As producers are faced with the challenge of improving the consistency and efficiency of beef production, they are turning more and more to the use of technology to do so. Real-time carcass ultrasound offers producers a means of genetic improvement by enhancing the accuracy of their cattle's carcass EPDs. While the actual scan information itself can be interesting to review, it has little-to-no-value for genetic improvement unless incorporated into a genetic evaluation. 

Relative to progeny testing and actual carcass data collection, ultrasound is a less expensive and more efficient means of evaluating carcass traits in breeding seedstock. The phenotypes collected through ultrasound and used to enhance RAAA carcass EPDs are ribeye area (REA), back fat thickness (BF), percentage of intramuscular fat (IMF).

RAAA requires that these traits are collected by an Ultrasound Guidelines Council (UGC) Certified Field Technician and the images are interpreted by a UCG Certified Interpreter (lab). After the collection and interpretation process, the data is electronically sent to the RAAA National office where it is uploaded into the REDSPro database for use in EPD calculations.

Ultrasound is a great method for seedstock producers to evaluate the carcass traits in individuals that are not packer bound but will affect their bottom line on those that are. It is best to collect ultrasound information on as many animals in a contemporary group as possible, both males and females. 

Ultrasound data is a tool used to enhance the accuracies of carcass EPDs.

Data Requirements
  1. Animals must have weaning data on file in order for ultrasound information to be used.
  2. Animals should be 320 – 410 days of age. Any animal scanned that is younger than 270 days or older than 500 days will not be included.
  3. A scan weight must be collected at the time of ultrasound. If a yearling weight is not entered separately by the member, scan weights will automatically default to yearling weights as well.
  4. Animals must be submitted with the ID and registration number that corresponds to their RAAA registration certificate.


Management Codes and Contemporary Groups

A contemporary group is a set of cattle that are exposed to the same environmental conditions and includes ALL cattle within that environment. In addition to the following, animals must be contemporaries at birth and weaning in order to group together at ultrasound or yearling.

  1. Animals scanned on the same date.
  2. Animals with the same scan management code. Be sure to communicate with your technician about differences in management of animals that may be scanned on the same day so they can designate them accordingly.
  3. Group code - if animals are indicated as managed/fed differently, they will be contemporaried separately.

Data Collection


  1. Schedule an appointment with an Ultrasound Guideline Council (UGC) Certified Field Technician at least one month in advance. Coordinating scanning times with other producers may be less expensive if technicians are able to scan large numbers of cattle in a small geographical area. A list of technicians certified by UGC is available here.
  2. Provide technician with a barn sheet that includes all animals to be scanned.
    • When logged in to REDSPro, go to Reports/Downloads – My Reports.
    • Select a group on the left (i.e. 2021 born bulls) or enter the specific registration numbers under Quick Group.
    • Select the Ultrasound Barn Sheet on the right under Default Reports.
    • Generate Report and then Download into an Excel file to email to your technician or print off the page.

Ensure the correct facilities and responsibilities are covered by communicating with your scan technician and (if applicable) the facility manager. Examples of breeder/facility responsibilities include:

    • Squeeze chute in a location out of direct sunlight.
    • Electrical supply for ultrasound machines.
    • Cattle clipped to ½” in scanning locations.
    • Ability to collect and record animal weight.


  1. The scan technician sends images to an UGC certified lab to be interpreted and the resulting data is automatically forwarded to RAAA.
  2. RAAA staff will upload the data upon receipt from the lab. The member will be notified via email that the data has been received. Other parties will be notified only when contact information from the processing lab indicates to do so.
  3. Adjusted measurements are immediately available and can be found in REDSPro under Reports/Downloads – My Reports by generating an Ultrasound Summary Report or viewing the Expanded Report on an animal’s pedigree.
  4. EPDs will be updated automatically after the ultrasound information has been run through the subsequent weekly IGS-BOLT evaluation.