Six years ago, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association developed a program to benefit Iowa cattle producers and friends of the industry. The Carcass Challenge Contest showcases Iowa’s feeder cattle genetics and feedyard performance; offers a fun, competitive statewide contest to demonstrate Iowa’s beef production opportunities and advantages; and raises revenue, which the ICA then invests in educational events for all sectors of the beef industry.
The 2016-17 Carcass Challenge Contest included a few changes to the program. For starters, the 2016 Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program recruited a record number of 81 head of steers to be fed at Kennedy Cattle Co. of Atlantic. The steers were delivered in early November and marketed in May. Proceeds from the steers help fund YCLP.
Contest offers educational opportunities
Throughout the program, data was gathered to be used for educational purposes. Biweekly email communications with sponsors and donors provided updates on the steers and educational information on the data collected.
David Trowbridge and Faye French with Gregory Feedlots, along with Matt Groves with the Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity Co-op, played a major role in developing advanced educational materials. New charts and graphs were created to display the data that was collected and showcase different performance traits, offering an opportunity to “see” the steers’ performance on paper. Program participants could see how genetics and a pre-contest environment affected the cattle.
In February, ICA and Kennedy Cattle hosted an open house at the feedlot for everyone involved with the program. The steers had been on feed for three months, weighed twice and given an ultrasound twice, and then the data was interpreted. Afterward, the steers were re-implanted. The group was presented with educational charts and graphs and given the opportunity to visit with Trowbridge and Groves to discuss the information as a group. Zak and Mitch Kennedy also shared their philosophy on feeding and handling cattle.
Contest based on performance, carcass data
On June 1, ICA hosted the sixth annual Carcass Challenge Banquet at Iowa State University in Ames. The audience heard a presentation by Mallorie Wilken of Elanco Animal Health on benefits of using modern technology to advance cattle performance in the feedlot. Keynote speaker for the evening was Bob Fields with Global Protein Solutions. Fields’ presentation covered cattle marketing, domestic and international trade, and the beef product from a retailer’s point of view.
Awards were presented to the top 10% of steers, based on contest performance and carcass data that was taken at harvest on May 2 at the Tyson Plant in Dakota City. The main award is for Retail Value per Day on Feed. The RVDoF is a measurement of profitability and a value-added calculation that considers important consumer quality issues such as tenderness and flavor.
Additional awards in the contest are for highest average daily gain, largest ribeye area, highest marbling score and the chef award, which recognizes a 12- to 14-inch ribeye with the highest marbling score. Winners all receive an engraved rawhide banner and cash or merchandise. The top-winning steer donors were awarded a check for $5,000, which this year’s winners donated back to ICA.
2017 Carcass Challenge Contest winners
The 2017 first-place winner of the Carcass Challenge Contest in the RVDoF category was John Wessels with Pine View Angus of Colesburg and Mike Cline with Har-Mar Farms of Elgin. In second place, the award went to Rex Hoppes and Mike Henderson with Advanced Beef Genetics of Anita. Third-place winner was Brian McCulloh with Woodhill Farms of Viroqua, Wis. In fourth place was JD Morris of Algona and the Kossuth County Cattlemen, and fifth place went to Carl Bormann of Bancroft, also sponsored by Kossuth County Cattlemen.
Jim Bradford and the Guthrie County Cattlemen took home sixth place. The Jones, Delaware & Dubuque County Cattlemen steer raised by Jason Kurt walked away with seventh place. In eighth place, the award went to Brad Balsley of Floyd and Bob Noble of Riceville.
Winners of the individual categories were Pine View Angus and Har-Mar Farms for the Chef’s Award and the Highest Marbling Score of MDAB07. It was the highest marbling score ever in the history of the contest. Winner of the largest ribeye award went to Advanced Beef Genetics with a 17.1-inch ribeye area. Advanced Beef Genetics also took home the award for the highest average daily gain of 5.20 pounds per day.
Young cattle producers begin recruiting efforts
The Carcass Challenge provides the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program with not only funding, but a team project to encourage leadership skills. YCLP class members recruit steers and donors for the program, and proceeds from the sale of the steers funds the next class of YCLP participants.
ICA thanks all the sponsors, donors and everyone involved with the program. “We are already making plans for the next Carcass Challenge Contest,” says Katie Olthoff, ICA’s director of communications. Deadline for registering a spring 2017 steer for the contest is Oct. 6, 2017. Details and entry requirements can be found at iacattlemen.org under the “ICA programs” tab. The 2017 YCLP class will soon be working on recruiting steer donors for the contest, but anyone interested in participating in the program can call the ICA office at 515-296-2266 to get involved.
ICA represents nearly 10,000 beef-producing families and associated companies dedicated to the future of Iowa’s beef industry. ICA’s mission is “Grow Iowa’s beef business through advocacy, leadership and education.”
Source: Iowa Cattlemen’s Association