Submitted to: Arkansas Cattle Business
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: August 19, 2003
Publication Date: October 1, 2003
Citation: AIKEN, G.E., LOOPER, M.L. 2003. LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE WITH ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGY. Arkansas Cattle Business. 39(10):24-25. Technical Abstract: Ultrasound has been used for evaluating meat animals for over thirty years, but it has only been in the last few years that its use has become widespread as a tool for measuring genetic improvement in carcass traits of live beef cattle. Measurement of these traits in the live animal allows beef producers the ability to make selection and management decisions. The true benefit of this technology is the ability to provide images of the ribeye at the proximate location where the future carcass will be ribbed and graded at the packing plant. The technology has become extremely useful as a selection aid to predict carcass traits and, therefore, has valuable application in the cattle industry as it moves further from weight-based to value-based marketing. Research has been initiated to develop models that can be used to predict yield and quality grades of cattle for a given number of days in the feedyard. The objective of the project is to provide a management tool that can be used at the conclusion of grazing and prior to transport to the feedyard. Breed type, gender, body weight, ultrasound measures of fat thickness, rumpfat, ribeye area, and marbling are being recorded at the conclusion of grazing and evaluated as factors contributing to eventual carcass quality and yield. Because the project is in an early phase, the list of factors will go through considerable modification to produce a model with the accuracy needed to make it economically reliable. Ultrasound will likely continue to be useful as a research tool for improving genetics, increasing beef quality, and generating more efficient and productive management systems that will benefit the quality of beef produced by Arkansas cattle producers.