The purpose of this article is to highlight the exceptional value and profit potential created by cattle that grow fast and grade well. Cattle that grow and grade are winners at all points along the beef supply chain. Feedyard managers and packers really like these cattle, and will bid aggressively to get them.

Why? Because cattle that grow and grade are excellent performers in the feedyard and go on to create sizable premiums when sold on a carcass-merit grid. That’s a double benefit which adds real dollars to the bottom line.

Every cow-calf producer who desires top dollar for his/her calf crop would do well to incorporate both rapid growth and high quality-grading potential into each calf crop. Rapid growth and strong marbling genetics make cattle worth more to everyone who owns them.

To illustrate this point, the table above compares two sizable groups of yearling-fed steers placed on feed weighing about 800 lbs. The first group represents 151 pens (36,266 head) that weighed 1,350 lbs. or heavier when leaving the feedyard and graded 65% Prime and Choice or higher at the packing plant. These cattle are appropriately labeled high-growth, high-grade (HGG).

The second group is comprised of 113 pens (26,729 head) that finished lighter and graded lower. These steers finished below 1,300 lbs., graded 45% or less Prime and Choice, and can be aptly identified as low-growth, low grade (LGG) cattle. 

Both groups were fed in the same Five Rivers feedyards, managed the same from placement to finish, and marketed during the same period of the year. Thus, most of the difference between how these two groups performed is the result of genetics.

The HGG cattle did exactly what they were genetically programmed to do, posting excellent results in the process. The LGGcattle also expressed their lower-performance genetics via slower growth, lower quality grades, and a poor financial outcome.

The HGG cattle were undoubtedly produced by people who care a great deal about the genetics they build into their cowherds. High-quality Angus bulls, emphasizing post-weaning growth and marbling ability, represent a sizable portion of their genetic inputs. The carcass profile of these cattle alone is evidence of that.