Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
March 9, 2000

The Feeding and Consumer Segments

The feeding segment of producing and marketing beef is a very important part of any marketing plan. Many have tried to market grass-fed beef and to some extent have found a nitch in the marketing scheme for beef. However, a very large portion of today’s consumers still request a steak that has been fed grains and reached the finishing phase.

One question that is discussed frequently concerning the genetic potential of the cattle entering the feedlot is how to manage the cattle. Generally cattle with more growth potential tend to need to go on feed sooner and be maintained on a grower ration for only a short period of time. This is where the term ‘value based marketing’ becomes a major player in the end product. Marketing on the grid discounts for light, heavy and yield grade 4 carcasses. Some type of carcass merit marketing is rapidly becoming today’s tool for selling beef at the feedlot.

If we can borrow a look at what has happened in the pork industry and compare it to the crystal ball for beef in 1989 approximately 15% of the market hogs in the United States were sold on some type of carcass system. Today’s marketing method for hogs indicates that in excess of  75% are sold on carcass merit. Swine producers who have the wrong kind are experiencing problems selling their product, either selling at a large discount or not being able to sell them at all.

The beef industry currently is placing a great amount of emphasis on improved tenderness, which is generally regarded as the most important characteristic affecting the eating quality of beef. Today marbling is used in the current quality grading system as an indicator of tenderness, but this relationship is not strong. Research has shown that shear force is a more accurate sensory by humans as a predictor of tenderness compared to marbling. The development of a rapid economical method of measuring the shearing force at the processing level would be a significant breakthrough for the beef industry. This would be very beneficial to some of the continental breeds of cattle. This is due to feed out data and research results that have demonstrated that Continental X British Cross cattle often do not differ significantly in tenderness from British X British crosses even when they have less marbling.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - March 9, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT030900.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004