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Unread 12-26-2008, 09:33 AM   #1
boatnut
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Default Question for cattle or beef experts

I've been seeing a lot of beef being sold at unbelievably low prices. I realize that a lot of it is graded select instead of choice. However , I'm also seeing a lot of beef being sold as USDA "Graded"..but..it doesn't say WHAT grade.
A few months ago, I was at a store that had whole beef tenderloins for 6.99 lb. When I asked the butcher about lack of "choice" or select" he said they were "cow tenderloins". Well...not knowing the finer points of cows, I said "well, duh, i knew they came from cows". He said yes..cows as in heffers and not steers.
I guess my question is....how does the meat from "cows" or heffers compare to meat from steers. What does it mean when it is just USDA "graded" without a select or choice ranking??
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Unread 12-26-2008, 09:56 AM   #2
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There are 8 grades of USDA beef.Click Here
  1. Prime
  2. Choice
  3. Select
  4. Standard
  5. Commercial
  6. Utility
  7. Cutter
  8. Canner
While I'm not a professional meat person, I'd say it is below Select, and probably best for hamburger only. IMO
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Unread 12-26-2008, 10:01 AM   #3
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There are only three USDA grades of beef and "graded" is not one of them.

http://www.askthemeatman.com/what_ar...ef_grades!.htm

As to the cow and steer distinction, that isn't practical to keep straight unless the butcher processed the meat himself -- which is very rare these days.

In short, using another beef term, the entire thing sounds like Bull to me.

Edit: Well, I didn't even read far enough into my own referenc -- it says eight just like RCS says, instead of three as I thought. Still sounds like bs, though.
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Unread 12-26-2008, 12:20 PM   #4
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Also not a meat professional, but if it was heffer it should in theory be pretty tender meat, being less than two years old, and not being used up as a milk cow.
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Unread 12-26-2008, 12:28 PM   #5
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I remember seeing something stamped "graded Edible"
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Unread 12-26-2008, 02:04 PM   #6
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Heifer has never had a calf....probably more tender because of lack of preg hormones. other than that, I don't think there is a diff in meat from cow or steer. Meat from bull is tough as hell (usually from age and hormones).
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Unread 12-26-2008, 03:05 PM   #7
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In the ole days meat in many grocery stores wasn't labeled by grade. We all knew the Feds inspected it but the stores didn't bother to tell you what grade they were selling you. Back then only higher end butchers and stores told you they were selling choice or prime (at a premium price). I can remember when the local stores first started advertising select grade. Presumably before that they were selling standard or below. I'd make the same assumption here.
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Unread 12-26-2008, 04:32 PM   #8
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When you use the term Grade usually this means that the stock didn't come from a registered herd. As in horses I'd take a grade horse over a registered gelding. All of our beef comes from home grown. Nothing is registered all is grade stock. If I couldn't get farm raised I would go to the sale barn and buy a 2 yr old steer, usually will cost less than a heifer because heifers are sold for reproduction. Don't buy a canner or gummer CRAP BEEF. Sometime local processors will have whole, 1/2 or 1/4 beef and pork for sale. This way you can have it cut up the way you want and save money.
We went to a steak house in KCMO where the moto is Fresh never frozen. After trying to choke down this awful piece of meat I told them that I have farm beef that has been frozen for 6 months that would put any commerical processed beef to shame.
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Unread 12-26-2008, 05:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smythers1968 View Post
When you use the term Grade usually this means that the stock didn't come from a registered herd. As in horses I'd take a grade horse over a registered gelding. All of our beef comes from home grown. Nothing is registered all is grade stock. If I couldn't get farm raised I would go to the sale barn and buy a 2 yr old steer, usually will cost less than a heifer because heifers are sold for reproduction. Don't buy a canner or gummer CRAP BEEF. Sometime local processors will have whole, 1/2 or 1/4 beef and pork for sale. This way you can have it cut up the way you want and save money.
We went to a steak house in KCMO where the moto is Fresh never frozen. After trying to choke down this awful piece of meat I told them that I have farm beef that has been frozen for 6 months that would put any commerical processed beef to shame.

Grade, in the context of the original post, means the grade given by the USDA for that carcass. It has nothing to do with the herd. Two "bovine" could grow up in the same herd, eating the same feed and come from the same genetics. One could be graded as a choice carcass and the other a prime. Its a about marbling.

Cow = heifer that has been pregnant
Bull = steer with testicles

We typically don't eat cuts of cow or bull as they can be tough and have an off taste. Market cattle for slaughter are steers and heifers.
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Unread 12-26-2008, 05:02 PM   #10
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Pork has no grades in the USA. It does in Japan.
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