Supporting Science

Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) in beef cattle: Complicated threat to health and productivity in multiple beef industry segments

M.G. Thomas et. al; Colorado State University et. al

Three page summary describing challenges of PH and needed research in the beef industry is followed by scientific discussion of 1) cattle health and disease, 2) genetics and genetic evaluation, 3) management recommendations, and 4) needed research.

Field-testing $Beef in purebred Angus cattle

Anderson, K.; T. Brink, M. Gardiner and S. Hands

Related reading:  That much better?   

Cattle are much better now than in 2004, when the American Angus Association released its beef value ($B) index, which combined EPDs for feedyard and carcass traits with economic measures. Breed average $B then was +$23.79; now 3x or 4x higher, this study set out to see if today’s Angus cattle are that much better. Results say they are.

Factors increasing quality grades in U.S. fed cattle

P. Dykstra, Beef Cattle Specialist, Certified Angus Beef LLC

Related reading: Why quality grades are improving

The U.S. fed beef supply features near record-high quality, supported by annual 5.5-lb. increases in carcass weight, but made most effective by genetic progress through Angus influence and overall greater selection for higher marbling. With herd expansion underway, some wonder if quality premiums can continue in a marbling-rich product mix. The market will likely keep rewarding premium quality, as without it beef demand would entirely fail due to the competing and much cheaper proteins. The industry must reduce cost while fostering that which consumers prefer.

Yield grading: History, issues and opportunities

T. Lawrence, West Texas A&M University

Related reading: Beef yield grade opportunities detailed

We continue to use a beef carcass yield estimation system developed from a small population of cattle of a biological type that no longer exists to predict red meat yield of cuts from carcasses that are increasingly more variable in genetic type and management. We apply that estimate to carcasses that weigh beyond the inference of which it was designed and we have ignored the opportunity to develop new yield estimates afforded by camera grading. Leadership within the beef community must decide if the status quo is acceptable, or if improvement is warranted.

The scientific basis of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand specifications

P.D. Bass, Certified Angus Beef LLC

Related reading: Documented beef quality

For all the talk of fads and changing consumer habits, what makes a good beef eating experience is the same today as it was 40 years ago. This research report details – and updates – the science that still defines the ideal carcass. It combines 127 published scientific articles to help explain the technical basis for the brand’s third-party-evaluated criteria.

Recent trends: Beef quality, value and price

 J. Tatum, Colorado State University

Related reading: Increasing the odds for beef

Consistently providing consumers with a pleasurable eating experience at a compelling price is the core of beef’s value proposition. Consumer tracking data  suggest that “taste” continues to be the number-1 attribute valued by a majority of consumers when purchasing food and the primary reason many consumers express a preference for beef compared with other types of meat.

Determination of the effect of branding on consumer palatability ratings of beef strip loin steaks of various quality levels and ground beef of various lean points from different subprimals

T.G. O’Quinn, Kansas State University 

Related reading: Opening eyes to the brand

Most published reports on beef palatability differences are the result of “blind” consumer testing in which panelists are not informed of the product type before evaluation. However, in “real-world” settings consumers are aware of the brand, grade, and numerous other factors before they ever take their first bite. This study determined the effect of branding on consumer perceptions of steak and ground beef palatability and the palatability-related value associated with CAB® and Angus branding.

Cross-category indulgence: Why do some premium brands grow during recession?

T. Mark et. al, University of Guelph, et. al 

Related reading:  Premium beef a crossover success

In the 2007-’09 Great Recession past studies suggested people would cut back to lower priced products. University of Guelph (Ontario) business and economics professor Tanya Mark says sales should have decreased “for any premium brand.” Because sales steadily increased for the premium Certified Angus Beef ® brand through those years and after, Mark and international colleagues set out to discover why.

Sensory evaluation of tender beef strip loin steaks of varying marbling levels and quality treatments

C. Corbin, et.al, Texas Tech University et. al

Related reading: Given tenderness, marbling is key

The study of why we eat beef keeps pointing past tenderness. Given only certified tender strip steaks that varied in marbling and juiciness, a carefully chosen panel of 120 consumers said flavor is where it’s at. Sensory evaluation research, as part of a joint project among Texas Tech, Utah State and Mississippi State universities, scored the strip-loin steaks to get at the role of taste fat in consumer appeal.

Genetic basis for heat tolerance in cattle

M. Rolf, Oklahoma State University 

Related reading: Hot topic, cool solutions

Heat stress is a multi-faceted challenge that not only causes production losses, but is also an important animal well-being issue that merits consideration in management and breeding programs. Management interventions should be used wherever possible, but beef producers should also consider genetic approaches for improving heat tolerance. This paper examines the available scientific research on the topic.

Best practices for managing heat stress in feedyard cattle

T. Mader, Mader Consulting LLC

Related reading: In the cool of spring, plan for the heat of summer

These guidelines were developed based on published research information as well as practices known to be effective in managing and mitigating heat stress in feedyard cattle. They are intended for producers, managers, veterinarians, and nutritionists to use during times when weather conditions are conducive to heat stress.

Changes in the ground beef market and what it means for cattle producers

N. Speer, et. al, Western Kentucky University

Related reading: The ground beef market and price signals  

This white paper explores and outlines some of the important dynamics
around the ground beef category. It addresses the ways in which the beef industry has responded to market signals around ground beef, exploring the economics and efficiencies associated with meeting the growing demand for ground beef within the current structure.

Retail and foodservice marketing trends for beef

B. Harsh, et. al, Oklahoma State University 

Related reading: We still want beef

Even when price skyrockets and incomes are tight, people still love beef. A study of the major consumer databases shows people are willing to pay more for good beef, even though they may demand more convenience and tools to help them prepare it. As the beef industry continues to place greater emphasis on end-user needs and desires, it’s increasingly important to recognize these trends at the foodservice and retail level.

Should beef quality grade be a priority? 

Jillian Steiner and Dr. Scott Brown, University of Missouri

Related reading: Quality builds future for beef 

This study aims to provide insight on the importance of beef quality as part of a rebuilding strategy by differentiating beef demand for various quality types including USDA Prime, USDA Choice/Branded, USDA Select, and the Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression procedures were used to estimate single demand equations for each quality category, producing monthly own-price, cross-price, and income elasticities.

Effects of the 60-d window around the time of weaning on subsequent quality grade and eating quality of beef

J. Ahola, Colorado State University

Related reading: Marbling matters as weaning time approaches

Elevated feed costs and increased concerns over the effect of beef production on the environment will further pressure marbling deposition in cattle to be a more energy efficient process. Thus, the industry must place increased emphasis on management efforts, particularly those prior to arrival at a feedyard, that promote intramuscular fat deposition. This paper reviewed research data associated with these processes.

External influences on North American beef production: How will the cattle feeding industry adapt? 

P. Anderson, Midwest PMS, LLC

Related reading: From ‘happy accidents’ to intentional beef quality 

After decades of slow change, the North American cattle and beef industries are undergoing rapid transition. Farming and food production are no longer local industries serving local markets but are part of a global marketplace with scaled opportunities and risks. Individual cattle producers are subject to external influences to a greater degree than ever before and the collective responses to these forces will shape the industry and determine its future.

Selection for marbling and the Impact on maternal traits

J. K. Smith and S. P. Greiner, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Related reading: Marbling, maternal cows work

It may be easier to explain why you don’t have marbling in a herd than it is to get it. Some say that’s why some producers say high marbling is for “terminal” cattle, because they don’t make good mamas. You can’t have both in the same herd. That’s just not true, according to a new research paper, “Selection for Marbling and the Impact on Maternal Traits,” by Virginia Tech Extension animal scientist Scott Greiner and graduate student Jason Smith.

The relationship between subcutaneous fat and marbling

R. Maddock, North Dakota State University

Related reading: Where back fat, marbling and money meet

Cattle feeders often judge the amount of marbling inside the ribeye by guessing fat thickness just under the hide as finished cattle near their marketing date to packers. Putting on too much back fat means lower carcass yields and higher costs of gain, whereas lack of marbling results in lower carcass value and generally lower consumer eating satisfaction. Otherwise, the two forms of fat are not closely related, yet they can each be managed for the best outcome.

Breeding programs from a cattle feeder’s perspective

J. Tom Brink, J & F Oklahoma Holdings, Inc.

Related reading: More than one path to cattle profit

Feeding 1.6 million head of cattle each year has lead Tom Brink to the following conclusion: Planned crossbreeding is not the problem. Planned straight breeding is not the problem. Breeding cattle without any consistent plan is the problem.

Consumers, business and breeding systems: Charting the beef industry’s path

N. Speer, Western Kentucky University

Related reading: Beef industry’s path charted

The cornerstone of prosperity for any industry depends on final consumer demand. All dollars flowing into the industry are ultimately derived from consumers purchasing whatever is produced by assorted enterprises within the industry. However, facilitating consistent production of the right kinds of products at competitive prices is highly challenging. The beef industry is becoming more consumer-centric. This paper provides some insight into various causes of shifting market signals over time, discusses new dynamics at work within the business environment, and provides some framework around the outlook for future impact upon the beef industry’s value chain.

Defining and quantifying Certified Angus Beef ® brand consumer demand

L.Zimmerman and T. Schroeder, Kansas State University 

Related reading:  News release 1, News release 2, News release 3 

Demand for Choice beef follows a similar trend as that for the CAB brand, but it’s not identical. This index, updated in 2013 with new discussion and data, is the first of its kind to break out the Certified Angus Beef brand demand for comparison, and it shows positive signs for cattle producers and the greater beef industry. Demand has risen over time and that translates back to higher prices paid to those who hit the CAB target.

Genetic aspects of marbling in beef carcasses

A. Herring, Texas A&M University 

Related Reading: Genetics and marbling in beef

The goal of this paper is to review the genetic aspects of marbling in beef
carcasses.  It is not meant to be an exhaustive review of the literature in regard to all relationships involving marbling with other production and carcass traits. However, it is meant to review several of the major studies around the world that could have direct genetic implications on production of beef carcasses in the United States. 

Southern Carcass Improvement Project review

J. Tom Brink, Gardiner Angus Ranch 

Related reading: SCIP to the premiums 

Southern cow-calf producers who incorporate high-value Angus genetics into their herds can help themselves and the entire beef supply chain, according to two years of results from the Southern Carcass Improvement Project demonstration. High-grading, high-value cattle can be created in one generation from a Bos Indicus-based cowherd with average or lower carcass genetics, and producers can earn higher prices at weaning or as yearlings as the U.S. beef supply becomes more aligned with consumer demand.

Effects of nutrition and management during the stocker phase on marbling score and quality grade

C. Krehbiel, et. al  ; Oklahoma State University

Related reading: Stocker strategies affect value

 An estimated 76% of calves spend some time as stockers, and since marbling is a lifetime event, what happens then plays a key role in subsequent beef quality grade after finishing. This white paper for Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) evaluates the body of research in the area and finds pathways to profit that maintain consumer satisfaction.

Understanding grid marketing: How quality grades and grid conditions affect carcass value

P. Anderson, Ag Knowledge Services

Related reading: Know your cattle, grid conditions

Commodity cattle are priced by weight class, sex or average carcass grade, but some are worth a lot more or less. Indeed, some producers carve out a reputation, a kind of brand for their consistently high-quality cattle akin to that of Mercedes-Benz®, Apple® or Rolex®. They capture value through grid marketing, which may seem risky to producers who are new to retained ownership or only market once or twice a year. It helps to know how grids work and how your finished cattle will perform.

Crossbreeding: Considerations and alternatives in an evolving market

N. Speer, Western Kentucky University 

Related reading:  Executive summary

Some of the most profitable beef cattle ranches operate well-managed cowherds that systematically implement crossbreeding. Conversely, some of the least profitable try to practice crossbreeding, but without sufficient management and marketing focus often fail to beat simpler, straightbred alternatives. Despite decades of educational efforts that positioned crossbreeding in beef cattle as “a free lunch,” surveys show many producers are in effect leaving it on the table. This warrants a detailed examination of the reasons for the “disconnect” between a research-proven concept and acceptance as a commercial cowherd application.

Effect of time of birth within the spring calving season on performance and carcass traits of beef calves fed in the Iowa Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity.  

G.D. Fike, et. al; Certified Angus Beef LLC

Related reading: Powerpoint 

Early-born calves have a better chance than the later born of making a profit for their owners. That’s what a 2010 study of Iowa Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity (TCSCF) data helped confirm. The analysis looked at birth date and age of Angus-Simmental rotational crossbred calves, compared to their feedlot performance and carcass traits.

Factors affecting intramuscular adipose tissue development in beef cattle

B. Johnson, et. al; Texas Tech University

Related reading: Efficient, high quality beef

It’s well-known that implants increase profit, but generally hinder beef quality. This paper highlights the process of intramuscular adipose tissue (marbling) deposition in beef cattle and how different growth promoting compounds can affect that development in feedlot cattle.

Effect of health treatments on feedlot performance, carcass traits and profitability of beef calves fed in
the Iowa Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity.

G.D. Fike, et. al; Certified Angus Beef LLC 

Related reading: Healthy cattle, healthy profits

Research continues to prove the benefits of avoiding illness in the feeding phase. The latest report on nearly 50,000 head of cattle shows $190 net difference between cattle treated twice and those never treated. That’s due to major differences in feedlot and carcass performance and affected by health protocols at the ranch.

Effect of hide color and percentage Angus on feedlot performance and carcass traits in beef calves.  

L. Corah, et. al; Certified Angus Beef LLC

Related reading: Powerpoint

To determine the effect of hide color (n=47,747) and percentage Angus (n=30,743) on feedlot performance and carcass traits, data on calves from 19 states and fed at 18 Iowa feedlots in the Iowa Tri-County Steers Carcass Futurity (2002-2009) were analyzed. All calves received a common diet, similar implant and health program and were sorted and harvested when visually determined to have one cm of fat cover.

Feedlot performance and carcass traits for Southeast or Midwest calves.

D. Busby, et. al; Iowa State Universtiy and Certified Angus Beef LLC

Related reading: Powerpoint

For decades, cattle from the southeastern U.S. have sold at a discount compared to cattle from the Midwest. Data says they deserve better, according to a beef cattle specialist with Certified Angus Beef LLC. An eight-year study shows that a higher percentage of Angus-type calves from the Southeast qualified for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand. That could be due to an age difference, but the study shows a distinct and widening health advantage over Midwestern calves, too.

Producing flavorful beef

J.D. Tatum; Colorado State University

Related reading: Marbling governs beef flavor

Great taste is the primary reason consumers frequently make beef their food of choice for a pleasurable dining experience. Research conducted to examine consumers’ preferences for various protein sources (beef, chicken, fish, pork, shellfish) has shown that a pleasurable eating experience is the number-one driver of protein preference, whether dining at home or in a restaurant (NCBA, 2006).

Effect of nutrition and management practices on marbling deposition and composition

S. Duckett; University of Georgia, Athens

Related reading: Stacking management traits for marbling

Everything that happens and everything you feed cattle affects their performance and carcass value at harvest. Although marbling is among the highly heritable traits at .37, making significant genetic progress possible, .63 of final marbling depends on environment, nutrition and management.

The relationship between marbling and other EPDs with implications when making beef cow herd breeding and management decisions 

T. Marston; Kansas State University

Related reading: Cows that work, calves that grade 

Marbling should be part of balanced selection. This scientific review shows there is actually a positive correlation between marbling and cowherd-friendly traits, like birth and weaning weight.

The value of marbling in consumer acceptance of beef 

L. Corah; Certified Angus Beef LLC

Related reading: Evocative, emotive marbling

In 1925, the USDA implemented the quality grading system to address consumer confusion related to meat quality. Since that original role, marbling has become an important component of meat quality in both the domestic and the global marketplace.  

The effect of cattle disease on carcass traits

R.L. Larson, DVM, PhD, ACT

Pricing cattle on the basis of carcass merit has caused the veterinary profession to reevaluate the cost of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and other diseases of feedlot cattle. The cost of disease when cattle are sold on a live-weight basis is confined to death loss, treatment cost, and reduced live weight. When cattle are sold on a carcass merit basis, disease has the potential to affect not only carcass weight, but also the amount, location, and ratio of muscle, fat,
and water.

Strategies for managing marbling in beef cattle 

R.L. Larson, DVM, PhD, ACT

Pricing cattle on the basis of carcass merit has caused the veterinary profession to reevaluate the cost of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) and other diseases of feedlot cattle. The cost of disease when cattle are sold on a live-weight basis is confined to death loss, treatment cost, and reduced live weight. When cattle are sold on a carcass merit basis, disease has the potential to affect not only carcass weight, but also the amount, location, and ratio of muscle, fat,
and water.

Implant strategies for high quality grade beef production

R. Pritchard; South Dakota State Universit

Related reading: Marbling myths debunked

Growth promotants administered to cattle as implants are powerful tools that increase the efficiency of beef production. These products improve ADG by as much as 20%, improve feed efficiency by 10 to 15%, and increase carcass weight substantially at a common age or days on feed. When cattle are harvested at a constant body weight, carcasses from implanted cattle have a greater proportion of lean and less fat than occurs in carcasses from non-implanted cattle.

Nutritional and management factors affecting marbling deposition

L. Berger & N. Pyatt; University of Illinois

Related reading: High proprionate glow 

The purpose of this paper is to review our current understanding of how nutritional and management factors affect marbling deposition while maintaining acceptable yield grades. Lipid deposition is believed to follow a set hierarchal pattern of omental, peripheral, subcutaneous, intermuscular, and intramuscular. However, this dogma may be a result of more controllable
factors rather than biology alone.

Characterization of Certified Angus Beef ® steaks from the round, loin, and chuck

Nelson et. al, Oklahoma State University

Related reading: Defining the CAB difference

Beef carcasses (n = 150) of A-maturity
were selected randomly to determine baseline shear force and sensory panel ratings, assess variation in tenderness, and evaluate mean value differences between
Certified Angus Beef (CAB), commodity Choice, and Select steaks. Three steaks were removed from the triceps brachii (TB), longissimus lumborum (LL), gluteus
medius (GM), semimembranosus (SM), biceps femoris (BF), and quadriceps femoris complex (QF), and assigned to Warner-Bratzler shear (WBSF) and sensory
panel analyses.

On Target

Decide Sooner

While many of you are in sire buying mode this time of year, more are deciding whether this year’s bull calves retain the ability to become sires. Castration at birth is ideal, but catching them on day one can be a challenge in extensive operations. Castration at branding or turnout offers a balance between handling ease and minimizing calf stress.

Calving seasons of the mind

Winter came early for much of cow-calf country, and now calving season is at the gate. Even those who call it “spring calving” often start in January, but if you’re not out checking a heifer, this is a good time of year to catch up on reading. Calving dates and “housing” options for the herd were explored in a 2019 Nebraska Beef Report article by Terry Klopfenstein and others, who evaluated March, June, or August calving dates on the range, or two July calving systems in year-round confinement or in semi-confinement with grazed corn stalks from fall to April weaning.

Cause and effect

We sometimes associate cause and effect without knowing the real link, or as an academic buzz phrase has it, “correlation does not equal causation.” A quick search provides a humorous example. Did you know ice cream sales and shark attacks are highly correlated? While true in a broad sense, the actual reason for similar seasonal trends is that hot weather brings greater ice cream consumption as well as more swimming along beaches where sharks lurk.

Balance vs. the trade-off

One of the big challenges of livestock judging is explaining “balance” to a new evaluator. As we attend county fairs, state previews and junior nationals, we’ll hear the term used to describe cattle in nearly every class. After the judge remarks on the calf’s balance, they’ll follow up with a collection of terms that support their view of balance.

Weaning diet options

Weaning diet options by Justin Sexten, Ph.D. Spring calving herds, depending on rainfall and temperatures, may be weeks or months away from weaning. For many operations, that will bring the challenge of feeding weaned calves for a short transition period. That’s when...

Better than average

Better than average by Justin Sexten, Ph.D. Few producers strive for average—from cow productivity to cost reduction, we all want to be better than that. Yet half of every herd is below its own average, so the bar we compare against is important for context. As the...

Too much, too early

Too much, too early by Justin Sexten, Ph.D. Fall- and spring-calving herd managers don’t often find themselves facing the same decision as those who buy calves for backgrounding, but this is one of those times. Should you implant the calves and if so, what product...

On Target: The growing requirements

Beef cattle genetic power keeps moving up. Just look at the trend for pre- and post-weaning growth potential across breeds. Look at the continued improvement in quality grade across the industry. Some say that growth increase has come at the detriment of the cow herd, increasing feed and forage requirements beyond what the ranch can maintain. But steer carcass weights peaked at 930 lb. in fall 2015, not maintaining their historic 5-lb. annual increase as predicted. While carcass weights vary seasonally, they have declined annually since 2015 and trend lower in 2018.

On Target: Why ‘veggie meat’ won’t replace beef

Lately the news is overrun with features on how we humans plan to shift away from meat as we’ve always known it to plant protein alternatives. Personally, I refuse to call it meat; vegetables and legumes in a meat-like form perhaps, but meat it is not.

On Target: Early path to quality beef

You know the role health and nutrition play in feedlot performance, carcass quality grade and profitability. Yet many readers challenge the idea that these benefits can be realized at the ranch, unless they retain ownership beyond the farm or ranch gate.