Sep 17, 2014
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100% Grass-Fed

RSS By: Randy Kuhn, Beef Today

Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.

What is BQA, NCBA's MBA & BMP?

Feb 15, 2011

What is "Quality" Beef?


A large part of the beef industry’s job involves making sure that beef is safe and wholesome

for all consumers. 

   BQA (Beef Quality Assurance), began as an effort to ensure that volatile chemical residues were not present in marketed beef.  Originally called "Beef Safety Assurance," the program's early emphasis was on assuring the real and perceived safety of beef.  However, BQA has become much more than a safety assurance program.  Today, BQA programming is expanding with information to help producers implement BMP, or best management practices that improve both quality grades and yield grades of beef carcasses.  Do your part.  We held the "Chute-side" portion of the PA BQA training at our farm in May of 2010.  We’re hoping to make it an annual event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Beef Council.


   Education is knowledge, and knowledge is the first step in growth.  If your not willing to learn, your not going to be productive or profitable!  NCBA also has been at the forefront of promoting safe, LEAN, wholesome BEEF for the entire world.  NCBA's MBA program has helped us and hundreds of other producers from around the country be Advocates for the BEEF Industry.  I was the first MBA Graduate in the State of Pennsylvania.  And what I learned both on-line and in the classroom has been invaluable to us, our animals and our farm as a whole.


For more information about how you can become an Advocate for the BEEF Industry through the MBA program, contact Melissa Slagle at 303-867-6306 or

   Previous National Beef Quality Audits have summarized that the number one leverage point to improve competitiveness and regain market share was to improve beef quality, uniformity and consistency. Additionally, the sectors that sell beef products indicated that improvements were needed in tenderness, palatability and a reduction in excess trimable fat.   Many consumers are familiar with quality grades and may make purchasing decisions based on quality grades at retail locations. But, within the consumer atmosphere the term "quality" can be confusing.  Consumers and even producers often find it difficult to distinguish between the various and different ways to define "quality" with regard to beef.   We can better understand "quality" if we dissect the various contexts in which we define quality.

Eating Characteristics

Quality beef
consistently satisfies customer expectations for eating and preparation characteristics. Expectations may include tenderness, flavor, juiciness, color, leanness, packaging, ease of preparation -- and price.  In the retail market many breeds and genetic lines are used, making it difficult to produce uniform animals important for getting consistent products to consumers.  Value for the money is also very important to consumers as they select beef products against other competing meat and vegetable proteins, Yuk!!

Safety and Wholesomeness

products are harvested and processed under strict government inspection systems that ensure it is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.   The nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is subject to established federal or state inspection requirements. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is charged with ultimate responsibility for protecting the U.S. meat supply under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

For more information go to:



USDA Quality Grading

A beef quality grade is a composite evaluation of factors that affect palatability of meat (tenderness, juiciness, and flavor).  These factors include carcass maturity, firmness, texture, color of fat, and the amount and distribution of marbling.

Beef carcass quality grading is based on the degree of marbling and maturity.  USDA beef quality grades are Prime, Choice, Select, Standard, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner.   Since quality grading is voluntary, not all carcasses are quality graded.   Packers may apply their own "house brand" to merchandise their beef. Carcasses merchandised as ungraded beef usually are those that do not grade Choice or Prime.  They generally are termed "No Roll" beef by the industry, because a grade stamp has not been rolled on the carcass.


USDA Yield Grading

Beef yield grades show differences in the total yield of retail cuts.  Yield grades estimate the amount of boneless, closely trimmed retail cuts from the high-value parts of the carcass – the round, loin, rib, and chuck.  The USDA Yield Grades are rated numerically and are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Yield Grade 1 denotes the highest yielding carcass and Yield Grade 5, the lowest.  Thus, we would expect a YG 1 carcass to have the highest percentage of boneless, closely trimmed retail cuts, or higher "cutability," while a YG 5 carcass would have the lowest percentage of boneless, closely trimmed retail cuts, or the lowest cutability.

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