180 Head Super American Bull Sale

Thursday-March 22, 2018-1:00 pm

Briggs Ranches-Bloomington, TX -13 miles south of Victoria, TX

Broadcast LIVE on www.DVAuction.com

180 Bulls Sale

90 Performance Tested, “Genomic Enhanced” Brangus Bulls  

60 Performance Tested, “Genomic Enhanced” Santa Gertrudis Bulls

10 Genetically Designed “Super American” 1/2 SG x 1/2 Brangus Bulls

10 Star 5 SG X Hereford Bulls


The National Beef Quality Audit: What it means for Eared cattle

Over the past 6 months or so the results of the most recent National Beef Quality Audit (funded by your Beef Check Off dollars and conducted by several land grant agricultural universities) were presented and explained (first at the NCBA meeting and later in the press). The audit was conducted last year and I would encourage you to go to the website http://bqa.org/audit.aspx and read all the results, many of which are positive but some less so. The concept of auditing the beef product of the cattle industry is not new, the idea originated in the early 1990s, and the audit has provided data that have allowed the industry to make significant positive changes in the way we produce, handle and market our product for today’s consumer.

Nolan Ryan Carcasses

Nolan Ryan Carcasses

This past Audit included face to face interviews with government or allied industry (agribusiness), retailers, food service, packers and feeders. All were asked how they defined “quality” based on their rating of seven specific quality attributes. These attributes were 1) How and Where the Cattle were Raised; 2) Lean, Fat and Bone; 3) Weight and Size; 4) Cattle Genetics; 5) Visual Characteristics; 6) Food Safety; and 7) Eating Satisfaction. They were also asked to provide quality related details and practices that are important to them. Finally they were asked a “willingness to pay” and a “best-worst” ranking for the industry for these seven quality attributes.  The table below indicates the ranking of these attributes for each group.

Ranking of Attributes by Interview Group for Quality Attributes (High to Low)
Allied/Govt Retailers Food service Packers Feeders
Food safety Food safety Food safety Food safety How and where raised
Eating satisfaction Eating satisfaction Eating satisfaction Eating satisfaction Weight and size
Cattle genetics How and where raised Lean, fat and bone Lean, fat and bone Cattle genetics
Weight and size Visual characteristics How and where raised How and where raised Lean, fat and bone
How and where raised Weight and size Visual characteristics Cattle genetics Food safety
Visual characteristics Lean, fat and bone Weight and size Weight and size Eating satisfaction
Lean, fat, and bone Cattle genetics Cattle genetics Visual  characteristics Visual characteristics


The closer you get to the end product the higher food safety and eating satisfaction are in the list of quality attributes (as they should be) and cattle genetics is in the top three only twice for the Government/Allied Industry types and the Feeder classification. In an overall weighted ranking, genetics is fifth, behind Visual Characteristics and tied with Weight and Size. Food Safety is three times as important and Eating Satisfaction is twice as important as Cattle Genetics as an overall quality attribute.

When asked to define Eating Satisfaction, the top two most frequent descriptions by the Allied Industry/Government and Retailers were tenderness and flavor. Retailers indicated that the amount of marbling desired to mean “USDA Select or higher” and about half used “predominately black hide” to describe the desired visual characteristic quality attribute. Of particular interest was that 13% of retailers interviewed (no mention of which ones or how many pounds of beef were sold) reported “not Bos indicus”. Whether or not that means no Bos indicus or not 100% wasn’t asked but should have been. The primary reason for this response when asked was “toughness associated with Bos indicus beef” which is why some purchase product from the Midwest and not Texas. Even though this was at the bottom of their list of rankings, it seems that some work needs to be done here to show these folks how much the Brahman and Bos indicus influenced breeds have improved tenderness in their product.  Brahman was one of the second breeds in the US to have a Tenderness EPD and my own research over the past 20 years with many of the Bos indicus influenced breeds and crosses has shown average shear force to be very acceptable.

When Packers were asked about Cattle Genetics, about half defined this quality attribute as “having a black hide” and about one in four as having the “genetic potential for marbling” or “quality grade”. I disagree with the findings of the Audit though when they say that “Based on these frequently mentioned attributes by packers, it could be concluded that packers prefer black-hided cattle that grade USDA Choice or better”.  Of the Packers interviewed, 88% participated in branded beef programs and half or more of those interviewed indicated that requirements should include marbling, hide color, hump height and yield grade. It is interesting that hump height should be included since work done by Dr. Don Franke at LSU a few years back concluded that there was no genetic correlation between hump height and tenderness in Brahman cattle but maybe the word hasn’t gotten to the Packers yet. In their definition of Visual Characteristics and at the bottom of their list of concerns, 29% of Feeders indicated “predominately black hide” and 12% indicated “no eared cattle”. This discrimination against Brahman or Bos indicus cattle may have been well deserved at one time but not now.

The refrain of preferring predominately black hided cattle echoes throughout this audit as if the color of the hide truly represented anything about the eating experience of the meat it covers. How many breeds of cattle are black hided now? It is easier to count those that are not: Charolais, Hereford, Red Angus (the only beef breed that matches marbling in Angus but is discriminated against in CAB), Brahman, Braford, and Santa Gertrudis. In one of the presentations a slide indicates that for Cattle Genetics one of the top three answers (across market sectors) was “primarily British”. I never saw that response from any sector in the Audit report. It may have been assumed by the authors that most black hided cattle were primarily British but it sort of leaves out a lot of non British breeds that ought to have been included that will grade Choice.

There are other parts of this Audit, including the Carcass Quality Survey and Instrument Grading Assessment (new to this Audit) and the Quality Enhancement of the Seedstock, Cow/Calf and Stocker Sectors. The increase in percent Prime and Choice over previous Audits is noted as is the similarity between instrument grading and human grading. Beef Quality Assurance practices and principles are being followed and more folks are interacting with their veterinarians in a timely manner. This is good for all in our industry.

The good news is that much of the audit shows all segments prefer the type of cattle being raised by Eared breeders and commercial Eared cattlemen. All want a good eating experience, adapted cattle raised in a healthy environment, cattle that have been treated humanely and beef that is safe to eat. And if we look at the other details expressed about cattle genetics; lean fat and bone; and visual characteristics, Eared cattle fit. They will grow fast and efficiently in the feedyard, will be healthy and profitably, will provide a product that is acceptable in carcass weight, ribeye area and fat thickness, will quality and yield grade (Select or better, 3 or better), be tender, safe and provide an excellent eating experience. Don’t let anyone tell you different!