Feeder Calf Grades: Do Better Grades Really Pay? David Gonsoulin

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Feeder Calf Grades: Do Better Grades Really Pay?

  • David Gonsoulin

  • USDA

What is a Number 1 Calf?

  • I Do not know how to describe it, but when I see one, I know it.

  • It has to be a good doing calf.

  • It has to be a black hided, stand up, big boned, straight backed type animal.

  • It has to be Medium to Large Frame with thick muscle.

  • If it fits the order, it will do.

Number 1?

Is this a Number 1?

Is this a Number 1?

Are these 1 ½?

Do I Get Paid For What I Have?

Current Feeder Cattle Grades 1979 -2006

Frame Size

  • Refers to the animals skeletal size –

  • Height and body length—in relation to its age.

  • Thus frame size evaluations are related to differences in mature size.

  • Refers to weight (under normal feeding and management conditions) an animal will produce a carcass which will grade Choice.

Evaluating Frame Size

What are the Frame Sizes?

  • Large

  • Medium

  • Small

Large Frame

  • Large Frame cattle are thrifty, tall and long bodied for their age.

  • Steers grade Choice at weights greater than 1250 lbs.

  • Heifers greater than 1150 lbs

Large Frame

Medium Frame

  • Medium Frame cattle are thrifty, are slightly tall and have slightly long bodies.

  • Steers grade Choice between 1100 lbs and 1250 lbs.

  • Heifers grade Choice between 1000 lbs and 1150 lbs

Medium Frame

Small Frame

  • Small Frame cattle are thrifty, and not as

  • tall or long bodied as the Medium Frame animal

  • Steers grade Choice below 1100 lbs.

  • Heifers grade Choice below 1000 lbs

Small Frame

Frame Steers Heifers

  • Large 1250 lbs 1150 Lbs

  • Medium 1100 lbs 1000 lbs

  • Small under 1100 lbs 1000 lbs

What do buyers pay for? Summary of Sale Barns

Muscle Score Thickness

  • Thickness refers to the development of the muscle system in relation to skeletal size.

  • Thicker feeder cattle will have a higher ratio of muscle to bone when fed to the same degree of fatness and will have higher yield grades.

Muscle Grades

  • #1

  • #2

  • #3

  • #4

# 1 Muscle

Average #2

Possible Feeder Cattle Grades

  • Large Frame #1,#2,#3 or #4

  • Medium Frame #1,#2,#3 or #4

  • Small Frame #1,#2,#3 or #4

  • Inferior – This grade will include sick unthrifty cattle and double muscled cattle due to their inability to Quality grade.

Prices for Muscle


Feeder Cattle Value Determining Factors

Does Color Make A Difference? Arkansas Extension 2005

Other Factors

Throw It All Together

  • You have a Small Frame, Number 3 Muscle, Full, Red Calf with Horns.

  • Small (-16.55) Number 3 (-21.08), Full

  • (-8.05), Red Calf (-4.18) with Horns (-3.23)

  • Total -53.09

David Gonsoulin

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