- Why do we need carcass evaluation?
To aid us in determining when our animals are ready for market.
- To allow us to ship animals that are alike in carcass quality to ensure consumer satisfaction.
- Is carcass evaluation important to me even if I only Show goats?
Yes, this is important data everyone should have with in the association. Not every goat born on a 'show' herd will make a show goat. Therefore you need to know how to evaluate your animals to determine the course they should go. Whether it is a show wether or show doe. Every wether has it's last show, well then, where does he go? To a buyer who is buying off of grade. Also, a judge is using carcass evaluation data when judging the wethers. They look for that wide frame and finished top with little or no fat. All show and commercial entities tie together one way or another.
- How can I add carcass evaluation to my herd?
This is an easy task. You do not necessarily have to have a butchered animal to use carcass evaluation data on your herd. Use a pencil and paper and simply keep records. Keeping information on weights and measurements of your weaned kids will go a long ways to help you increase your quality of animal in your herd. Even finding a person to do loin eye ultrasounds on your weaned kids would be a very reliable source of data. This can be used against the ultrasounds you conduct on your bucks to determine if the trait is hereditary. By tracking data on different genetic lines you cross into your herd and the outcomes you get, will help you plan future breeding for enhancing the quality of animals you produce. If you think about it, a doe that places consistently at the top of her class show after show probably has the carcass frame to keep her there. She is long and wide in the loin, keeps her frame filled with muscle not fat. She probably also has a large leg and a lot of body capacity. If you were to look at breeding her you want to breed to a buck to bring out the best of her and him. That doe also has to reproduce herself, kid after kid. She has to raise those kids to a consistent weaning weight too. You are after a quality carcass, although we 'show' people just don't tend to say carcass all the time. I believe people always think of it as a dead hanging carcass and not the frame and the alive part of carcass evaluation we are using in the show ring.
There are several components of a carcass that allow for the determination of such
things as age, maturity, and sex. All of these are taken into consideration when determining
a quality grade. Age and Maturity:
Age and maturity affect on another. More importantly, maturity characteristics can be used
to determine the age of a carcass. Age is divided into three categories. Kid
- 2 to 14 months of age
A kid carcass can be identified by the presence of break joints on the front shanks. The joint is moderately red, moist, and porous. The ribs of the carcass will vary in shape from round to moderately flat with some redness on the exposed surfaces. Young Chevon
- 12 to 25 months of age
A young Chevon carcass is characterized by spool joints on both front shanks or one spool joint and an imperfect break joint. The ribs are moderately wind and tend to be flat with slight to no redness. Aged Chevon
- over 24 months of age
Aged Chevon carcasses always have spool joints. The ribs are wide, flat, and the color of mature bone. Flank muscles range in color from dark red to very dark red.
The break joint is a cartilaginous area of the cannon bone that is not ossified. This joint ossifies with age to become what is called a spool joint.
There are also sex differences among carcasses. Doe carcasses can be identified by the presence of an udder. In aged Chevon, the udder is often "wet", having a yellowish brown exudate. If it is very wet, it will be removed during the harvesting process. Doe kids and yearlings have a pocket of udder fat the is long and smooth. Wethers have cod fat which is rough and irregular in shape. It is usually a smaller deposit that udder fat. Bucks have the smallest fat deposit. They can also be identified by heavy shoulders and thick necks. Carcass Evaluation
Before they are harvested, kids are yield graded. This means that they are assigned a number value that allows livestock buyers to give the producer a price for the live animal. The buyer estimates the 12th rib fat of the goat and plugs it into the following equation:
yield grade = .4 + (10 x 12th rib fat)
After harvesting, a yield grade is assigned to a carcass to reflect the quantity of retail cuts expected from that carcass.
To measure the fat thickness, the carcass should be ribbed (cut) between the 12th and 13th rib. A ruler can be applied at the midpoint of each ribeye, the average is then determined.
A couple of other measurements that are not part of determining yield grade, but are important in evaluating the carcass include leg conformation score and ribeye area. Both indicate carcass muscling. Leg conformation score is a visual appraisal of the thickness of the carcass. Heavier muscled carcasses have a higher score. Ribeye area is measured by laying a grid of dots over the ribeye of a ribbed carcass. Both ribeyes are measured then the average is determined. 20 dots equal 1 square inch. Quality Grade
Quality grade is the expected eating satisfaction of Chevon. Chevon quality grades are based upon palatability which is characterized by lean and carcass composition. For kids and young chevon there are four quality grades: prime, choice, good, and utility. Older chevon quality grades include: choice, good, utility, and cull.
The factors that affect quality grades include:
1: Maturity - This was discussed in the above section on determining age and maturity.
Kid carcasses can be divided into A and B maturity groups. They are identified as follows:
maturity A maturity B
Ribs moderately narrow, slightly flat slightly wide, moderately flat
Break joints moderately red, moist, porous slightly red, slightly dry and hard
Color of inside flank muscles
U.S. prime slightly dark pink light red
U.S. choice moderately dark pink moderately dark red
U.S. good dark pink slightly dark red
2: Flank Fat Streaking - Flank fat is a visible deposit within and upon the surfaces of the primary and secondary flank muscles. It is usually more extensive on the secondary muscle.
3: Firmness of Lean Flesh and External Fat - this is influenced by carcass fatness. The fattest kids are the firmest in lean and fat while the leaner kids are softer in lean and fat.
4: Conformation - Superior conformation carcasses are wide, thick, and heavy muscled. They will yield a higher percentage of edible portions. Carcasses poorer in composition are thinly muscled with a less desirable lean to bone ratio. Consumer Information
There are four primal cuts on a kid carcass. They include the shoulder, rack, loin, and leg. These cuts can be processed further.
Here is some available data that was found through Langston University and the University of Maryland Extension. I have found both to be of great value when deciding what the end product will in deed look like. I hope it will help all of those who are looking to learn a little more about carcass evaluation and how it is done.