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Instrument Grading

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GLA

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During the business meeting NCBA passed cattle marketing policy requesting that, "USDA adopt the use of instrument vision grading technologies, therefore assisting the industry towards an objective, consistent system for evaluating beef quality characterestics."

In visiting with the owner of the company who is supplying the vision grading camera for the packing plants, I discovered some interesting facts, real or not.

Apparently, the USDA has already certified the camera to measure ribeye area, Yield Grade, percent retail product, backfat and tenderness. Currently, the company is working with USDA to acquire certification for the quality grade measurement.....which could happen very soon. Therefore, it seems that the ability to completely evaluate a beef carcass by use of the camera, is only a short time away.

The camera has been in use at several plants for the last few years, producing results that have not always been pleasing. Seems as though the govt. graders may have been giving us a break on YG 4's, because the percentage of YG 4's has now started to increase, with the use of the camera.

Just wonder how this new advancement is going to affect the industry? I understand the labor union and the graders are not fighting the change, since there are other supervisory jobs the graders can perform, that are not as stressful!!

GLA
 

Econ101

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GLA said:
During the business meeting NCBA passed cattle marketing policy requesting that, "USDA adopt the use of instrument vision grading technologies, therefore assisting the industry towards an objective, consistent system for evaluating beef quality characterestics."

In visiting with the owner of the company who is supplying the vision grading camera for the packing plants, I discovered some interesting facts, real or not.

Apparently, the USDA has already certified the camera to measure ribeye area, Yield Grade, percent retail product, backfat and tenderness. Currently, the company is working with USDA to acquire certification for the quality grade measurement.....which could happen very soon. Therefore, it seems that the ability to completely evaluate a beef carcass by use of the camera, is only a short time away.

The camera has been in use at several plants for the last few years, producing results that have not always been pleasing. Seems as though the govt. graders may have been giving us a break on YG 4's, because the percentage of YG 4's has now started to increase, with the use of the camera.

Just wonder how this new advancement is going to affect the industry? I understand the labor union and the graders are not fighting the change, since there are other supervisory jobs the graders can perform, that are not as stressful!!

GLA

As long as this works well, this is nothing but good for the industry. It would be interesting to have packer buyer's decisions in the cash market match up to something more objective.

I have a few questions about it and I know you probably don't have the answer but I am going to ask others who might know.

How does this measure tenderness? A computer program can be made to measure intramuscular fat, but tenderness? Do you know the name of the company that has the technology?
 

GLA

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Econ 101,

The BeefCam has been in use for 2 or 3 years in the Nolan Ryan program in South Texas. It is there that the camera is doing a tenderness measurement. Nolan Ryan even makes a guarantee as to tenderness, based on the camera measurement program. How it does it....I don't know, but that program seems to be successful.

RMS Research from Ft. Collins, CO is the company who owns the patent for the BeefCam. Go to their website www.rmsusa.com for more information.

GLA
 

Mike

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http://ansci.colostate.edu/dp/beef/2002/djv02.htm

The study done to predict accuracy of the BEEFCAM. Someone please read it and explain it to me. :wink:
 

GLA

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This research report was mainly for determining the tenderness of steaks as viewed by the BeefCam in relation to the Warner Bratzler Shear tests. The title to the research report tells you the content of the research.

GLA
 
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GLA,

PM Beef Group went with automated grading and found that the grades were lower than with manual grading. USDA graders gave packers and producers the benefit of the doubt on a close call. Video grading did not.


~SH~
 

Mike

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~SH~ said:
GLA,

PM Beef Group went with automated grading and found that the grades were lower than with manual grading. USDA graders gave packers and producers the benefit of the doubt on a close call. Video grading did not.


~SH~

Lower, as in lower yield grades? 1 & 2's?

Or lower as in, lower yield?
 
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Both Mike!

Didn't matter if it was measuring ribeye or marbling, if it was close to the line between choice/select or Y2/Y3, the manual grader favored the producer while the video grading did not. Not only that, but video imaging added $7 per head to the expense of processing. Not only that, but it was discovered that the people running the machine didn't know how to run it.

We all agreed to try it because we thought video grading would be more favorable, it wasn't.


~SH~
 

Econ101

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~SH~ said:
Both Mike!

Didn't matter if it was measuring ribeye or marbling, if it was close to the line between choice/select or Y2/Y3, the manual grader favored the producer while the video grading did not. Not only that, but video imaging added $7 per head to the expense of processing. Not only that, but it was discovered that the people running the machine didn't know how to run it.

We all agreed to try it because we thought video grading would be more favorable, it wasn't.


~SH~

How can you attest to its accuracy if you claim the people running it didn't know how to run it? Is that how you test everything, SH? Maybe you could get a job at Consumer Reports.

Who agreed to try it? Do you have a mouse in your pocket? :lol:
 

GLA

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SH,

Quote: "Didn't matter if it was measuring ribeye or marbling, if it was close to the line between choice/select or Y2/Y3, the manual grader favored the producer while the video grading did not. "

Now where the hell did you come up with that? Guess you were standing next to the grader. So, I guess this scenario is written in the graders rule book on what to do in these instances. I could believe this could happen some of the time.....but you make it sound like it is SOP!!

"Not only that, but video imaging added $7 per head to the expense of processing. Not only that, but it was discovered that the people running the machine didn't know how to run it."

Do you think this stuff runs for nothing? Guess the graders do their jobs for nothing, also. I have been in several plants, stood and watched the people running the cameras, saw the images taken and the chain keeps moving and the pictures are very good. Never saw the chain stop once because of bad pictures.
 

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I wonder what ~SH~ thinks about instant replay in the NFL.

If we were to describe what it was like when it was first used several years ago, we would paint a pretty ugly picture.
 

GLA

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OCM,

I'm sure we won't be surprised with the reply from SH. Just for the record, we are in the process of finding out more about the vision cam. The technology will change the industry.........and I'm not 100% sure.......but I sure think it is going to happen!!

GLA
 

ocm

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GLA said:
OCM,

I'm sure we won't be surprised with the reply from SH. Just for the record, we are in the process of finding out more about the vision cam. The technology will change the industry.........and I'm not 100% sure.......but I sure think it is going to happen!!

GLA

An objective grading system of any kind will change the system for the better. I was thinking, too, that if human graders habitually grade higher (and I'm not conceding the point) it might be better for producers and packers, but it would not be good for consumers. What we should be interested in is the truth, not a system that's biased toward anybody.
 
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OCM: "I was thinking, too, that if human graders habitually grade higher (and I'm not conceding the point) it might be better for producers and packers, but it would not be good for consumers."

Hahaha! You think consumers can detect the difference between a single fleck of marbling between choice and select??? Hahaha!

Try this on for size OCM. CSU conducted a side by side taste test with CHB and CAB. CHB allows select meat in their mix. Guess who won??? CHB in all four categories.

Shows how much you know but you've already proven that.

As far as Yield grade, ribeye size has nothing to do with a more favorable eating experience, you are measuring red meat yield.

Why do guys like you even comment on something you know nothing about?


GLA: "Now where the hell did you come up with that?"

Why so defensive? You asked a question and I told you exactly what PM's experiences were. I don't have a bias for or against the video cam. In fact, I was one who advocated it's use thinking the results would be more favorable to the producer. That wasn't the case. I was as surprised as anyone else.

Sounds like you have a financial interest in selling video imaging.

For your information, USDA graders graded the carcasses prior to the video cam. If you want to argue that the video cam operators didn't know what they were doing, I heard that argument but it was never proven.

All I know is what the results were of an objective test THAT EXPECTED THE VIDEO IMAGING RESULTS TO BE BETTER THAN MANUAL GRADING.

Don't shoot the messanger here just because it doesn't support your $$$$$$$$ bias.


GLA: "Do you think this stuff runs for nothing?"

Obviously not because it cost $7 per head. A USDA grader cost the plant nothing and they had to inspect and grade the carcasses anyway.


GLA: "Guess the graders do their jobs for nothing, also."

They are going to have to do their job regardless.


GLA: "I have been in several plants, stood and watched the people running the cameras, saw the images taken and the chain keeps moving and the pictures are very good. Never saw the chain stop once because of bad pictures."

Bully for you. It still doesn't favor the producer or the packer and it still costs $7 per head.

PM voted to go with a periodic audit on USDA graders and save the money on video cam. I know, not what you wanted to hear.



~SH~
 

Econ101

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ocm said:
GLA said:
OCM,

I'm sure we won't be surprised with the reply from SH. Just for the record, we are in the process of finding out more about the vision cam. The technology will change the industry.........and I'm not 100% sure.......but I sure think it is going to happen!!

GLA

An objective grading system of any kind will change the system for the better. I was thinking, too, that if human graders habitually grade higher (and I'm not conceding the point) it might be better for producers and packers, but it would not be good for consumers. What we should be interested in is the truth, not a system that's biased toward anybody.

When that happens, the standard just gets lowered. If you read the history of grading, you will see that the grades have already been lowered. When the standard is lowered, it is just a "trick" on consumers and the market that will eventually correct itself---unless there just isn't any competition. If there is no competition, the lower standard will just be a part of the "new reality".

Good observation, OCM, why didn't the one who claims to be biased towards the "truth" come up with that instead of all the other trash talk about the system?
 

GLA

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SH,

Nope, do not have a financial interest in video imaging. However, I do think that it does produce some information that is useful to my business. Just want to make sure the data it does produce is accurate......and if the USDA is within a few months of certifying the technology to do exactly that...........then yes I am interested!

I don't really care if PM Beef didn't like the video cam.....that is their business. They pick for themselves. I have worked with some of their people and find them to be fair. We even have clients who regularly send cattle to them sorted with our system. But all that is in the past.........things have changed dramaticly in the last three years....so, several companies are taking another look at different technologies. Just because it didn't work last year does not mean it hasn't improved to the point where it merits more evaluation!

You are talking about past disappointments.........let's move past that!

Oh, one more thing. From what I can tell, the graders and their union is eager to move away from the stress of chain grading and move to other jobs that are less stressful.........I don't think they are in opposition to instrument grading. The graders will still be used in a supervisory role to check the accuracy of the video cam and it's operators.....so they will still be involved.......probably the last word. Does that suit you?

GLA
 

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USDA'S APPROVAL OF INSTRUMENT-AUGMENTED YIELD GRADING PROMISES TO SPREAD PRICES AND CHANGE THE WAY CATTLE ARE VALUED

by: Wes Ishmael

It's not the final volley signaling an irrevocable value-based revolution, but USDA's recent approval of instrument-augmentation for official yield grades is a market-splitting shot that will likely change the pricing landscape forever.

“This will more accurately measure the value of a carcass, and when you have 40 different buckets of value to place carcasses in rather than four you can pay more accurately for it,” says Tim Schiefelbein, ConAgra (Monfort) manager of value-based procurement. He's referring to new technology that will allow USDA graders to assign yield grades to the nearest tenth of a grade rather than to the nearest whole grade and be more accurate besides.

For perspective, most fed cattle carcasses currently fit into value buckets of Yield Grade 1-4 (out of Yield Grade 1-5). With instrument augmentation, carcasses could be classified as Yield Grade 1.1, 1.2 and so on. So instead of four prices based on yield, there could be 10 times that many.

However, if packers embrace this new technology—ConAgra is currently testing several systems; Excel has already installed instrument systems in each of its plants—Schiefelbein cautions some cattle will likely command substantially higher prices than the average packer purchase price, while others will command substantially less than the average.

Reading Muscle Accurately

“Right now we yield grade carcasses 1 to 5. With this technology we should be able to get to tenths of a yield grade. Anything we can do to get more accurate information back to the producer will help move toward value-based marketing,” says Barry Carpenter, Deputy Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Livestock and Seed Program.

Basically, three of the four components of yield grade—an estimate of carcass cutability or how much marketable meat is in the carcass—are easy to measure. Hot carcass weights are as objective as a scale and both fat thickness and percentage of kidney, pelvic and heart fat (KPH) are measured with amazing accuracy by the trained eyes of graders. But, estimating ribeye size—the other yield grade component—is tough to do consistently with an eyeball and little time.

“You look at graders now, they have 8-12 seconds per carcass to call preliminary yield grade, adjusted preliminary yield grade, KPH, estimated ribeye and fat, as well as look at the maturity and quality of the carcass,” explains James O. “Bo” Reagan, Executive Director of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Center for Research and Technology Services.

That's where these instruments based upon Video Image Analysis (VIA) come in. “This technology doesn't change the yield grade formula, it just gives us better tools to evaluate the factors,” explains Carpenter. “This technology should give us a very accurate reading on ribeye size and remove a significant amount of error.”

Skinning and Old Cat with Technology

In fact, Keith Belk, Associate Professor of Meat Science at Colorado State University says VIA instruments are proving to be at least 9o percent accurate for measuring ribeye size, compared to actual measures. That's based on several studies CSU conducted for USDA and NCBA

Basically, these VIA systems measure the ribeye then use that measurement along with the hot carcass weight and grader-assessed fat thickness and grader-adjusted KPH to calculate the yield grade.

All told, in various studies, Belk explains graders working at chain-speeds to estimate each yield grade component then calculate yield grade were accurate 68 percent of the time, compared to a gold standard of carcass evaluators who could take as much time as they wanted with each carcass. Yield grade computed by using graders' chain-speed estimates of the yield grade components, but calculated away from the rail was accurate 81 percent of the time. Now, give those same graders an instrument-derived ribeye measurement, let them estimate fat and adjust for KPH and the accuracy level climbs to 93 percent.

In fact, CSU has discovered similar gains in accuracy by using both of the most widely tested VIA instruments so far—the Australian VIAscan™ system and the Canadian CVS™ system.

“With this system in place, graders will be able to more accurately estimate yield grade to the nearest tenth than they can currently to the nearest whole grade,” emphasizes Reagan.

Incentives for Precision

“In truth, this is what the industry has been asking for over at least the past 10-15 years—an equitable determination of value,” says Belk. “This is an equitable system that should encourage trust. The packer doesn't gain more than the producer and the producer doesn't gain more than the packer.”

Actually, a pile of lost dollars says packers will take a hard look at implementing an augmented system and that producers will have an opportunity to gain.

“You will be able to pay more correctly for value and send those signals back to the producer, but initially the bigger incentive for a packer is how it could help us sort carcasses and manage fabrication,” explains Schiefelbein. “You will be able to see exactly what the trimmable waste is in the carcass and be able to sort carcasses more accurately into various programs.”

For perspective, based on some preliminary economic analysis at CSU, Belk says, “If packers slaughtering 1,500-5,000 head per day were to use instruments to assign yield grades to the nearest tenth, without doing anything else, we estimate they could recover $4-$5 per head immediately just because of accuracy and sorting capability. The kicker is with a little more sorting, such as for hindquarter and forequarter fabrication we estimate there is an aggregate of $30-$40 per head laying on the table.”

Moreover, the per-head cost should remain the same, at least where USDA is concerned.

Currently, USDA—which grades about 95 percent of all the fed cattle in this country—charges a twentieth of a cent per pound, or about 38 cents per head. “We don't envision that using this system will require any more manpower or any less. It's probably cost-neutral from our standpoint.”

Conversely, Reagan says packers are concerned about the lack of VIA competition. At this stage of the game only two systems are in the running for USDA approval and no one knows what the ultimate cost per head will be for installing the instruments and using the necessary software.

As for producer incentives, Belk says, “This will be good for the producers who produce the better cattle because they won't be subsidizing the poorer cattle anymore, while those producers with the poorer quality cattle will be penalized.”

Given that, Schiefelbein points out, “When you add variation to the prices of cattle from high to low it becomes more important to know which ones are on the high side and which ones are on the low side.”

In other words, incentive grows to know more specifically how cattle perform beyond the pasture. So, it's not a stretch to think the advent of instrument augmentation may also accelerate the pace of individual cattle identification. “I think this information is most valuable when it can be traced back to origin and used to make management decisions,” says Carpenter. “The more traceable the information is, the more benefit there is to it.”

Changing Values Fast?

Keep in mind, this is an augmented system where instruments are added to the equation, rather than taking people away. Reagan says, “People hear we are making a move toward instruments and they think we are doing away with graders. We're talking about instrument augmentation that provides information to enhance the grader's decision-making ability.” And, vice versa.

As accurate as these instruments are, Carpenter explains they don't yet account for carcass variation due to things like mangled ribeyes, which graders must account for in arriving at an accurate grade.

“Everything USDA is discussing will infinitely improve the accuracy and repeatability of the current yield grading system,” emphasizes Belk.

With that in mind, Carpenter says USDA is working aggressively to make the system available. “It's not unrealistic, from out perspective, that this system would be ready to implement by the spring of 2001.”

As well, Reagan believes this is part of the value-based journey rather than a destination. He explains, “Even though we are making strides with yield grade, we see this opening the door to go on and look at systems that could estimate marbling, quality grade, tenderness or systems that could even segment carcasses into specific brands.”

Carpenter agrees, explaining, “The key is that this is not the end-all. It's the first step in a major move toward value-based marketing. It will be as beneficial to the industry as the industry will allow it to be by getting the information back to producers.”

With that said, if packers do embrace the new system, Schiefelbein believes the yield grading transition will occur over time rather than suddenly. At least in Monfort's case, he says producers will be given time to adjust.

Plus, Schiefelbein explains, “It's important for producers to keep in mind that the same kind of cattle doing well in the current system will still do well in this new system. This won't alter the trend of what is desirable and has value.”

(Reprinted with permission from Beef December 2000)
 

GLA

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Mike,

Thanks for the article. It sheds a good amount of light on this topic. Know where I could find more info on this subject?

GLA
 

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I've seen several images from a video grading camera. It was a joke . The hide pullers make a mess of the unintelligent cameras measurements. If the puller strips a big chunk of fat off of the carcass where they brake it , it'll lower the yg due to less external fat. You can look at the rest of the carcass and obviously tell what the fat cover was. Ultrasound at the stun block is the best method to me. I don't know of anyone doing it but I'd prefer it.
 

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Prediction of retail product weight and percentage using ultrasound and carcass measurements in beef cattle.

Greiner SP, Rouse GH, Wilson DE, Cundiff LV, Wheeler TL.

Department of Animal Science, Iowa State University, Ames 50011, USA. [email protected]

Data from 534 steers representing six sire breed groups were used to develop live animal ultrasound prediction equations for weight and percentage of retail product. Steers were ultrasonically measured for 12th-rib fat thickness (UFAT), rump fat thickness (URPFAT), longissimus muscle area (ULMA), and body wall thickness (UBDWALL) within 5 d before slaughter. Carcass measurements included in USDA yield grade (YG) and quality grade calculations were obtained. Carcasses were fabricated into boneless, totally trimmed retail products. Regression equations to predict weight and percentage of retail product were developed using either live animal or carcass traits as independent variables. Most of the variation in weight of retail product was accounted for by live weight (FWT) and carcass weight with R2 values of 0.66 and 0.69, respectively. Fat measurements accounted for the largest portion of the variation in percentage of retail product when used as single predictors (R2 = 0.54, 0.44, 0.23, and 0.54 for UFAT, URPFAT, UBDWALL, and carcass fat, respectively). Final models (P < 0.10) using live animal variables included FWT, UFAT, ULMA, and URPFAT for retail product weight (R2 = 0.84) and UFAT, URPFAT, ULMA, UBDWALL, and FWT for retail product percentage (R2 = 0.61). Comparatively, equations using YG variables resulted in R2 values of 0.86 and 0.65 for weight and percentage of retail product, respectively. Results indicate that live animal equations using ultrasound measurements are similar in accuracy to carcass measurements for predicting beef carcass composition, and alternative ultrasound measurements of rump fat and body wall thickness enhance the predictive capability of live animal-based equations for retail yield.

PMID: 12854810 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE][/u][/b]
 

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