Breaking down carcass value

John Maday

A beef carcass today is worth about $190 per hundredweight, but that total, of course, represents an average value for all components of the carcass, from tenderloins and strip steaks to 50 percent lean trimmings and even bones.
Meat scientist Ty Lawrence, PhD., who directs West Texas A&M University’s meats lab and Beef Carcass Research Center, broke down the value of those carcass components last week during an event Merck Animal Health hosted to update media representatives on the use of their Zilmax feed additive in feedyards. Lawrence also outlined how use of performance technologies can increase yield of certain retail cuts, helping add value to the beef carcass.
Lawrence explains that on average, a beef carcass produces 69.2 percent lean cuts, 13.8 percent trimmable fat and 16.8 percent bone.
The loin, which accounts for 9.92 percent of the carcass by weight, represents 22.7 percent of its wholesale value. The other high-value primal, the rib, accounts for just 5.57 percent of carcass weight but 14.4 percent of its value.
The “grind” portion of the fabricated beef carcass, including 90/10, 80/20 and 50/50 lean/fat trim, accounts for the largest percentage of edible cuts on a weight basis at 18.22 percent. The grind represents 13.4 percent of carcass value.
The round and chuck account for 15.9 and 13.95 percent respectively of carcass weight and 19.8 and 17.5 percent of value.
Lawrence went on to explain how using Zilmax, a beta agonist feed additive that increases lean-meat yield in cattle during the final 20 days of feeding, contributes to the value of individual wholesale and retail beef cuts. He used Holstein steer carcasses for his example, as these cattle – typically light-muscled compared with beef-breed steers – benefit significantly from use of beta agonists. The figures are based on fabrication tests involving over 200 Holstein carcasses.
In the rib complex, Holstein steers fed Zilmax, on average, produce 1.96 more pounds of ribeye roll, 0.86 pounds of blade meat and 0.15 pounds of back rib, for a total of 2.97 pounds worth $8.44 per carcass. In the loin primal, using the product adds 4.96 pounds worth $18.47 per carcass.
In the round primal, using Zilmax adds 10 pounds of yield valued at $21.95, while in the chuck it adds 4.96 pounds valued at $9.49 pounds. On average, the product adds a total of 24.15 pounds of yield to the Holstein steer carcass with a fabricated value of $67.14 to the packer. The packer, Lawrence says, pays the feeder for the 24 pounds of extra carcass weight – about $46 at today’s carcass price of around $1.90 per pound. The extra fabrication provides a net return of over


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