The 2005 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) indicates significant progress has been made by all segments of the beef industry to improve overall acceptance of beef carcasses that enter the fabrication sections of U.S. processing facilities.

But the 2005 NBQA suggests there is still work to be done. The following 2005 NBQA nonconformities (lost opportunities) are based on a carcass base value of $130/cwt. and average carcass weight of 796 lbs.

1991 1995 2000 2005
Quality grade -$39.93 -$41.79 -$39.71 -$26.81
Yield grade -$24.60 -$10.27 -$18.32 -$20.92
Carcass weight -$3.74 -$3.85 -$2.33 -$4.94
Hide/Branding -$1.17 -$1.21 -$1.27 -$0.98
Offal -$0.76 -$0.89 -$2.07 -$2.03
Total lost opportunities/head -$70.20 -$58.01 -$63.71 -$55.68

A particular concern in the 2005 NBQA is carcass weights, which continue to climb higher. The average carcass weight in the 2005 audit was nearly 796 lbs. -- nearly 40 lbs. heavier than weights recorded in the 1991 audit. Specifically, the recent audit found the average weight for steer carcasses was 817 lbs., compared to 758 lbs. for heifers.

The number of Yield Grade 4 and 5 carcasses are up 2% from the 2000 NBQA and up 6% from the 1995 audit.

"We're not winning the war on fat. Not yet," says Oklahoma State University meats scientist Brad Morgan. "Cattle generally go to market fatter. About 15% are too fat, but still may not be marbled well enough."
-- Clint Peck