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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Beef Quality Corner -- Beef Quality Challenge Contest

Livestock Update, July 1998

Bill R. McKinnon, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

The first "Beef Quality Challenge Contest" is underway and offers an excellent learning opportunity for all involved in the beef industry. A Beef Quality Challenge Contest insert was included in the June issue of BEEF magazine. The contest consists of evaluating several photos of four pens of fed steers. The average weight and days on feed for each pen is provided. Participants then estimate:

  1. Pen average daily gain
  2. Percent death loss for each pen
  3. Dressing percent average for each pen
  4. Percent of the pen that graded USDA Choice and Prime
  5. Percent of the pen that graded USDA Standard
  6. Percent of the pen that graded USDA Yield Grade 1 and 2
The goals of the Beef Quality Challenge are to "provide participants with and background on the factors that influence the value of the cattle as they move through the feedlot and packing sectors and to create a forum for discussing potential solutions to beef quality challenges." The variability in the above traits causes dramatic inefficiencies within the industry and has led to increased consumer dissatisfaction. Whether participants can accurately estimate the above information is less important than learning the extent of the variability and understanding the importance of these measurements of efficiency.

The contest is being conducted by Texas A&M University in cooperation with BEEF magazine, the Texas Beef Council, and Merial. Additional photos and video clips are available on the internet at the following sites: and
Entries in the contest are due by July 15, 1998.

Participation in the Beef Quality Challenge by local cattle producer groups could be an excellent educational activity. Initially, educational programs could be conducted to help participants understand the factors impacting feedlot and carcass performance. After the contest results are announced, there would an opportunity to review the data on each pen of cattle.

Additional copies of the contest information and photographs are available by calling (512) 335-2333 while supplies last. A limited number of copies are also available in the Animal and Poultry Sciences Department at (540) 231-5253.

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