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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Meat Safety and Quality » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #283106

Title: National Beef Quality Audit-2011: Harvest-floor assessments of targeted characteristics that affect quality and value of cattle, carcasses, and byproducts

item MCKEITH, R - Texas A&M Agrilife
item GRAY, G - Texas A&M Agrilife
item HALE, D - Texas A&M Agrilife
item KERTH, C - Texas A&M Agrilife
item GRIFFIN, D - Texas A&M Agrilife
item SAVELL, J - Texas A&M Agrilife
item RAINES, C - Pennsylvania State University
item BELK, K - Colorado State University
item WOERNER, D - Colorado State University
item TATUM, J - Colorado State University
item IGO, J - Colorado State University
item VANOVERBEKE, D - Oklahoma State University
item MAFI, G - Oklahoma State University
item LAWRENCE, T - West Texas A & M University
item DELMORE, R - California Polytechnic State University
item CHRISTENSEN, L - California Polytechnic State University
item Shackelford, Steven
item King, David - Andy
item Wheeler, Tommy
item MEADOWS, L - Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS, USDA)
item OCONNOR, M - Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS, USDA)

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/2/2012
Publication Date: 12/1/2012
Citation: McKeith, R.O., Gray, G.D., Hale, D.S., Kerth, C.R., Griffin, D.B., Savell, J.W., Raines, C.R., Belk, K.E., Woerner, D.R., Tatum, J.D., Igo, J.L., VanOverbeke, D.L., Mafi, G.G., Lawrence, T.E., Delmore, R.J., Christensen, L.M., Shackelford, S.D., King, D.A., Wheeler, T.L., Meadows, L.R., O'Connor, M.E. 2012. National Beef Quality Audit-2011: Harvest-floor assessments of targeted characteristics that affect quality and value of cattle, carcasses, and byproducts. Journal of Animal Science. 90:5135-5142.

Interpretive Summary: The National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) has been very important to the beef industry since its inception in 1991. This audit measures and reports producer–related cattle and carcass traits in the beef industry. These findings are then used as teaching tools for producer related programs, as new benchmarks for research programs, and as an assessment of the problems and opportunities that the beef industry is currently facing. There have been four previous audits conducted in the US in 1991, 1995, 2000, and 2005. These studies have shown that genetics and management of cattle have improved and where improvements could still be made. The current audit indicates that beef processors are harvesting cattle more frequently for different value-based programs than before. These processors are also segregating days or shifts of production in order to meet country of origin labeling requirements. Other trends observed in the 2011 NBQA include more black-hided cattle, more cattle identified individually, more cattle with no mud/manure present on their hides, and fewer carcasses with bruises. The NBQA-2011 was conducted to report the quality and consistency of cattle being harvested and to identify current issues that are being faced and identify the improvements that have been made since previous audits.

Technical Abstract: The National Beef Quality Audit-2011(NBQA-2011) was conducted to assess targeted characteristics on the harvest floor that affect the quality and value of cattle, carcasses, and byproducts. Survey teams evaluated approximately 18,000 cattle/carcasses between May and November 2011 in 8 beef processing facilities. Cattle identification methods were lot visual tags (85.7%),individual visual tags (50.6%), electronic tags (20.1%),metal-clip tags (15.7%), other (5.3%), none (2.5%), and wattles (0.5%). Hide colors or breed types were black(61.1%), red (12.8%), yellow (8.7%), Holstein (5.5%),brown (5.0%), gray (5.0%), white (1.4%), and brindle 1.0%). Brand frequencies were none (55.2%), 1 (40.4%),2 (4.4%), and 3 or more (0.04%) brands, and brands were located on the butt (35.2%), side (9.0%), and shoulder (2.5%). Hide locations of mud or manure were no mud/manure (49.2%), legs (36.8%), belly (23.7%), side (14.9%), top-line (11.0%), and tail region (13.7%). There were 76.2% of cattle without horns, and the majority of those with horns (71.6%) were between 0 cm and 12.7 cm in length. Permanent incisor numbers were zero (87.3%),1 (1.4%), 2 (8.0%), 3 (0.9%), 4 (1.9%), 5 (0.3%), 6 (0.2%), 7 (0.1%), and 8 (0.02%). Most carcasses (77.0%)were not bruised, 18.7% had 1 bruise, 3.4% had 2 bruises,0.6% had 3 bruises, and 0.3% had more than 3 bruises. Bruise locations were loin (50.1%), rib (21.3%), chuck (13.8%), round (7.3%), and brisket/fl ank/plate (7.5%). Condemnation item and incidence were whole carcass (none recorded), liver (20.9%), lungs (17.3%), tongue (10.0%), viscera (9.3%), and head (7.2%). Compared with the NBQA-2005, the NBQA-2011 had an increased percentage of black-hided cattle (56.3 vs. 61.1%), more cattle with brands (38.7 vs. 44.8%), and more cattle with some form of identifi cation (93.3 vs. 97.5%). In addition,there was a lesser percentage of carcasses with bruising in 2011 (23.0%) than in 2005 (35.2%), as well as a smaller percentage of carcasses with more than 1 bruise (2005 = 9.4% vs. 2011 = 4.2%). Compared with the 2005 audit, a similar percentage of the cattle were deemed 30 mo of age or older using dentition (2005 = 2.7% vs. 2011= 3.3%). The information from NBQA-2011 helps the beef industry measure progress against previous NBQA assessments and provides a benchmark for future educational and research activities.