Iowa meat has never been better

by | Sep 18, 2023 | 5 Ag Stories, News

It’s never been better- the taste and quality of Iowa’s homegrown beef products and the job being done by our wonderful independent cattle producers. The strides we are seeing on Iowa’s cattle farms are not by accident though as the groundwork has been laid for a lot of years as is now paying off as the percentage of choice and prime beef that comes off each head of cattle in Iowa continues to increase – those are the top two quality designations of meat from USDA. Dr. Brandon Koch, a nutritionist with Kent Nutrition, says even though we continue to learn more about producing high quality animals, the basics remain.

“Marbling has as much to do with time on feed and age of the animal as it does anything else,” Koch said. “You know, we can have a discussion on whether that’s intramuscular marbling or intra microcellular marbling, there’s a bunch of different nerdy things we can talk about, as lot has changed in the past few years to help improve that meat quality standpoint.”

Of course, the animals are continuing to get bigger as the slaughter weights are now over 1500 pounds due to advancements in genetics allowing a larger frame of the animal, coupled with a few key supplements including a new one now available in the last couple of years.

“A beta agonist,” Koch said. “Those actually started years and years and years ago with human medicine and trying to dilate the breathing airways. In the testing process we found that that livestock has really good receptors for those molecules that shifts the maturity cycle basically, it makes them more youthful in their growth and therefore significantly more efficient, putting on more muscle than fat.”

Which combined with time on feed, of course and size of the animal as mentioned earlier are all contributing factors into the quality of that meat we see coming from our favorite farmer or in the local grocery store.