National beef quality audit-2011: Harvest-floor assessments of targeted characteristics that affect quality and value of cattle, carcasses, and byproducts

R. O. Mckeith, G. D. Gray, D. S. Hale, C. R. Kerth, D. B. Griffin, J. W. Savell, C. R. Raines, K. E. Belk, D. R. Woerner, J. D. Tatum, J. L. Igo, D. L. VanOverbeke, G. G. Mafi, T. E. Lawrence, Jr J. Delmore, L. M. Christensen, S. D. Shackelford, D. A. King, T. L. Wheeler, L. R. MeadowsM. E. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


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/flank/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 identification (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

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5135-5142
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Audit
  • Beef quality
  • Carcass


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