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• USDA yield grading system of carcasses
• How to determine USDA yield grades

The USDA yield grades for beef carcasses predicts the percentage of the carcass that is closely trimmed, mostly boneless, retail product from the round, loin, rib, and chuck. The USDA yield grades are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5; with yield grade 1 yielding the highest percentage of retail product and yield grade 5 having the lowest percentage of retail product.

The following table shows each yield grade with its coordinating percentage of closely trimmed retail product.

Yield Grade Percentage of closely trimmed retail product
1 75.5%
2 71.5%
3 67.5%
4 64.9%
5 60.8%

USDA yield grades are calculated using an equation that incorporates adjusted fat thickness, percent of kidney, pelvic, and heart fat, hot carcass weight, and ribeye area. The yield grade equation is as follows:

+ (.20 x percent kidney, pelvic, and heart fat)

+ (.0038 x hot carcass weight, pounds)

- (.32 x ribeye area, square inches)

For example, a carcass has .40 inch of fat, 2.5 percent KPH, 12.8 square inches of ribeye, and a hot carcass weight of 750 pounds. Substituting these variables into the yield grade equation to calculate a final yield grade of 2.75:

YG = 2.50 + (2.50 x .4 in. fat)

+ (.2 x 2.5% KPH)

+ (.0038 x 750 lbs carcass wt.)

- (.32 x 12.8 in2 ribeye)

YG = 2.75

The yield grade is expressed as a whole number; any fraction or decimal part of the number is dropped. For example, if the equation results in a yield grade of 2.75, the final yield grade is 2. It is not rounded to 3.