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© 1982, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide describes the ten USDA feeder cattle grades.

The purpose of the USDA Feeder Cattle Grades is to sort feeder cattle into similar groups that will facilitate their selling and buying. These grades can also be used for sorting feeder cattle into similar outcome groups in a feedlot. Differences in frame size and muscle thickness score are the basis for the USDA Feeder Cattle Grades.

Feeder cattle are given a grade score that is coded for both frame size (large, medium and small) and thickness (1, 2 and 3). For example, a large frame, thick feeder steer would have a feeder grade of "L-1," indicating a large frame, number 1 muscle thickness. Feeder grades consisting of frame size and thickness will only apply to normal, healthy animals. The grade "Inferior" will be used for cattle that are not expected to perform normally in their present state.