Cow-calf producers should be aware of the final quality grade of the feeder calf they send to the feedlot. Unfortunately, the pipeline of information from the USDA grade at the packing house to the typical cow-calf operator is not very direct.
Beef quality grades and consumer interest do impact the cow-calf producer, according to Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist.
Cole recently polled consumers about their perceptions and preferences in beef purchases. At that same time, he was able to educate people about beef quality grades.
"My props were not actual cuts of beef, instead I used the USDA steak pictures with various degrees of marbling ranging from slight through moderately abundant. The corresponding beef grades range from USDA Select through Prime," says Cole.
Visitors looked at the pictures and made their picks. Not surprisingly, those choices varied a lot depending on the gender, age and economic means of the person making the selections.
Younger women mostly picked the Select grade (slight marbling). Men, regardless of age, sought more marbling, pointing to the Choice and some the Prime steak pictures. The Choice grades include marbling scores of small, modest and moderate. Prime beef requires abundant degrees of marbling. Others said the choice depended solely on the cost.