Visual scores and linear measurements of feeder steers as predictors of subsequent performance and carcass composition



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Texas Tech University


A major concern of the feedlot industry is the sorting of feeder cattle into groups which will result in beef carcasses with uniform quality and cutability characteristics. Several methods have been used for sorting feeder cattle, many of which do not consider those factors which are responsible for differences in quality and(or) cutability of beef carcasses. These methods have resulted in diverse groups of cattle being fed together which ultimately yield some carcasses that are overfinished and have poor yield grades and others that are underfinished and have undesirable quality grades.

Two factors which have been used in the sorting of feeder cattle and are used in the USDA feeder grading system are frame size and degree of muscling. Frame size affects the length of time on feed required to reach a certain quality grade. Degree of muscling is related to carcass cutabilty. Further, since it would be impractical to make objective measurements of frame size and degree of muscling on all feeder cattle coming into the feedlot, it is necessary to determine the usefulness of visual appraisal in their sorting.