In the system of classification presented in this bulletin, class is determined by the sex condition of the animal from which the beef was derived. Although that is true, the real significance of sex condition consists in the fact that it implies uniform variations in degree of one or more of the three fundamental characteristicsquality, conformation, and finish.
For example, steer beef is, on the whole, uniformly superior in conformation to cow beef. Bull beef as a class is uniformly inferior in quality to steer or heifer beef. Hence, a given carcass is placed in the steer-beef class primarily because the animal which produced it was a steer, but the act of so placing the carcass derives its chief justification from the fact that steers, as a class, represent a certain uniform combination of quality, conformation, and finish.
In a given class, quality, conformation and finish appear in a fairly definite ratio, and this ratio shows only slight variations within the class. Each class has its own ratio which distinguishes it from every other class. These distinctive ratios are due to sex condition.
All beef, then, is divided into five classessteer, heifer, cow, bull, and stag.
Perhaps variation in conformation constitutes the greatest difference between classes, but between certain classes the difference in quality is very great. In the following definitions an effort has been made to point out the important difference between classes and to indicate the degree of variation in fundamental characteristics.
These definitions consist largely in describing the physical characteristics of each class, which amounts in most cases to comparing one class with other classes in respect to the degree of quality, conformation, and finish. In all such comparisons it is understood that the things compared are of the same grade. For example, steer beef as a class possesses better finish than cow beef, but the statement would not hold if Common steer beef were compared with Choice cow beef.