How to Choose
the right

This poster will help you pick the right type of meat when you go to the grocery store.

Tibial Hemilmeli (TH)

Affected calves are born with twisted rear legs with fused joints, malformed or missing tibis, have large abdominal hernias and/or a skull deformity. DNA test available to identify carriers. It affect Shorthorn, Maine-Anjou, Chianina

Pulmonary Hypoplasia with Anasarca (PHA)

Underdeveloped heart and lungs, marked increase in calf size caused by fluid retention (anasarca) of fetus. DNA test available to identify carriers. It affects Shorthorn, Maine-Anjou, Chianina

Ideopathic Epilepsey (IE)

A neurological disorder in which affected calves have seizures. DNA test available to identify carriers. It affects Hereford

Arthrogryposis -Multiplex (AM)

Many environmentally caused forms appear but one form is inherited as a simple recessive trait. The joints of all four legs are fixed symmetrically and a cleft palate is present. AM in Angus includes twisted malformation of spine and fixed leg joints. DNA test available to identify AM carriers. It affects Charolais, Angus


At least three types of dwarfism documented in cattle and thought to be caused different simply inherited recessive genes. It affects Angus, Hereford, Brahman, Dexter

Hypotrichosis (Hairlessness)

Partial to complete lack of hair. Hair grows in and falls out so affected animals may have varying appearance over time. DNA test being validated to identify carriers. It affects Hereford


Light sensitivity causing open sores and scabs. Liver function is also affected and animals may suffer from seizures. Inherited as simple recessive. DNA test available to identify carriers. It affects Limousin

Osteopetrosis (Marble Bone)

Long bones are solid and without developed marrow. Bones are brittle and break easily. Calves are usually born dead 2 to 4 weeks pre-term. DNA test available to identify carriers in Red Angus. It affects Angus, Red Angus, Holstein

Hydrocephalus -Internal  -Neuropathic Hydrocephalus(NH)

Excessive fluid in brain ventricles (internal) or in cranium (external). DNA test available to identify NH carriers. It affects Hereford, Many other breeds, Angus

The way to choose the right type of beef meat is to look for Always select steaks that are a bright cherry red in color.

A quality grade is a composite evaluation of factors that affect palatability of meat (tenderness, juiciness, and flavor). These factors include carcass maturity, firmness, texture, and color of lean, and the amount and distribution of marbling within the lean. Beef carcass quality grading is based on (1) degree of marbling and (2) degree of maturity.


Marbling (intramuscular fat) is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean. Graders evaluate the amount and distribution of marbling in the rib-eye muscle at the cut surface after the carcass has been ribbed between the 12th and 13th ribs. Degree of marbling is the primary determination of quality grade.

Degrees of Marbling

Each degree of marbling is divided into 100 sub units. In general, however, marbling scores are discussed in tenths within each degree of marbling (e.g.,Slight 90, Small 00, Small 10).

Grade Marbling Score -Prime +Abundant 00-100 Prime °Moderately Abundant 00-100 Prime -Slightly Abundant 00-100 Choice +Moderate 00-100 Choice °Modest 00-100 Choice -Small 00-100 Select +Slight 50-100 Select -Slight 00-49 Standard +Traces 34-100 Standard °Practically Devoid 67-100 to Traces 00-33 Standard -Practically Devoid 00-66

The economically important carcass and live traits in swine are live weight, dressing percent, fatness, carcass length, muscling, USDA grade and percent muscle.

Live Weight — Market hogs do not vary in live weight as much as beef cattle and can be subjectively estimated with more accuracy. The normal range is 190-270 pounds with an average of 245.

Dressing Percent — Dressing percent is highest of the three meat animal species. Due to the fact that pigs are only monogastrics. Dressing percent of market hogs with adequate condition should grade choice. The normal range is 68-77 percent with an average of 72.

Fat Depth — Last rib fat depth is measured at the last rib and is the primary factor in determining carcass grade. The tenth rib fat is measured between the 10th and 11th and is also used in calculating percent muscle.

Muscling — The degree of muscling of a hog is considered when grading market hogs and pork carcasses. Three degrees of pork carcass muscling are recognized in the pork grading standards.

Muscle Score 1– Thin (Inferior)
Muscle Score 2 – Average
Muscle Score 3 – Thick (Superior)

USDA Grade — USDA grade is determined based on quality indicating characteristics of the lean and expected yield of the four lean cuts (ham, loin, picnic shoulder and Boston butt). The following equation is used to estimate the grade of barrow or gilt carcasses. USDA grade=(4 x Last Rib Back-fat thickness, in.)–1 x muscle score

The muscle scores in this equation are: thin=1, average=2, and thick=3. Exceptions to this equations are that carcasses with thin muscling cannot grade U.S. No. 1 regardless of last rib fat depth (LRFD) and carcasses with 1.75 inches or more of LRFD cannot be graded as U.S. No. 3 regardless of muscling.

Percent Muscle — A more accurate and precise method of assessing differences in carcass yield of lean red meat. The factors used to predict percent muscle include hot carcass weight (HCW), loin eye area (LEA), and tenth rib fat depth (10RFD). The following is an equation used to estimate pounds of muscle containing five percent fat.


Blood warts (Melancholic tumors)

Moles or skin tumors. Increase in size with age. Tumors heavily pigmented and contain hair. Injury causes depigmentation. Common in Duroc and Hampshire.

Brain hernia

Skull fails to close and brain protrudes. Generally lethal.

Cleft palate

Palate does not close. Harelip results. Generally lethal.t.

Gastric ulcers

Erosion of the epithelial lining of the stomach. Generally in the esophageal region.

Hemophilia (bleeders)

Slow clotting time. Death results from slight wounds or from navel cord hemorrhage.


Crooked spine behind shoulder.


Fluid on the brain. Brain cavity much enlarged..

Lymphosarcoma (Leukemia, lymphoma)

Malignant tumors of the lymph nodes with increased lymphocite count. Stunted growth and death before 15 months of age.

Motor neuron disease

Distinctive loco-motor disorder of nursery pigs, characterized by inability to coordinate muscle movements and slight paralysis.

Oedema (myxoedema, dropsy, hydrops)

Abnormal accumulation of fluid in tissue and body cavities. Possibly associated with a thyroid defect..

Pseudo-vitamin D

Indistinguishable from non-genetic deficiency (rickets) lack of vitamin D resulting from deficiency of calcium or insufficient exposure to sunlight. The most noticeable effect is bowing of the limbs.

Rectal prolapse

Protrusion of the terminal part of the rectum and anus.

Persistent frenulum

A close attachment of the prepuce to the body by a mucous membrane resulting in inadequate protrusion of the penis and inability to breed.

Screw tail (kinky tail)

Flexed, crooked, or screw tail caused by fusion of caudal vertebrae.

Swirls (hair whorls)

Hair forms a cowlick or swirl on neck or back.

Wattles (tassels, bells)

Fleshy, cartilaginous appendages covered with normal skin and suspended from the jaw.

  • Prime grade is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (broiling, roasting, or grilling).
  • Choice grade is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime, suited to dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts, such as those from the rump, round, and blade chuck, can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if "braised" — roasted, or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.
  • Select grade is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts (loin, rib, sirloin) should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.
  • Standard and Commercial grades are frequently sold as ungraded or as "store brand" meat.
  • Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed product.

Comment Stream