Best Management Practices to Reach CAB® Target

How to get your piece of the bigger CAB pie within the smaller U.S. beef cow herd.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Nov. 4, 2014) — Mark McCully, vice president of supply for Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), noted some bad news/good news to open the education series on producing for the consumer.

Overall, he said, cattle harvest in the United States has declined 4.1 million head per year since 2000, nearly 57 million fewer cattle during those 14 years. Yet, incredibly, the supply of cattle qualifying for the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand has increased by 1.5 million head per year during that time, amassing 20 million more head of cattle.

Mark McCully, Certified Angus Beef LLCMark McCully of Certified Angus Beef advised a “holistic approach” to management, since environmental factors account for 60% of each animal’s ability to qualify: “We can screw those genetics up in a lot of ways.”

The dramatic shift to quality has come from the producer response to market signals, using ever-better registered-Angus genetics and selection tools, along with focused management, McCully explained.

Not surprisingly, the share of Angus-influenced cattle in the harvest mix moved up half a percentage point to 63.5%, he said. The most significant shift was in the share of those cattle accepted for the brand, a record 27%.

“We monitor why the others don’t make it, McCully said. Insufficient marbling was a factor in 94% of those falling short in 2008, and that edged up to 95% in 2012. No other of the 10 specifications comes close, but oversize ribeyes and heavy carcasses are growing in importance as disqualifying factors.

“In 2000, we used to hold up anyone who could hit 30% CAB as a great example of what’s possible, but all of the black cattle have done that some weeks this year,” McCully said. “So we looked at what the feedlot groups look like that averaged more than 40% CAB in the last two years.”

They averaged 93.2% Choice or better, 52.8% CAB with 8.1% Prime, and Yield Grade 2.9 at 834 pounds of carcass weight. They averaged 105 head in the pens.

“Anybody can get to that level today,” McCully said, showing examples from harsh environments in Wyoming and Oklahoma, where ranches have produced thousands of calves exceeding 60% CAB, and noting a single generation of breeding to the best Angus bulls can make a dramatic first step.

He advised a “holistic approach” to management, since environmental factors account for 60% of each animal’s ability to qualify: “We can screw those genetics up in a lot of ways.”

After reviewing dozens of specific recommendations from the brand’s “Best Practices Manual,” available at, McCully said the best way to make that attention to detail pay is by keeping good records and bringing them to bear on individuals in the herd, then selling calves through value-based marketing channels.


Editor's Note: This article was written by staff or for the Angus Journal®. It is available for reprint upon request to editor Shauna Hermel. Author Steve Suther is director of industry information for Certified Angus Beef LLC. Photos are available upon request.

ABOUT CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF LLC. Of the more than 106 "Angus" branded beef programs monitored by the USDA, CAB is the only one owned by the American Angus Association and its members. The Association formed the CAB brand in 1978 as a not-for-profit company that owns only the trademarks it uses. Our company functions independently from the Association through the guidance of nine directors, which include five members of the Association board. For more information, visit and

ANGUS MEANS BUSINESS. The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving nearly 25,000 members across the United States and Canada. It provides programs and services to farmers, ranchers and others who rely on the power of Angus to produce quality genetics for the beef industry and quality beef for consumers. For more information about Angus cattle and the American Angus Association’s programs and services, visit