What We Learned We hope the Beef Quality Challenge has graphically illustrated the challenges that face the beef industry. It's difficult to accurately evaluate beef cattle on a live basis. There are two reasons for this:

Visual appraisal of cattle for quality is difficult.

Many cattle producers are not well versed on the quality and value factors at the feedlot and packing sectors of the beef industry.

This contest was designed to challenge some misperceptions about how certain types of cattle perform from health, feedlot and carcass standpoints. There are good and bad performing cattle in every breed type, yet these breed type and color of hide perceptions may actually work against correctly evaluating feedlot steers and heifers.

Now that you know the contest results and better understand the quality challenges facing the industry, what should you do?

Find out as much as possible about your cattle's health, feedlot performance and carcass merit. You need to know your starting quality level to determine where you are and in what direction you need to move to improve the value and quality of your cattle.

Secondly, learn as much as possible about the entire cattle industry from gate to plate. Education in the areas of management, marketing, breeding and selection, meat processing, retail and foodservice will help you develop strategies to not only produce a higher quality product but capture the reward for your efforts.