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Column: Performance plus quality adds up for Angus producers

You can’t have it all. Do you want efficiency or quality? Make up your mind.

Hold on there—data from 12,000 cattle enrolled in the Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) Feedlot Licensing Program (FLP) show that you can have it both ways.

“Performance does not have to be achieved independent of quality,” says Gary Fike, CAB feedlot specialist. “We continue to gather data that disproves old philosophies that Angus cattle will grade but not grow.”

Fike sorted data into four groups based on quality, using different Certified Angus Beef â (CAB) acceptance rates: low (0% to 9%), medium (10% to 19.9%), high (20% to 29.9%) and very high (30% and higher). He compared production traits among the different groups.

Average daily gain (ADG) and feed conversion remained the same across the board.

“It does not take more feed or days on feed to get cattle to reach Prime or Choice quality grades,” Fike says. “If you start with the right genetics, cattle can make the grade without extra inputs.”

CAB acceptance rates increase with amount of Angus influence. On average, 15% of the black-hided cattle in the harvest mix qualify for the brand. Known Angus-sired calves, however, reach 27.5%, while those with unknown-breed sires qualify at a lower 11.3% rate.

The same is true for cows. Straight Angus cows earn a 28.4% acceptance rate, with their closest contemporaries being Angus-based cows at 19.5%.

“Black-hided animals don’t automatically qualify for CAB,” Fike notes. “Even having high-percentage Angus cattle isn’t a guarantee, but it’s a good step toward reaching Certified Angus Beef â acceptance.”

All cattle in the study came into the feedlots weighing nearly 700 lb. and left averaging 1,200 lb. Carcass weights and dressing percentages were not significantly different among all groups.

“The difference showed up in cost of gain,” Fike says. “The cattle with the greatest ability to earn premiums also cost the least per pound of gain.”

The group achieving greater than 30% CAB required the least feed investment, at 47.56 cents per pound of gain, while those achieving less than 10% CAB acceptance cattle cost the most, at 50.65 cents. The two middle groups cost of gain averaged 48.59 cents/lb.

“The data tell us that aiming for a quality beef target makes economic sense,” Fike says.

This article contains information from the latest in a series of Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) technical bulletins called “Black Ink Basics.” Past volumes of the bulletins can be found on the web at or by contacting Lance Zimmerman at (330) 345-2333 or [email protected].

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