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From the News Archives ...

"Dark cutters"—yet another downside of factory ranching

The vast majority of feedlot cattle are implanted with hormones to speed their growth. The trend is to implant the animals at a younger and younger age, resulting in even greater growth. Some calves are implanted as soon as they are weaned.

According to researchers at Oklahoma State University, implants do indeed create bigger, leaner animals, but they have a number of unwanted consequences. As they say in a recent OSU report, "all implant regimens have some detrimental effects on marbling score and percentage of carcasses grading US Choice." They decrease tenderness as well. To make matters worse, the implants increase the percentage of cattle that are labeled "dark cutters," which is an industry term used to describe lean meat that has an unpleasant brown color. Customers prefer bright red meat, so dark cutters have to be sold at a discount. The OSU researchers estimate that dark cutters "cost the US cattle industry approximately $132 million annually."

Yet again, manipulating animals so they grow bigger, faster has been proven to reduce the overall quality of the product.

D. N. Vargas, et al, "Implant effects on USDA beef carcass quality grade traits and meat tenderness." J. Animal Science, 1998. Vol 76 (Supplement 2), page 13.

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