ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Pets and Animals»
  • Farm Animals & Livestock

Judging Beef Cattle

Updated on October 24, 2010

The best way to gain an impression of your animal is to study him at a distance, where one can readily distinguish character and gait. A bold parader who walks freely and can stand on his feet will be a big acquisition in moving about your paddocks and will gain the greater drop of calves in your breeding herd.

Having viewed the animals parading at a distance, make your selections according to merit and place them so, paying particular attention to head character.

The head denotes character, temperament and constitution. The eyes should be full and bright, wide apart; from (he eyes lo the nostrils should be of moderate length; face well dished; nostrils wide and open which permits free breathing; the jaws should be wide and not undershot (parrot beaked); as bovines only spend limited periods in grazing daily, it is essential that they consume as much pasture as possible in that time. The poll should be well defined with ears well set on to the head which should not be too small and well covered with hair.

Having assessed head values, now study the symmetrical lines of the animal. The top line should be straight and square all over; standing firm on all four corners. Legs should be well placed and not too long, nor sickle hocked, for with this weakness the sire is usually lost to service in your breeding herd.

Bone constitution is assessed by the Cannon Bone. The legs should not be too long but built in proportion to the scale of the animal. A good bone skeleton is essential to carry the scale of meat for early maturity and weight.

Granted the animal has, a good top line, of equal importance is the underline, which should be straight and parallel with the top line.

We now move to the rear or business end of the animal. Here we see well-covered hook bones, with length and evenness of rump well carried out to the pin bones; this is a must in good beef qualities. Tail head should be well set. The tail should show good bone and not too line, for with this weakness it denotes poor bone constitution.

The thighs should be deep and well filled; twist well carried down and wide. Flanks should be well let down and fill your hand when taking hold of same. Even though flanks are not of high quality meat, they denote the depth of the high quality meat carried on the thighs and buttocks.

The loins should be well filled and arched out for this is where we gain our most valuable cuts.

Ribs should be well sprung and carried deep right down to the underline. This gives heart and lung room essential for breathing and healthy constitution.

The brisket should be full and well carried forward for this denotes masculinity and another point for good constitution.

Shoulders should be well laid in and not too prominent.

The neck should be of moderate length, muscular, with moderate crest (which increases with age), spreading out to meet the shoulders with full neck vein. A good neck and head conveys the sire's carriage, and shows what sex he really is.

Having briefly assessed some of the important points in seeking a sire, now look for fleshing qualities. Thickness of flesh and mellowness without excessive fat is what is required today in the marketing of high quality meat.

Now take a view over the top of the animal. This is the real pay load territory where the Exporter or Butcher assesses the value of your steers. Level, wide and straight throughout!

The hide should be loose and pliable, showing smoothness of quality to handle and covered with good quality hair. It should fill your hand, for a loose pliable hided animal will mature and fatten much more rapidly than a tight hided handler.

Having assessed the major points in visual judgment, what about the ancestry of your sire? The stock that stand behind him make him what he is and enables him to show such high quality characteristics. By this I mean his pedigree; for a sire without good standards of ancestry has little chance of transmitting his qualities for the improvement of your herd.

The ultimate goal of all beef cattle raising is beef production; the steer at the slaughterhouse is what keeps this vital and national industry buoyant.

Having surveyed the stud beef section of the show, I would strongly advocate that before you leave the showground, pay a visit to the fat cattle section, for this is the real business end of this great primary industry. Having seen the stock on the hoof your next mission must be a visit to the Meat Hall where one can readily see what actually lies beneath the hide.

The expression of a judge's opinion in a show does not convey that because a potential sire wins a prize he will transmit his good visual qualities to his stock. It has occasionally happened that an animal that did not attract much attention in the show ring and was ultimately sold for a mediocre sum of money has in actual progeny testing proved far more worthy than his prize winning counterpart.

In respect to raising calves as potential sires to-day, not sufficient attention is paid to culling. Because an animal has a pedigree, this pedigree is used as an excuse for the justification of such animal being retained as a sire. With excessively heavy feeding, foster mothering, the animal is prepared for a show. This excessive feeding is used to camouflage any characteristic weakness so as to try to deceive the judge and prospective purchasers; the latter who may not be so highly skilled in detecting such fraudulence may be foiled into purchasing an animal which will later prove to be a big disappointment as a business investment.

If far more castrating were universally adopted in young stock today, it would not be necessary for stud breeders to go in for excessively heavy feeding primarily for show ring purposes; for this camouflage is an economic waste if an animal cannot transmit, hold, and improve the quality of stock it produces.

Last and most important is the business of culling your herd. By this I mean the removal of animals not up to a standard of good beef character. Females should be assessed on their beef qualities, but the most important factor is very often overlooked; has the cow sufficient milk to nourish and promote growth in the early life of her calf? No matter how much quality a cow shows she is of very little value commercially unless she can reproduce a worthy specimen. It is better to spey this animal, fatten her and send her to the abattoir.

One of the most important phases of beef cattle raising is the individual who owns and manages his business. The mere purchase of high quality sires and females does not in itself ensure that those high standards will be maintained. To achieve a continuance of the high standards possessed by the parent stock requires that the individual breeder assess and carry out genetical principles correctly, and, above all, manage his property and pastures well- for, after all, good pastures and watering facilities are most important in the raising of prime early maturing stock.

A good cattle raiser is born and it is his natural aptitude that makes him a genius in the art of good cattle husbandry. After all, no matter what practical knowledge we may possess, behind the scenes it goes much deeper than can be orally expressed; the word is instinct, something which guides our subconscious actions in this direction.

Index to Points in Breeding Stock

1. Forehead and face. 2. Muzzle. 3. Nostril. 4. Eye. 5. Ears. 6. Poll. 7. Jaws. 8. Throat. 9. Shoulder. 10. Chest. 11. Bosom (or Brisket) 12. Fore ribs. 13. Back ribs. 14. Crops. 15. Loins. 16. Back. 17. Hooks. 18. Rumps. 19. Hindquarters. 20. Thigh.
1. Forehead and face. 2. Muzzle. 3. Nostril. 4. Eye. 5. Ears. 6. Poll. 7. Jaws. 8. Throat. 9. Shoulder. 10. Chest. 11. Bosom (or Brisket) 12. Fore ribs. 13. Back ribs. 14. Crops. 15. Loins. 16. Back. 17. Hooks. 18. Rumps. 19. Hindquarters. 20. Thigh.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      cant see pic

    • KFlippin profile image

      KFlippin 7 years ago from Amazon

      Well written hub with useful info on judging and breeding cattle.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)