Breeders, producers, packers, retailers, and researchers are becoming more concerned about carcass traits, as the livestock industry moves closer to the concept of value-based marketing. Animal scientists have desired the ability to determine the carcass traits of composition and quality in live animals as aids in selection of breeding stock and ideal marketing time for slaughter animals, to study the mechanism of growth and development, and to understand the effect of nutrition. This has led to the development of noninvasive objective evaluation methods including ultrasound. Early ultrasound equipment was large and had limited performance capabilities. Subsequent developments have resulted in high-performance, durable, and lightweight ultrasound equipment that is associated with portable computers and sophisticated software. These systems produce rapid and accurate information for determining composition and quality characteristics of live animals and carcasses.

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