National Beef Quality Audit 2022: Transportation, mobility, live cattle, and hide assessments to determine producer-related defects that affect animal welfare and the value of market cows and bulls at processing facilities Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract The National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA)-2022 serves as a benchmark of the current market cow and bull sectors of the U.S. beef industry and allows comparison to previous audits as a method of monitoring industry progress. From September 2021 through May 2022, livestock trailers (n = 125), live animals (n = 5,430), and post-slaughter hide-on animals (n = 6,674) were surveyed at 20 commercial beef processing facilities across the U.S. Cattle were transported in a variety of trailer types for an average distance of 490.6 km and a mean transport time of 6.3h. During transit, cattle averaged 2.3 m2 of trailer space per animal indicating sufficient space was provided according to industry guidelines. Of all trailers surveyed, 55.3% transported cattle from an auction barn to a processing facility. When surveyed, 63.6% of all truck drivers reported to be Beef Quality Assurance certified. The majority (77.0%) of cattle were sound when evaluated for mobility. Mean body condition scores (9-point scale) for beef cows and bulls were 3.8 and 4.4, respectively, whereas mean body condition scores (5-point scale) for dairy cows and bulls were 2.3 and 2.6, respectively. Of cattle surveyed, 45.1% had no visible live animal defects, and 37.9% had only a single defect. Of defects present in cows, 64.6% were attributed to an udder problem. Full udders were observed in 47.5% of all cows. Nearly all cattle were free of visible abscesses and knots (97.9% and 98.2%, respectively). No horns were observed in 89.4% of all cattle surveyed. Beef cattle were predominantly black-hided (68.9% and 67.4% of cows and bulls, respectively). Holstein was the predominant dairy animal observed and accounted for 85.7% of the cows and 98.0% of the bulls. Only 3.1% of all animals had no form of identification. Findings from the NBQA-2022 show improvements within the industry and identified areas that required continued education and research to improve market cow and bull welfare and beef quality.

published proceedings

  • Translational Animal Science

author list (cited authors)

  • Borders, S. E., Schwartz, T. E., Mayer, T. R., Gehring, K. B., Griffin, D. B., Kerth, C. R., ... Savell, J. W.

complete list of authors

  • Borders, Sydni E||Schwartz, Trent E||Mayer, Thachary R||Gehring, Kerri B||Griffin, Davey B||Kerth, Christopher R||Belk, Keith E||Edwards-Callaway, Lily||Scanga, John A||Nair, Mahesh N||Morgan, J Brad||Douglas, Jarrett B||Pfeiffer, Morgan M||Mafi, Gretchen G||Harr, Keayla M||Lawrence, Ty E||Tennant, Travis C||Lucherk, Loni W||O’Quinn, Travis G||Beyer, Erin S||Bass, Phil D||Garcia, Lyda G||Bohrer, Benjamin M||Pempek, Jessica A||Garmyn, Andrea J||Maddock, Robert J||Carr, C Chad||Pringle, T Dean||Scheffler, Tracy L||Scheffler, Jason M||Stelzleni, Alexander M||Gonzalez, John M||Underwood, Keith R||Harsh, Bailey N||Waters, Crystal M||Savell, Jeffrey W