National Beef Quality Audit-2011: In-plant survey of targeted carcass characteristics related to quality, quantity, value, and marketing of fed steers and heifers. Academic Article uri icon


  • The 2011 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA-2011) assessed the current status of quality and consistency of fed steers and heifers. Beef carcasses (n = 9,802), representing approximately 10% of each production lot in 28 beef processing facilities, were selected randomly for the survey. Carcass evaluation for the cooler assessment of this study revealed the following traits and frequencies: sex classes of steer (63.5%), heifer (36.4%), cow (0.1%), and bullock (0.03%); dark cutters (3.2%); blood splash (0.3%); yellow fat (0.1%); calloused rib eye (0.05%); overall maturities of A (92.8%), B (6.0%), and C or greater (1.2%); estimated breed types of native (88.3%), dairy type (9.9%), and Bos indicus (1.8%); and country of origin of United States (97.7%), Mexico (1.8%), and Canada (0.5%). Certified or marketing program frequencies were age and source verified (10.7%), A(40) (10.0%), Certified Angus Beef (9.3%), Top Choice (4.1%), natural (0.6%), and Non-Hormone-Treated Cattle (0.5%); no organic programs were observed. Mean USDA yield grade (YG) traits were USDA YG (2.9), HCW (374.0 kg), adjusted fat thickness (1.3 cm), LM area (88.8 cm2), and KPH (2.3%). Frequencies of USDA YG distributions were YG 1, 12.4%; YG 2, 41.0%; YG 3, 36.3%; YG 4, 8.6%; and YG 5, 1.6%. Mean USDA quality grade (QG) traits were USDA quality grade (Select(93)), marbling score (Small(40)), overall maturity (A(59)), lean maturity (A(54)), and skeletal maturity (A(62)). Frequencies of USDA QG distributions were Prime, 2.1%; Choice, 58.9%; Select, 32.6%; and Standard or less, 6.3%. Marbling score distribution was Slightly Abundant or greater, 2.3%; Moderate, 5.0%; Modest, 17.3%; Small, 39.7%; Slight, 34.6%; and Traces or less, 1.1%. Carcasses with QG of Select or greater and YG 3 or less represented 85.1% of the sample. This is the fifth benchmark study measuring targeted carcass characteristics, and information from this survey will continue to help drive progress in the beef industry. Results will be used in extension and educational programs as teaching tools to inform beef producers and industry professionals of the current state of the U.S. beef industry.

published proceedings

  • J Anim Sci

altmetric score

  • 1.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Moore, M. C., Gray, G. D., Hale, D. S., Kerth, C. R., Griffin, D. B., Savell, J. W., ... O'Connor, M. E.

citation count

  • 60

complete list of authors

  • Moore, MC||Gray, GD||Hale, DS||Kerth, CR||Griffin, DB||Savell, JW||Raines, CR||Belk, KE||Woerner, DR||Tatum, JD||Igo, JL||VanOverbeke, DL||Mafi, GG||Lawrence, TE||Delmore, RJ||Christensen, LM||Shackelford, SD||King, DA||Wheeler, TL||Meadows, LR||O'Connor, ME

publication date

  • December 2012