Carcass Ultrasound for Feedlot Cattle
Ultrasound in the feedlot offers an opportunity to help producers recognize which grid environment offers the most profit potential for their feeder cattle. Scanning feedlot cattle at extended periods before harvest still allows sufficient time to make crucial management decisions and reduce carcass discounts, increasing profitability for the producer.
Predict Carcass Yield and Quality
Ultrasound measurements can be very accurate predictors of carcass yield and reasonable predictors of carcass quality. Ultrasound estimates of marbling and backfat during the feeding period can be used to predict carcass merit. Research data suggest an increase in backfat thickness overtime is positively correlated to initial backfat thickness and subcutaneous fat on a live carcass is directly related to carcass yield grade. Ultrasounding feedlot cattle allows managers to predict carcass quality and yield grade before slaughter.
Ultrasound offers producers a chance to utilize precision marketing of individual animals. Each animal has an optimal slaughter date (days on feed) that maximizes profit, and studies have shown that there is an average loss in return of approximately $1 for each day that actual slaughter differs from the optimum.
Research studies have evaluated the advantage of sorting cattle to different fed-cattle markets using ultrasound technology and growth curves and concluded that the returns on sorting are between $11 and $25 per head. An experienced ultrasound technician can scan 80-100 head per hour at a cost of about $4-$8 per head, resulting in higher returns.
Identify Non-producing Animals
One of the best uses of ultrasound in the feedlot is identifying animals that will not produce no matter how they are handled. Feedlot software models can help to identify animals that are likely to produce Yield Grade 4+ carcasses before money is wasted on feeding them out. Feedlots can utilize carcass ultrasound to predict how long to feed an individual steer or heifer.
Feedlot profitability can be increased by using individual animal data from carcass ultrasound to accurately eliminate animals that are likely to drain feed resources with little chance of producing dollars on the market.
Identify Superior Genetics
Ultrasound is still the best tool around to guide a breeding program that will produce quality animals likely to do well in any feedlot setting and meet consumer expectations. No matter how they are sorted, cattle will only grade as well as their genetic potential allows. Using ultrasound to indentify superior genetics guarantees an edge on profit.
Improve Feedlot Efficiency
Chute-side ultrasound measurements in the feedlot can enhance that innate value by grouping calves into marketing pens and eliminating the animals that will ultimately cost more than they garner.
Benefits of Carcass Trait Ultrasound for Feedlot Cattle
Evaluate future carcass composition
Predict carcass quality and yield grade
Sort cattle into different fed-cattle markets
Ability to predict individual animal performance
Identify non-producing animals
Waste less feed and money
Improve feedlot efficiency