Following a petition led by NCBA, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service announced earlier this month that dentition and documentation of actual age will now be used as additional methods for classifying the maturity of carcasses. Dentition is a method for measuring the age of cattle based on their teeth. Estimates are more than 95% of U.S. fed steers and heifers are less than 30 months old based on dentition assessments at slaughter.
     Prior to the change, dental age was not considered when USDA quality grades were assigned. Due to premature skeletal ossification, as many as 7.2% of carcasses produced by fed steers and heifers were classified as B-maturity or older. A significant portion of these cattle were known to be less than 30 months of age, but the carcasses were classified as B-maturity or greater based on physiological indicators and therefore significantly discounted and undervalued.
     A beef industry working group formed in 2014 and composed of representatives from the cow-calf, feeder and packer segments conservatively estimated incorrect classification of carcasses costs the industry nearly $60 million annually. Carcasses incorrectly classified were sold at an estimated discount of nearly $275 per head.
     NCBA suggested allowing dentition or documentation of actual age will ensure more carcasses are eligible for USDA quality grades and allow producers to maximize the value of each animal.
     “By basing carcass quality grades on the most current scientific data available, we will improve grading accuracy and ensure that producers are getting maximum value out of each head,” said NCBA President Craig Uden.



The 12th class of the Kansas Livestock Association Young Stockmen’s Academy graduated December 1 at the close of the KLA Convention. KLA Communications Program Manger Scarlett Hagins says applications for the 2018 class are due December 15.