Producer- and Packer-Related Problems


(1) To relate the economic loss of parasite infestations in livestock.

(2) To show the impact of mishandling livestock on quality and quantity losses of their carcasses.

(3) To demonstrate antemortem procedures to correct losses that occur in livestock related to the producer or packer.

National Beef Quality Audit

Improvements in quality cannot be made if a benchmark is not available to see where and what the problems are and where the efforts on quality improvements can be made. There have been six such surveys conducted (NBQA-1991, NBQA-1995, NBQA-2000, NBQA-2005, NBQA-2011, NBQA-2016 and they have had a major impact on our understanding of changes needed in the beef industry.

Top ten quality challenges for the fed-beef industry, NBQA-2000

RankingQuality Challenge
1Low overall uniformity and consistency of cattle, carcasses, and cuts
2Inappropriate carcass size and weight
3Inadequate tenderness of beef
4Insufficient marbling
5Reduced Quality Grade/tenderness due to growth promoting implants
6Excess external fat cover
7Inappropriate USDA Quality Grade mix
8Too much hide damage due to brands
9Too frequent and severe bruises
10Too frequent liver condemnations
Source: National Beef Quality Audit – 2000

NBQA comparisons for USDA grade traits

USDA Yield Grade
USDA Quality Grade
Select 96Select 93
Select 90
Select 85
Select 79
Select 86
Adjusted fat thickness, in.
Ribeye area, in2
Kidney, pelvic, and heart fat, %1.92.3
Carcass weight, pounds
Marbling scoreSmall 70
Small 40
Small 32
Small 23
Small 06
Small 24
MaturityA 64A 59
A 64
A 66
A 60
A 69
Source: National Beef Quality Audit–2016

Yield grade and quality grade characteristics of steer and heifer carcasses

USDA Yield Grade3.13.1
Adjusted fat thickness, in.0.510.63
Carcass weight, pounds878.0826.2
Kidney, pelvic, and heart fat, %2.01.9
Ribeye area, in213.814.0
USDA Quality GradeChoice 08Choice 04
Overall MaturityA 59A 67
Marbling scoreSmall 67Small 77
Source: National Beef Quality Audit – 2016

Improving the quality, consistency, competitiveness and marketshare of fed-beef

Increase Red Meat Yield$50.96
Enhance Taste and Tenderness$24.45
Improve Management$18.23
Control Weight$6.46
Source: National Beef Quality Audit – 2000

Producer-related problems:

(1) Tapeworm cysts–larvae of tapeworm

Beef “measles” — cysticercus bovis

Lamb “measles” — cysticercus ovis

Pork “measles” — cysticercus cellulosae

The condition is referred to as cysticercosis

Cost — beef head ($20), beef carcass ($800)

Cause — pasture management, dog or human feces

(2) Roundworm damage in pork livers

Ascarids Ascaris lumbricoides

Cost — pork liver ($2)

Cause — unsanitary housing conditions, fecal contamination

(3) Roundworm damage in sheep intestines

Nodular disease Oesophagostomum columbianum

Cost — sheep intestines for sausage casings ($1)

Cause — failure to “worm” sheep, unclean housing

(4) Grub damage in beef carcasses

Grubs — larvae of the heel fly (ox warble)

Hypoderma lineatum

Hypoderma bovis

Cost — hide damage and carcass trimming ($10)

Cause — failure to “grub” cattle

(5) Liver abscesses in beef

Causative organism Corynebacterium pyogenes & Sperophorus necrophorus

Cost — beef liver ($5)

Cause — failure to prevent persistent rumenitis; prevented by feeding 15-20% roughage and antibiotics

(6) Flukes

Fasciola hepatica

White snail is alternative host in grass. Heaviest infestation is Texas Gulf Coast (inland 50 miles)

Cause — failure to drench cattle

(7) Hide damage due to branding, mud/urine/insects

Hides are scarred due to hot-iron branding, mud and urine, and biting/sucking insects. Decreases quality of hides for luxury items such as automobile interiors and fine furniture.

Solution: Move brands to “butt” region; provide for cleaner pens; treat with insecticides.

(8) Injection-site lesions

Caused by giving injections into top butt region of animal.

Incidence rate was 22% in mid- to late-1980’s; now about 10%.

Solution: Massive educational program led by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to inform producers about consequences of top butt injections. Now use “tent” method for administering vaccinations.

(9) Bruises


Most common35% hip40% leg48% ham
Second most common19% shoulder35% back26% back
Leading causeCrowdingLifting by woolKicking
Second leading causeHitting with wooden objectsHitting with wooden objectsHitting with wooden objects

(10) Calloused muscle

Muscle is injured, which causes it to atrophy.  Condition called muscle steatosis, which occurs in fat infiltrating the area and caused calloused muscle.

Packer-related problems:

(1) Heat prostration in swine

Cause: Swine have very inefficient processes for body heat transfer

Solution: Sprinklers in holding pens

(2) Suffocation in sheep

Cause: Sheep are easily frightened, very gregarious, will pile up and smother

Solution: Don’t pen in small places

(3) Fiery fat, splotched muscle in beef

Cause: Short-term violent excitement ruptures capillaries in fat and muscle

Solution: Hold 1-2 days prior to slaughter


Review of Material — What the student should know:

(1) An understanding of what parasites or other conditions can do to the value of livestock.

(2) That mishandling by man can cause significant losses in livestock and their meat.

(3) That simple animal husbandry practices can help prevent many product and economic losses.

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