past summer.


In October, The Wall Street Journal had a long article on the negative effect the drop in marbled beef is having on top-end steakhouses.


While Choice is getting scarce, Prime grade beef is almost non-existent.


It now costs a steakhouse more than $20 to buy the dry-aged 16 ounce USDA Prime strip steak that is the upscale steakhouse cornerstone.


These steaks currently sell for between $35 and $45 cooked and served or approximately their cost to the restaurant.


Many steakhouses now are saying that the “prime beef” mentioned in their menu does not refer to the USDA grade used but is a mere advertising term and admit they have substituted USDA Choice.


They also encourage diners to order Filet Mignon or tenderloin which has a much higher margin than the New York strips or Porterhouses because it can come from any grade cattle. Tenderloin is not graded because it normally does not have marbling.


The steakhouses have also tried to lower their costs by buying smaller cuts. Unfortunately, the same shift to late maturity that is making marbling rare has made smaller framed cattle even rarer.


As a result, many of today’s ribeyes are often too large for the plate and are expected to be getting even larger in coming years.


Steakhouse chefs say that the best steaks for them are small steaks cut thick. It is almost impossible to cook a thin steak to medium rare at the 900 degree F temperatures they commonly use to shorten preparation time.


Ruth’s Chris steakhouse uses a super-hot 1800 degrees to purposely char the surface of the steak.


This surface charing does not improve the eating quality but makes the steak look different from that cooked at home. Most home ovens only reach 600 degrees. Prime beef has traditionally come by growing early-maturing English-breed cattle to physiological maturity on grass and then feeding them whole-shelled corn for 100 days to produce extreme intra-muscular marbling.


A frame 4, easily fattened, steer would be the ideal genetic package for high-end steakhouse beef.


Interestingly, the type of cattle genetics needed for Prime grade steakhouse beef are exactly what is needed for Choice grade grassfed beef.


Despite the problems large, late maturing cattle are causing their beef buyers, they still return the maximum profit to the feedlots because they maximize grain consumption and sales per head.


As a result, changing the genetic direction toward ever-larger cattle will be difficult.


Tod Kalous, an analyst with Cattle-Fax, said there are two questions the industry needed to consider.


“Can we continue to make carcasses bigger and fatter? At what point will carcasses be too big, if ever?”
 

ROB

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brandonm_13":1qzcxmgk said:
...

Marbling is only created when the animal reaches its physiologically mature size. ...

i found this statement interesting as a remember reading various articles that noted significant marbling improvements can be realized in early weaned calves on a grain based diet.

makes me wonder if the reduced marbling percentages noted in your article might be caused from a change in ration contents at the feedlots due to the excessive costs of corn and corn by-products. some smart feller once said "good genetics can be over-ruled by poor management" conversly, common genetics may be improved by good management.

ROB
 

Frankie

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brandonm_13

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I think this article is from 2006-2007. I"ll try to find it again.

I may be wrong, but I think the point of the article is that ALL cow breeds marble better or more easily when they are close to their mature weight (I know I sure did when I passed 18. I just keep marbling, and the white is surpassing the red.). If the mature weight is considerably larger, and it takes longer to reach that mature weight, then the slaughter ages should be pushed back as well, but they have not. I know you can "fatten" a calf at any age, but it may not be as efficient at a weight not as close to the breeds mature size.
 

Frankie

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brandonm_13":p025dfd7 said:
I think this article is from 2006-2007. I"ll try to find it again.

I may be wrong, but I think the point of the article is that ALL cow breeds marble better or more easily when they are close to their mature weight (I know I sure did when I passed 18. I just keep marbling, and the white is surpassing the red.). If the mature weight is considerably larger, and it takes longer to reach that mature weight, then the slaughter ages should be pushed back as well, but they have not. I know you can "fatten" a calf at any age, but it may not be as efficient at a weight not as close to the breeds mature size.

And that's where (bolded text) I disagree with them. From the links I put out, the agreement seems to be that calves start laying down marbling as soon as they're born. They must have more quality food available to them every day of their lives than they need for their day to day growth to continue to marble. Agressive implanting in feedlots can slow marbling because the implant boosts growth and that stresses the calf's ability to eat enough to grow and still marble.

I sorta think your own "marbling" is actually "backfat"; I know mine is. :)
 

KNERSIE

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If the author thinks carcasses are still getting bigger he probably was still in school in the 1980's and early 1990's.

The more us british breed breeders try and continentalise our breeds, the harder marbling and doing ability will come by.
 

ROB

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KNERSIE":17o90u4v said:
If the author thinks carcasses are still getting bigger he probably was still in school in the 1980's and early 1990's.

The more us british breed breeders try and continentalise our breeds, the harder marbling and doing ability will come by.


KNERSIE

with all due respect....that's a pretty broad stroke of a brush your painting with. not all continental breeds diminish marbling and doing ability. i can think of one in particular ;-)

ROB
 

Brandonm22

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KNERSIE":2n2psayh said:
If the author thinks carcasses are still getting bigger he probably was still in school in the 1980's and early 1990's.

The more us british breed breeders try and continentalise our breeds, the harder marbling and doing ability will come by.

Back in the 80s, (despite what the show ring was doing at the time) most commercial guys (in the U.S.) were crossing a Simmental or Charolais bull out of a 1500 lb frame 7 cow on a Hereford or Angus or baldie 1000 lb commercial cow to get a 1250 lb finished steer. Now a lot of times commercial guys are crossing an Angus bull out of a 1600 lb Angus cow to a black mostly Angus commercial cow that weighs 1500 lbs. In the last round of the MARC, the (modern) Herefords and Angus momma cows outweighed the Charolais and the Simmental's. I think Gelbviehs were the most efficient (and I know that is slap backwards from what it has been my whole life).

A steer that weighs 700-750 on grass at weaning is a real good thing; BUT he is too heavy to stocker or background so he goes straight to the feedlot. 180 days later he weighs 1200, has over a half an inch of backfat but hasn't finished yet. They can take him to 1400 lbs but if they do he will be a YG 4.
 

Brandonm22

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Frankie":3sov7vcn said:
And that's where (bolded text) I disagree with them. From the links I put out, the agreement seems to be that calves start laying down marbling as soon as they're born. They must have more quality food available to them every day of their lives than they need for their day to day growth to continue to marble. Agressive implanting in feedlots can slow marbling because the implant boosts growth and that stresses the calf's ability to eat enough to grow and still marble.

I sorta think your own "marbling" is actually "backfat"; I know mine is. :)

The Angus Assn has been pushing (or at least until the $5 corn) heavily creep feeding the calf crop, preconditioning the weaned calves in a grain program, and marketing them straight to the feedlot. That plan will maximize the marbling; BUT we know most commercial cattle are not raised that way. Most commercial cattlemen do not feed grain daily to their growing calves in Spring, summer, and fall and a lot of them are weaned to a stocker program. Smaller framed "old style" earlier maturing cattle would go to the feedlot and "finish" at 1000 - 1200 lbs even if they had not been hand fed mixed feed all of their lives. Now that all we care about is the growth EPDs (and we can hang a lot of this on Charolais and Hereford as well as Angus) those bigger framed cattle don't grade like their smaller framed forbears, especially in the traditional grass type stockering programs and if you try to hold them on the feedlot LONGER they tend to lay on too much backfat and it is much harder for them too yield because most get adjusted down on the required REA for those heavy carcass weights. I thinjk the author is right; BUT there has to be a big Choice/select spread for lbs not to pay in the end.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Frankie - I agree with you.
Also, not all breeds are the same. For instance, the Simmental cattle - a CONTINENTAL breed, matures earlier than a Hereford and I think about the same as an Angus. That may be why they are the best marbling continental breed.
 

brandonm_13

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Just for the record. I have very little back fat. It's actually on the other side. If I was killed, you wouldn't run out of bacon for a looooong time.

This is kind of off topic, but has anyone noticed that the smaller framed cattle come from smaller land masses? Dexters- Ireland, Angus, shorthorn, hereford, Red poll, Jersey, Guernsey, etc.- British, Limousin, Charolais, Braunvieh, Brown Swiss, Holstein, Piedmontese, Gelbvieh, Chianina, Romagnola, Tarentaise, Simmental, Blonde de Aquitaine, etc.- Continental countries.

I think those big continental breeds( which used to be a lot bigger) would marble just fine at whatever age is appropriate for them. If I remember correctly, cattle used to be killed at 3 years old and weighed 1-1.5 tons (and sometimes more).
 

Northern Rancher

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There's a couple breeds that do very well getting grain shoved at them from birth to slaughter-CHICKENS AND PIGS!!! Well feeding concetrates from birth on to cattle might improve marbling-will it improve the bottomline-I doubt it. Alot of the bigger cattle breeds were used as much for draft animals as for beef production in their native lands. I'm pretty sure Simmentals don't mature earliar than Herefords-I sort alot of calves every week at the yards anf I sure don't see it. The grid we sell into pays a $.14/lb premium for Prime carcasses so about $100-$110 per carcasses-a nice bit of change for sure. What is wrong with running cattle on grass till yearlings 15-16 months old then give them at short stay at the corn hotel-we average 95% AAA carcasses up here in Canada doing just that.
 

alacattleman

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Northern Rancher said:
There's a couple breeds that do very well getting grain shoved at them from birth to slaughter-CHICKENS AND PIGS!!! Well feeding concetrates from birth on to cattle might improve marbling-will it improve the bottomline-I doubt it. Alot of the bigger cattle breeds were used as much for draft animals as for beef production in their native lands. I'm pretty sure Simmentals don't mature earliar than Herefords-I sort alot of calves every week at the yards anf I sure don't see it. The grid we sell into pays a $.14/lb premium for Prime carcasses so about $100-$110 per carcasses-a nice bit of change for sure. What is wrong with running cattle on grass till yearlings 15-16 months old then give them at short stay at the corn hotel-we average 95% AAA carcasses up here in Canada doing just that.[/quote] nothing... just got to raise the kind that will do it ;-)
 

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It's not about continentals vs british breeds, its a case of horses for courses.

Typically british breeds have different strengths than continental breeds, no shame in that. I don't feel the continentals gain much from being britishised and neither do the british breeds from being continentalised.

The sad fact is that the hereford breed was almost ruined by chasing the charolais growth rate, later maturity and lean carcasses and still never quite achieved the desired effect, but instead lost many of their own strengths while gaining weakness of the other.

Similar scenarios exist for most breeds that felt the need to change, I'll leave the details for the breeders of each breed.
 

Brandonm22

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Northern Rancher":1z1mmicm said:
What is wrong with running cattle on grass till yearlings 15-16 months old then give them at short stay at the corn hotel-we average 95% AAA carcasses up here in Canada doing just that.

I agree. If the cattle can't grade on a grass stocker then feedlot program; then there is something wrong with the cattle or the way the cattle were managed (minerals, stress, disease, worms, etc??). Feeding 200 lbs of creep per calf then 5-7 lbs of grain a day from weaning to 800 lbs would improve the %age which grade Choice, CAB, and Prime; but it also covers up flaws in the genetics. As Pharo would say, give the cattle a 'crutch' and they will use it......but can the rancher make money like that.
 

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Brandonm22":ryg2qubj said:
Northern Rancher":ryg2qubj said:
What is wrong with running cattle on grass till yearlings 15-16 months old then give them at short stay at the corn hotel-we average 95% AAA carcasses up here in Canada doing just that.

I agree. If the cattle can't grade on a grass stocker then feedlot program; then there is something wrong with the cattle or the way the cattle were managed (minerals, stress, disease, worms, etc??). Feeding 200 lbs of creep per calf then 5-7 lbs of grain a day from weaning to 800 lbs would improve the %age which grade Choice, CAB, and Prime; but it also covers up flaws in the genetics. As Pharo would say, give the cattle a 'crutch' and they will use it......but can the rancher make money like that.

Sadly, not a lot of ranchers actually know how their calves perform in the feedlot and grade on the rail. Packers aren't especially interested in genetics. They'll kill and sell every animal that passes through their gates. Feeders may or may not care. They're going to do their best to buy cattle at a price that they can be profitable. Producers are the guys who have to worry about which genetics will make them money.
 

alacattleman

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Frankie":18y2vaf4 said:
Brandonm22":18y2vaf4 said:
Northern Rancher":18y2vaf4 said:
What is wrong with running cattle on grass till yearlings 15-16 months old then give them at short stay at the corn hotel-we average 95% AAA carcasses up here in Canada doing just that.

I agree. If the cattle can't grade on a grass stocker then feedlot program; then there is something wrong with the cattle or the way the cattle were managed (minerals, stress, disease, worms, etc??). Feeding 200 lbs of creep per calf then 5-7 lbs of grain a day from weaning to 800 lbs would improve the %age which grade Choice, CAB, and Prime; but it also covers up flaws in the genetics. As Pharo would say, give the cattle a 'crutch' and they will use it......but can the rancher make money like that.

Sadly, not a lot of ranchers actually know how their calves perform in the feedlot and grade on the rail. Packers aren't especially interested in genetics. They'll kill and sell every animal that passes through their gates. Feeders may or may not care. They're going to do their best to buy cattle at a price that they can be profitable. Producers are the guys who have to worry about which genetics will make them money.
you can bet that the better feedlots care
 
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