Livestock/Meat Grader

Livestock graders serve the purpose of assuring that accurate grades are placed on livestock that is sold according to standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Meat graders assign similar grades to products after the animal is processed. Grades are determined based on the length of the animal, the degree of muscle, frame size and the amount of visible fat.

What Responsibilities Will I Have?

  • Assign grades according to USDA standards with high accuracy
  • Weigh livestock using livestock scales
  • Complete and file grading paperwork
  • Attend livestock sales
  • Visit farms or feedlots where grading is requested
  • Collect product information from sellers
  • Work closely with marketing specialists and buyers
  • Remain up to date on industry trends and news including desirable qualities of livestock, average prices and market trends across the industry
  • Have a working understanding of the visual indicators of all USDA grades for livestock and/or meat grades

Recommended High School Courses:

  • agricultural education
  • animal science
  • biology
  • anatomy
  • business
  • economics
  • computer skills

It is also recommended that aspiring livestock/meat graders take part in meat judging or livestock judging contests to gain experience.

Education/Training Required:

An associate or bachelor’s degree in animal science, meat science, agriculture, agribusiness or a related field is beneficial but not required. Livestock and meat graders must be certified by the USDA.

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