? Understanding the categories at Sale Barn

Help Support CattleToday:


Well-known member
Mar 21, 2004
Reaction score
Edison, Ohio
Our sale barn has the following categories for heifers and cows:
Choice Heifer
Select Heifer
Commercial and Utility Cows
Canner @ Cutters Cows
Along with other self explainatory categories. Who determines which class the aninal will go in? What are the criteria for each of the above categories?
While I am at it. One of the other locale barns has a bull and butcher bull category. What constituents a butcher bull over a bull?
Just trying to learn. In the past I have sold all I wanted for beef or breeding stock. I seriously need to cull this year.
These are based off of the USDA Quality grades.They are in order from highest to lowest Prime,Choice,Select,Standard, Commercial, Utility,Canner,Cutter. These Grades are based on the amount of marbling present in the meat. Specifically inspectors look at the carcass (ribeye) and assign a grade for each carcass. The top three grades usaully end up in restraunts and stores, the bottom end grades end up in hot dogs, etc. I am not positive on this but I think the middle two grades end up at institutions, etc. These grades have

People with a trained eye can estimate the quality of carcass that a live animal will have. They then put them into categories as you are describing as the price they will ultimately bring when slaughtered will depend upon quality grades among other things.
Roger, the best advice I can give you is to ask your local market operator these questions.

That said, the answer to most of your questions is that the category will be determined by the highest value which will be determined by the buyers at the sale. I assume these categories you are talking about is something that you see in the market reports?

If so, you won't ever have to worry about choosing one of those categories for the cattle you sell. You may get to choose whether to run your bulls with the tested bulls or the killing bulls, or your cows with the stock cows or killing cows, but you can't make somebody buy them for that specific purpose.

I guess what I'm trying to figure out how to say in a rambling, roundabout way is actually another question. Are they worth more dead than alive? The buyers will let you know. Once again though, its always a good idea to talk to your market operator for more specifics.

Latest posts