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Grades Of Heifer Beef

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

There are seven grades of heifer beef : No. A 1 or Prime, No. 1 or Choice, No. 2 or Good, No. 3 or Medium, No. 4 or Common, No. 5 or Cutter, and No. 6 or Low Cutter.

No. A 1 or Prime Heifer Beef

Normally, the quantity of Prime heifer beef available is negligible. The few carcasses that are found so closely resemble those of prime steers in every respect, except sex, that a separate description of the grade is not made in this publication. For all practical purposes, the description of No. A 1, or Prime, steer beef can be applied to No. A 1, or Prime, heifer beef.

No. 1, or Choice, Heifer Beef

No. 1, or Choice, heifer beef has excellent quality, conformation, and finish. In most respects it does not differ materially from steer beef. The greatest variation is in conformation, due to the difference in sex. A Choice heifer carcass is slightly less rugged in appearance than is that of a Choice steer. The outlines are regular, smooth, and graceful, and suggestive of an abundance of flesh which has a fine grain, and is of light to medium-red color. The loins, ribs, and rounds are full-fleshed and well-rounded, but to slightly less degree than those of a Choice steer. The chucks and plates compare favorably with those of steer beef, and the shanks and neck are small and plump.

The exterior surface is almost completely covered with smooth, creamy-white fat of moderate thickness and excellent quality. The greatest depth of fat is over the loins and ribs, with only a thin covering over the shanks, neck, shoulders, and lower round. The kidney, crotch, and breast fats are generally more abundant than in steers of the same grade, but are not excessively wasty. They have the same quality and color as those of Choice steer beef. The udder is the point of greatest waste. In all other respects, the Choice heifer resembles the Choice steer, and is equally desirable from the consumer's standpoint. Carcass weights range from 350 to 600 pounds.

No. 2, or Good Heifer Beef

No. 2, or Good, heifer beef is above the average of the class in quality, conformation, thickness of flesh, and finish, but is too deficient in one or more of these factors to qualify for Choice grade. The outlines are inclined to be angular, on account of the development of sex characteristics. The carcass is relatively long in proportion to the depth of flesh. The hip and shoulder joints are noticeable, but not prominent. Ribs, loins, and rounds are of good build, but slightly inclined to flatness. The rounds show a virtually straight line from the tail joint to the shank, the shank being inclined to be long and tapering. The chucks and plates usually show slightly greater width in proportion to the length of carcass than do steer cuts of equal grade.

The "eye" of the rib and loin has good breadth and shows some marbling. The flesh is light to medium red in color. The fat covering generally is rough or wavy, but is not excessive, and is inclined to be bunchy over the loins and ribs. The shanks, neck, shoulders, and lower rounds may be thinly covered, or have no covering at all. The kidney, crotch, and breast fats are abundant and usually wasty, and frequently are soft and of slightly yellowish or creamy-white color. The interior walls of the forequarter are rarely entirely covered, while those of the hindquarters are well covered with a thin layer of fat. Carcass weights range from 350 to 550 pounds.

No. 3, or Medium, Heifer Beef

No. 3, or Medium, heifer beef, like steer beef of the same grade, represents the average of the class. It has irregular or angular conformation, moderate thickness of flesh, and is of sufficient quality and finish to satisfy the demands of the aver-age consumer. The hip and shoulder joints are prominent, the chucks and plates are relatively large and wide, and are inclined to be rough. The loins and ribs are shallow. The rounds are of average thickness, but are lacking in the fullness and amount of flesh of the better grades. The flanks are relatively thin and light. The neck is long, thin, and tapering. The "eye" of the rib and loin lacks the thickness of the better grades, but has sufficient breadth to satisfy the average retail demand for steaks and roasts from these parts.

The exposed flesh shows no marbling, and lacks the light-red color common to beef of better finish. It is moderately coarse, "stringy," tough, and soft or watery, indicating a lack of concentrated feed. The outside fat covers the ribs, loins, rump, and a small portion of the chucks, but is absent from the lower round, shoulders, shanks, and neck. The interior fats generally are absent from the forequarter, except small amounts of breast fat. There is a small amount of kidney and crotch fat of average quality, and this usually has a yellowish tint. This grade is on the market throughout the year, especially in the cities and outlying sections within easy reach of the large packing centers. Carcass weights range between 350 and 550 pounds.

No. 4, or Common, Heifer Beef

No. 4, or Common, heifer beef is the lowest grade of this class in which the whole carcass is sold to the retail trade. The grade is composed mostly of carcasses from immature or underfed "long" yearling females. The conformation is decidedly irregular and angular. The hip and shoulder joints are very prominent. The curve in the back is very pronounced. Rounds, shanks, and neck are long and thinly fleshed. The flesh throughout lacks depth and attractiveness, on account of the absence of fat or finish, but very often is surprisingly tender, especially in carcasses from young animals. There is practically no fat on the exterior surface, and very little on the breast and in the crotch, and over the kidneys.

The "eye" of the loin and rib lacks the breadth ordinarily sought by the average trade, and may have the pinkish tint of "split veal," or it may have a dark-red color and a watery appearance. The number of heifer carcasses of this grade is negligible as compared with the total number of carcasses on the market. Carcass weights range from 300 to 450 pounds.

No. 5, or Cutter, Heifer Beef

Heifer beef of the Cutter grade is quite similar to that belonging to the corresponding grade in the steer class. It comes from animals so thin and emaciated that, as a rule, only the loins and ribs can be sold in retail cuts. Such beef is decidedly deficient in conformation, quality, and finish. It is not produced with commercial intent, but is an accident of the beef-cattle industry, being the result of drought, neglect, or some other untoward condition. As is true of steer beef of the corresponding grade, Cutter heifer beef is used mostly for sausage or canning. Under normal conditions the supply is negligible.

No. 6, or Low Cutter, Heifer Beef

This is the lowest grade of heifer beef recognized by the trade. It includes virtually all heifer carcasses so thin and lacking in flesh and fat that even the loins and ribs can not be dispensed in retail cuts. As the name implies, most beef of this grade is canned, although some is used in sausage.

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