Marbling and Muscling in Beef Cattle
Southwest Nebraska News
Marbling and muscling in beef cattle are important to producers’ bottom lines. Marbling, or intramuscular fat, determines USDA quality grades, while muscling determines yield grades. Having an acceptable balance between both traits can increase the value of the beef carcass.
Creating a balance between marbling and muscling can be challenging. Ultrasound technology has become a popular way to measure intramuscular fat and muscling in live animals. This is important in helping producers identify ways to improve the traits. Prior to the technology, this information was only available after harvesting cattle. USDA quality graders measured carcass marbling with a visual score, while yield graders used a grid to measure ribeye size, an indication of muscling.