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Every number has a story: 12.1 million

Like many writers, I find large numbers (or large numbers of numbers) a little overwhelming. Mama tried, as the song says, but I didn’t inherit her gift for mathematics.

So when asked to write about the 12.1 million pounds of Certified Angus Beef® brand Prime sold in fiscal year 2015, I had to do a little visualization. But how do you visualize 12.1 million pounds? If you’re me, you turn to Google and spend a little too much time finding out what a whole bunch of random items weigh.

The best comparison I found? 480 school buses weigh approximately 12 million pounds. Imagine 480 school buses worth of the most luxurious beef available.

FeedlotAnd that number is growing. In fact, it’s up 1.7% since fiscal year 2014.

Mark tells me it’s no accident, either.

“Historically, cattle feeders were pleasantly surprised when they got their kill sheet and saw some cattle graded Prime,” he says. “It was like pennies from heaven. Today, those feeding high quality genetics know it’s not uncommon to get 5- to 10- percent or more hitting Prime, and the dollars associated with those cattle can be the difference in making a pen of cattle profitable.”

For years, the USDA Prime percentage lingered around 2 or 3%. Most just accepted those were the outliers that randomly occurred in our cattle mix but few probably thought we could make more.

Now we have genetics that reach the Prime grade at a high and predictable rate, Mark says.

Here’s to many more school busses in the coming years.


Katrina Huffstutler is a freelance writer based in Electra, Texas. She’s a frequent contributor to the Black Ink team and lover of functional cattle and quality beef.


Read our whole, “Every number has a story” series:

Day one: $6.93

Day two: 2.5 million

Day three: $204.10

Day four: 12.1 million

Day five: 11/13

Day six: 8 million

Day seven: 139

Day eight: $39

Day nine: 30.1%

Day 10: 120 million

Day 11: -2.26

Day 12: 12 to 15 minutes 

Day 13: 30%

Day 14: 32 million

Day 15: $154,000

Ride along with the Certified Angus Beef supply development team as we work to help cattlemen put more black ink in their record books with cattle management news, tips and ideas to profitably improve quality. CAB is a nonprofit subsidiary of the American Angus Association. It was founded in 1978 as the first fresh beef brand based on specifications, and remains the largest in the world. We spend every day working with cattlemen and women across the country to help them better supply the CAB brand with high-quality beef. Join us for a view from many a pickups' passenger seat.
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