Dentition the New Tool: USDA to use Dental Information to Determine Age of Carcasses

Many cattlemen are selling cull cows this time of year, and given that revenue from the sale of late, open, aged and ornery cows make up 10-25 percent of gross income generated by a cow-calf operation, getting the most value for culls is paramount.

However, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), incorrect classification of carcasses costs the beef industry nearly $60 million annually for a whopping $275 per head.

Effective Dec. 18, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is doing something about this ongoing problem. The agency has updated its beef standards with additional methods for classifying the maturity of carcasses. With dentition and documentation of actual age, USDA will more accurately be able to identify which carcasses are eligible for USDA quality grades to fully maximize the value of each animal.

“Carcasses today are graded based on indicators of skeletal maturity,” said Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs. “These are physiological indicators of chronological age and include observation of the ossification of the bones and cartilages along the vertebral column of the split carcass.”

Read more: Tri-State Livestock News