Ultrasound Guidelines Council Update
Executive director provides update on equipment accuracy, certification.
DES MOINES, IOWA (June 24, 2021) — The Ultrasound Guidelines Council (UGC) is responsible for testing and certification of field technicians that scan cattle for measurement of beef composition traits, as well as the lab technicians that interpret results. UGC includes representation from beef breed organizations, university personnel involved in ultrasound research and ultrasound use for national cattle evaluation programs, and representation from the ranks of both field and lab technicians.
Iowa State University Extension Specialist and UGC Executive Director Patrick Wall discussed recent happenings and changes to UGC protocols at the 2021 Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium & Convention hosted June 22-25 in Des Moines, Iowa. Wall delivered his report during a meeting devoted to advancements in end product improvement. He talked about testing of ultrasound technician proficiency and equipment tests involving comparison of ultrasound measurement of carcass traits with actual carcass data collected on the same cattle at harvest.
Wall said UGC has continued to test lab technicians, noting that there are some 30 UGC-certified lab technicians associated with three accredited laboratories. Regarding testing of field technicians and their equipment, all active machines must have respective scan results tested against actual carcass data every four years. He said field certification has been completed for all technicians and their machines.
According to Wall, testing of all technician-machine combinations was overdue because some machines long-used in the field had not had scan results compared with actual carcass data for up to 15 years. Additionally, some technicians had purchased new machines for which no carcass data comparisons had been made. However, a surprising number of field technicians continue to use machines representing relatively old technology.
“About 47% of technicians are using obsolete technology that is no longer manufactured and no longer serviced,” said Wall. “Some of the established technologies performed poorly against carcass data.”
Additionally, Wall reported that some technicians have more than one machine — more than one kind of technology — but UGC can test just one at a time. That’s a concern that must be addressed. Another concern mentioned was the continuing challenge of gaining access to packing plants for carcass data collection.
Wall noted that UGC has a new website found at ultrasoundguidelinescouncil.org.
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