Sep 21, 2014

# ‘Dressing’ for Success

April 9, 2014

Producers used to think of dressing percentage as a packer calculation, but as more cattlemen move to selling on a grid, it figures into the pricing formula.

Beef yield per animal makes a difference from ranch to packer.
By: Miranda Reiman, Industry Information Assistant Director, Certified Angus Beef LLC

Cattle feeders live by numbers. Gain, feed efficiency, rations and of course prices—each one matters to the ultimate bottom line, but there’s one figure that may be less understood among cow-calf producers.

"If you spend much time talking with a feedlot manager about components of profitable cattle, it won’t be long until he or she starts talking about dressing percent," says Mark McCully, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) vice president.

It’s often referred to simply as "yield" though it’s not at all the same as Yield Grade.

"Dressing percentage is simply the percent of a live, finished steer or heifer that ends up in the carcass form," he says.

The math is pretty straightforward. McCully shares this example: if a 1,300-pound (lb.) live steer produces an 819-lb. hot carcass, that number divided by the live weight equals .63 or 63%. A bigger number, or higher yield in this case, is more favorable.

With a typical range in dressing percentage falling between 57% and 67%, what impact does a shift one way or the other have on profit?

"When you put a pencil to it and figure in today’s relatively high prices, those points really add up," McCully says.

Selling that 1,300-lb. steer at a carcass-weight price of \$225 per hundredweight (cwt.) brings up a \$117 difference when moving from a dressing percent of 61% to 65% (see Table 1).

Producers used to think of dressing percentage as a packer calculation, but as more cattlemen move to selling on a grid, it figures into the pricing formula.

"If you have cattle that dress higher, then you have a higher percentage of their total live weight that you’re getting paid for and you’ll get more value," says Amy Radunz, University of Wisconsin animal scientist.

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RELATED TOPICS: Beef, Cattle, Feedyard, Packer, Beef News

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