Expert gives clues about beef quality and production

John B. Levasseur, Van Osdell, Mary Ann  |  10/22/2009 6:27:21 PM

News Release Distributed 10/22/09

BOSSIER CITY, La. – Marbling is the No. 1 way to determine quality in a cut of meat, said LSU AgCenter county agent Johnny LeVasseur at the latest monthly Lunch and Ag Discovery program at the AgCenter’s Red River Research Station.

“The finer the white specks and the more you have, the better the quality of the meat,” LeVasseur said. “Marbling adds flavor.”

Beef should be a cherry red, not dark red, LeVasseur added. He also suggested looking for uniformity in paired cuts.

The agent explained yield grades are determined by carcass weight, external fat thickness, rib-eye area and kidney, pelvic and heart fat. He said the rib-eye runs down the back of the cow and is the most tender, most valuable part of the meat.

The bigger the rib-eye is, the bigger the cow’s muscle, LeVasseur said. When the rib-eye area is smaller, the percentage of fat increases, and the yield gets worse.

LeVasseur said 19 percent of Louisiana’s beef cows are produced in northwest Louisiana, with Natchitoches Parish as one of the leading producers in the state followed closely by Caddo Parish. The total value of the beef cattle industry in Louisiana in 2008 was $381 million.

LeVassuer said the most popular method of beef cattle reproduction in Louisiana is the cow-calf system. Cow-calf herds generally are small, numbering 20 to 50 cows, he said.

The calves are sold at weaning when they weigh between 600 and 700 pounds and “go out West” on wheat pastures to graze through the winter, he said. When they are between 850 and 900 pounds, they are led to the feed lot to grow and begin conditioning for processing.

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Writer: Mary Ann Van Osdell

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