High quality beef and a moderate cost of production are two of the general measures used by the Iowa Cattlemen's Association in its Carcass Challenge competition that wrapped up with awards in Ames earlier this month.
Awards to the top steers in the group of 68 were given in many areas, but the two main categories were Carcass Merit and Retail Value per Day on Feed (RVDoF). Both are value-added calculations that consider important consumer quality issues such as tenderness and flavor; and also a key farmer issue: profitability. RVDoF adds in a time factor (days on feed). Additional awards made in the contest were for the highest Average Daily Gain; the Largest Ribeye Area, the top marbling score, and the chef award, which recognizes a 12- to 14-inch ribeye with the highest marbling score.
A donated steer from Accu-Steel, Inc., with its 13.8 square inches of ribeye and high choice grading, took home three awards from the contest. The black steer came from the cow-calf herd of Andy Smith of St. Anthony, and won the top Carcass Merit award, along with the top marbling score and the chef award. Jason Owen, Accu-Steel Inc. president, and Smith, left the contest with $1,250 in cash prizes. This is the second year the two have teamed up for a top award.
A Charolais-cross steer from the herd of Dale and Deb Stillmunkes of Bellevue, which was co-sponsored by Dr. Phil Reemtsma of DeWitt, took the top $750 prize in the RVDoF category. The steer was a yield grade 2, and gained 5 pounds per day on feed. That kind of performance showed the steer adding $7.85 of value for every day on feed.
Other winners in the two categories are:
Carcass Merit: Second place ($500) to the Simmental-cross sponsored by the Henry County Cattlemen's Association. The steer was raised by Mike Moothart, Mt. Pleasant. Third place ($250) was donated by Al and Carol Johnson, Northwood, and Younge Cattle Company, Ventura.
The fourth place ($250) steer was raised by Brian Wilson of Monroe, and sponsored by the District 14 Cattlemen, which includes Jasper, Marion and Warren County Cattlemen. Fifth place was earned by a steer raised by Scott Cherne, Guttenberg; and sponsored by Rob Medberry, Volga; Nick Echard, Farmersburg; and Ryan Zitelman, Strawberry Point.
RVDoF: Second place ($500) went to a steer raised by Gary Horn, Pulaski, and sponsored by Davis County Cattlemen. Third place ($250) went to a steer raised and sponsored by Sebetka Farms of Norway. That steer also won the award ($250) for having the highest average daily gain, which was 5.06 pounds. The fourth place ($250) steer also won the award for having the largest ribeye area (18 inches), and was raised by Jason Kurt, Cascade, and sponsored by Innovative Ag Services, River Valley Co-op and Quality Liquid Feeds (QLF). The fifth place ($250) steer was raised by Ron Overberg, West Point, and sponsored by the Lee County Cattlemen's Association.
In addition to the cash prizes, all award winners received a Carcass Challenge Top Ten jacket and a Carcass Challenge hat.
Deadline to register for next Carcass Challenge is Oct. 1
The ICA Carcass Challenge was developed to bring back a statewide carcass contest for cattle producers. The contest is organized by ICA's Young Cattlemen's Leadership Program (YCLP) as "an educational effort to stress that each step in the value-chain affects the end product," said Kellie Carolan, ICA's seedstock manager.
Carolan, who oversaw the contest, noted that "Genetics, feed regimen and technology all played a part in taking this set of 68 steers from an average delivery weight of 695 pounds to 1,427 pounds over a six-month feeding period."
Plans are underway for ICA's next Carcass Challenge contest. Deadline for registering a spring 2014 steer for the contest is October 1. Details and entry requirements can be found on the ICA website under the ICA Programs tab. The 2014 YCLP class will soon work on recruiting steer donors for the contest, but anyone interested in participating can call ICA at 515-296-2266 to get involved. "Those who donate steers will experience a fun and educational event," says Carolan.