The adoption of distillers grains feed product from the ethanol industry is making the nation’s beef supply better, higher quality and recent numbers show the trend first noted last fall is continuing.
While many debate the pros and cons of corn or grass fed beef, the nation’s cattle producers continue to do what they do best which is provide tasty, nutritious and relatively inexpensive beef and with the help of a distillers grain, a co-product of making ethanol fuel from corn.
A research review by Certified Angus Beef’s Larry Corah and Mark McCully released last fall point to improvements in genetics and ration changes made possible in part by increased supplies of DDGS as drivers for the improved quality.
Critics of corn-fed beef have been having a field day in recent years thanks to the like of folks like Michael Pollan – author of Food Rules – who argue grass fed beef is superior to those who are finished on corn prior to going to market. This despite abundant research that shows the differences between conventional, organic, and grass fed beef regarding nutrient composition and nutritional quality are few and insignificant in terms of human nutrition.
The nation’s beef quality has continued its rise in recent weeks, with nearly 65% of federally graded cattle grading Choice — an increase compared to 60.1% reported July 2009, according to Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB).
The numbers add to a trend ending a 30-year decline — a trend that’s likely to continue, said Larry Meadows, chief of USDA’s meat grading and certification branch.
“There has been a huge progression of selection tools to allow breeders to make improvement on carcass traits impacting both quality and yield grade potential,” according to Dr. Sally Northcutt, American Angus Association® genetic research director.
Selection tools like those offered by the American Angus Association now include high-accuracy genomic-enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPDs) incorporating Association pedigree, carcass and ultrasound performance data, with genomic profile results to produce EPDs for carcass.