Quality Beef

Quality Beef By the Numbers aims to boost producer profits

This year’s drought has taken its toll on the livestock industry which has sold off thousands of animals because feed is too costly.  A program at the University of Missouri may help these producers rebuild their herds with animals that produce more of the high quality grades of beef that consumers are demanding.

Quality Beef by the Numbers is a university and industry joint project to boost the supply of Choice and Prime grade beef produced in Missouri and neighboring states. The program utilizes the best genetics, production practices and management techniques to increase the percentage of cattle that grade at the two highest levels.  Selling better beef will put more profits into the pockets of producers, said Mike Kasten, program director.

“This is the perfect opportunity for producers, who have been hurt by the drought, to tap into the latest technologies and the strongest markets as they rebuild their herds,” said Kasten.  “Producing a high quality product is where they need to be.  If you’re not involved in a program like this you’re going to find out you’re way behind the competition.”

Mike Kasten, project director for Misosuri Beef by the Numbers, Scott Brown, research assistant professor of agricultural and applied economics, and Dave Patterson, professor of animal science.

Shift in Consumer Tastes

According to recent studies, consumers are willing to pay more for USDA Prime than average grade steaks, Kasten said. That willingness to pay has not gone unnoticed by packers or feedlots, which are looking to buy more quality cattle and will pay premiums prices to producers for those cattle.

A conference describing the project will be presented Aug. 30 in Columbia, Mo.

Working with the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) on the project are Irsik and Doll Feed Services Inc., Garden City, Kan.; Pratt Feeders LLC, Pratt, Kan.; Accelerated Genetics, Baraboo, Wisc.; Genex Cooperative Inc., Shawano, Wisc.; and Select Sires MidAmerica with offices in Louisville, Ky. and Logan, Utah.

Sysco Foods, a national company that distributes food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, and the USDA will participate in a panel discussion during the Aug. 30 program, as will representatives from two of the nation’s major meat packing companies, Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., and National Beef. Representatives from Certified Angus Beef and Certified Hereford Beef will also participate in the panel discussion.

Partnership of Expertise

In the project, CAFNR will contribute scholarly expertise in reproductive and genetic technologies, statistical analysis, and measurement tools for evaluating economic outcomes.  The AI industry will bring their experience in breeding and genetic management and improvements in reproductive efficiencies.  Feed service companies will add best practice techniques in feeding and management of high-quality cattle.  Cattle associations will furnish expertise in the development of informational and marketing pieces.

The implications for higher profits in the cattle industry could have a significant impact on Missouri which ranks third in beef cow inventory at 1.865 million head.  Missouri cattle and calf receipts totaled $1.4 billion in 2010, ranking third among all Missouri commodities.

CAFNR has been researching techniques that contribute to the Quality Beef by the Numbers program at its Thompson Research Center, near Spickard, Mo.  Last year there, 31 percent of steers graded Prime. The national average for Prime grades at processing plants runs just over three percent, said Scott Brown, CAFNR research assistant professor.

Details are available at: www.quality-beef.com.