Age 13 & Under

$500 savings bond and trophy
Kara Easter
Jacksboro, TX

Age 14-18

$500 savings bond and trophy
Dustin Wells
Licking, MO

Feedyard Team

$5,000 in Fort Dodge Animal Health products
Sid Sawyer, left, and Fran Haefner Buffalo Feeders
Buffalo, OK

In the October issue of BEEF, the 2001 Beef Quality Challenge asked you to select the top five steers on a net return basis out of a group of 20 steers (two pens of 10 steers). These steers were from different backgrounds and different breed types. In this contest, Pen B, which included VAC-45 preconditioned cattle from a known source, was superior in every measurable trait when compared to Pen A, which included steers of unknown history.

Some individuals in Pen A excelled in feedlot performance or carcass quality, but their performance was negated by those that died, became sick or were low performers. The VAC-45 calves did cost more to purchase, but along with that cost came the benefits of reduced risk of illness and poor performance.

Interestingly, no contest entrant correctly selected the top five net return steers, which tells us visual appraisal can''t replace good information when evaluating calves. (See results in the December issue of BEEF.)

For ranchers, stocker operators and feeders, here''s the take-home advice:

  • Learn the feedyard and carcass characteristics of your cattle. Many animal science state Extension programs have information feedback programs that allow you to put cattle on feed and get feedyard performance and carcass data. This data could help you understand how your cattle fit within different marketing options.

  • Before selling cattle on a carcass grid basis, know the track record of similar groups of cattle.

  • A proper healthcare vaccination program for weaned calves and backgrounded calves (specifically a VAC-45 equivalent program) has great potential in improving feedyard health, growth and carcass traits and reducing economic risk.

  • To optimize cattle management, sort cattle into pens similar in frame size, weight and muscling. When these similar groups are properly managed, the number of “outs” will be reduced, and they will produce a more consistent product for the next beef production segment.

I hope the 2001 Beef Quality Challenge helped you better understand the factors that influence the value and quality of cattle from the time they''re purchased as feeder calves and placed in the feedyard to the time they''re sold to the packer. I also hope the contest created a forum for discussion with your friends, family, students and/or colleagues.

My congratulations to the winners posted above. Thank you all for your participation.

In addition, my special thanks for the contributions to the 2001 Beef Quality Challenge provided by: Fort Dodge Animal Health; BEEF magazine; Greg Miller, eMerge; Texas A&M University Research Center staff at McGregor; David Lunt, Davey Griffin, Ted McCollum, John McNeill and Gordon Carstens of Texas A&M University; and Mike De La Zerda and Doug Perkins, Texas Beef Council.

Cordially,

Editor''s Note: The winner of $2,000 in Fort Dodge Animal Health products (in the age 19 and over category) is Sonnie Grissom, Stephenville, TX, who is not pictured.