Industry At A Glance: Yield Grade Trend Over Time

Whatever the cause, there’s clearly been an increased percentage of cattle crossing over into the upper threshold of yield grades since around 2000.

Nevil Speer

September 26, 2013

2 Min Read
Industry At A Glance: Yield Grade Trend Over Time

One of the key questions that occurred during a panel discussion at this summer’s Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) annual meeting surrounded the change in USDA Yield Grade (YG) within the slaughter mix over time. Specifically, there’s been a marked increase in YG 4s and 5s that began roughly around the year 2000. The trend suggests some questions about the beef industry’s relative efficiency.

Some of the BIF discussion on the topic focused on the economic incentives that currently exist within the marketing system. Most notable is that the discount for YG 4s and 5s remains relatively muted.

That fact, coupled with relatively limited discounts for heavyweight cattle, indirectly incentivize cattle feeders to feed cattle to heavier weights. In an environment of limited supply, that’s a favorable scenario; longer feeding periods mean slower turnover and reduces the pressure to find and purchase replacements.

USDA Yield Grade Percentages

Whatever the cause, there’s clearly been an increased percentage of cattle crossing over into the upper threshold of yield grades.

Amidst that discussion, two key questions arise. One, what factors will change the economic incentives that currently exist driving this trend? And, two, what implications does the trend have upon the industry’s competitiveness with pork and poultry; in other words, is the industry chasing weight in lieu of efficiency?

How do you perceive the YG trend within the industry and subsequent implications? Will the trend significantly reverse in the near future or is this a new normal? Leave your thoughts below.


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About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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