Our Quest for Prime: Ultrasound


We at Genesee Valley Ranch are committed to excellence, our goal is to provide our customers with the highest quality Wagyu beef available on the market.  But how do you know what the inside looks like when you can only see the outside?  Most crops can be tested to ensure they are being harvested at their peak quality but how can that be done when your “crop” is a living animal? 


How do you know when your beef is ready to be harvested? This was a question we pondered as we first embarked on our quest for prime 100% grass fed Wagyu beef.  How are we going to ensure that our beef is the highest quality possible?  The amount of fat or marbling an animal has determines the meats grade.  This “grade” is how meat is marketed and sold at grocery stores.  The USDA determines the meats grade based on the fine fat striations found within the muscle, the more the fat, the higher the grade and more sought after the meat becomes.  This fat determines the meats flavor, tenderness, and juiciness, all very important factors when producing high quality beef.  The USDA uses 4 major classifications for meat, the lowest grade and least desirable is Utility, next is Select - the most common grade, Choice - the highest grade the average consumer has tried and the most coveted - Prime.  Only 2% of all beef raised in the United States receive the most coveted grade of Prime, rarely if ever does 100% grass fed beef receive this grade.   

We did our research and discovered an upcoming technique of ultra-sounding for marbling or the fat that is present in the muscle.  This technology allows you the opportunity to see what is on the inside.  The ultra sound provides us information on rump fat thickness, 12-13th rib fat thickness, ribeye area and % Intramuscular Fat (marbling).  The ultra sound images are sent to a laboratory ran by Iowa State University where the images are reviewed and analyzed.  We use this data as a tool to select our next round of finish beef.  Those with the highest % of Intramuscular Fat will then enter our olive pulp finish program.

This approach of using science and technology to determine the overall quality of a beef is not a common practice.  The livestock industry typically focuses more on age of the animal, weight and time spent in the feed lot as determining factors regardless of the quality.  We have found that none of those factors commonly used are reliable indicators of an animal’s quality.  Our ultrasound results have shown that a beef weighing 900 pounds can have more marbling than one weighing 1,300 lbs. Using this tool to help determine if an animal has met its full natural potential helps ensure that we are only harvesting the highest quality animals which in turn means our customers are truly receiving the best of the best!

Each shipment our Brasas Ranch Subscription customers receive represents a commitment to producing high quality Wagyu beef that is humanely and sustainably raised and more importantly is delicious to eat!

We hope you enjoy your next shipment of prime 100% grass fed Wagyu beef! Bon Appetit!