Livestock Grader

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). 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?: 
  • Determine the grade of market livestock with high accuracy
  • Weigh livestock using livestock scales
  • Assign grades according to USDA standards
  • Complete and file grading paperwork
  • Be aware of specific livestock markets
  • 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
Recommended High School Courses: 
The following high school courses are recommended: agricultural education, biology, anatomy, business, economics, government and computer skills. It is also recommended that an aspiring livestock grader take part in livestock judging contests.
Education/Training Required: 
An associate 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 USDA.
Future Job Market Outlook: 
Typical Employers: 
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.
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
Average Annual Full-Time Salary: 
$34,000
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Salary data is provided by the AgCareers.com Compensation Benchmark Review™. These salaries should be considered as examples and are provided for educational and exploratory purposes. The salary information provided should not be used as a benchmark. Actual salaries are influenced by numerous variables including but not limited to demographics, size and scope of the role, level of experience, qualifications, and education of the worker.