The “Best of the Breed” Angus contest gives cattlemen the chance to put their herds where the money is.

Cattlemen say they'll produce high-quality, consistent beef when paid to do so. The time has come for U.S. ranchers and feeders to find out just how good a product they can produce — and get paid for it.

The “Best of the Breed” Angus carcass challenge will reward production of superior cattle genetics and management with nearly $250,000 in premiums. Enrollment begins this month.

The winners, determined by highest beef value on a Farmland National Beef (FNB) special contest grid, will be announced at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) annual conference in January 2003.

Clearly a contest for Angus and Angus-cross cattle, the program requires that at least 75% of the enrolled steers meet Certified Angus Beef (CAB) specifications. A $4/head entry fee is required prior to placement on feed in an approved feedlot. Minimum lot size is 80 head. Producers may combine ownership, and the number of entries is unlimited.

The top three lots will win cash prizes of $100,000, $50,000 and $25,000 for first through third place, respectively. In addition, cash prizes of $5,000, $2,500 and $1,000 will be paid to the top entries in each of the seven NCBA regions.

Corporate sponsors include AgriBeef Co., Allflex USA, CAB, FNB and Merial SureHealth.

Merial has announced it will kick in another $100,000 for the grand prize winner, provided the lot has been through the SureHealth program.

All entries must be raised in quality-controlled, process-verified systems, says Calvin Gunther, contest director.

“Calf and yearling steers must be fed in CAB-licensed or contest-approved Beef Quality Assurance yards,” he says.

All cattle will be processed at FNB in Liberal, KS. Cattle can be sold on the Best of the Breed grid or any other method to Farmland, but contest winners will be determined by placing official USDA slaughter data on a fixed-value contest grid. Winners will have the highest figure when gross dollars from the contest grid are divided by total pounds produced in the enrolled pen.

All steers must be ear-tagged with Allflex electronic identification tags and must be scheduled for harvest at least two weeks prior to shipment. At least 96% of each enrolled pen must be marketed to be eligible.

Sponsors plan to continue the contest with cattle harvested by July 1 each year. For more information, call 866/262-1160, or visit www.bestofthebreed.com.