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Livestock Grader


Livestock graders serve the purpose of assuring that accurate grades are placed on livestock or meat that is sold according to standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).



What responsibilities will I have?

  • Determine the grade of market livestock with high accuracy based on the length of the animal, the degree of muscle, frame size and the amount of visible fat
  • Weigh livestock using livestock scales
  • Assign grades according to USDA standards
  • Complete and file grading paperwork
  • Keep abreast of specific livestock markets
  • Attend livestock sales or visit sites like 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


What education and training is required?

An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in animal science, meat science, agriculture, agribusiness or a related field is desired. Often, livestock graders must be certified by the United States Department of Agriculture.


To pursue a career as a Livestock Grader:

The following high school courses are recommended: agricultural education, biology, anatomy, business courses, economics, government, and computer courses. It is also recommended that an aspiring livestock grader take part in livestock judging contests.


Where can I work?

Livestock graders are typically employed by government agencies like state Departments of Agriculture, but they find themselves working in environments like large farms or feedlots, processing plants, stockyards, sale barns or auctions.


Future Job Market / Outlook

The future outlook for a livestock grader will be fair over the next five years. 


Suggested Professional Organizations and Associations

  • American Meat Science Association
  • American Poultry Association
  • National Agri-Marketing Association
  • National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research
  • National Meat Association
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
  • National Lamb Feeders Association
  • National Pork Board
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