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Ultrasounding cattle, tagging calves, winter pasture rotation, culling bulls, feeding calves, fence repair
17 December 2008
Page three of three
Sean, at right, looks on as he holds down the head catch arm to the squeeze chute while Sam Tripson operates the assembled ultrasound equipment. Ultrasounding cattle has become a routine procedure. The Mississippi State University Extension Service describes why the process is used: "Ultrasound scanning for carcass traits is a useful tool for obtaining valuable carcass information from a live animal. Ultrasound technology uses sound waves to develop images of body composition. Body composition traits that can be measured include 12th to 13th rib fat thickness, rump fat thickness, ribeye area, and intramuscular fat percentage (marbling). Each of these traits is at least moderately heritable and is significant in the determination of red meat quality and yield for individual animals." Prior to ultrasound, this information could only be gleaned from butchering a live animal.
The ultrasound process begins by first shaving an area of the animal's back to ensure a good reading without interference from the hair. Vegetable oil is put on the shaved area to be used as a lubricant.
The imaging takes a few minutes with the results being seen on a screen in real time.

Images of the ribeye area and intramuscular fat percentage (marbling) are seen on the two screens above. Learn more about what the screens are showing from these Extension Service publications:
Ultrasound Scanning Beef Cattle for Body Composition (Mississippi State University)
Beef Cattle Anatomy and Ultrasound (Iowa State University)

Sean watches a herd of cattle ambling back to their pasture after a long day in the cow pens.
Florida Cattle Ranch by Bob Montanaro
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