Congratulations to the category winners of the "Pick A Pen For Profit" contest. Of 1,000 entrants, only 40 selected the correct pen (Pen 1) as the best set of cattle for carcass value. No entrant, regardless of entry category, ranked pens correctly in all three areas of feedyard health, feed efficiency and carcass value/cwt. of carcass.

The results attest to the difficulty in evaluating cattle using visual evaluation. It also illustrates the need for a better understanding by producers of the meaning behind the type of information that was presented with the cattle. I hope December's BEEF articles shed light on the factors to examine and consider when selecting feeder calves.

The cattle pens in the contest demonstrated the potential value of:

- Learning about the feedyard and carcass characteristics of your cattle.

- Selling cattle on a Carcass Grid basis.

- Having a track record on how similar groups have performed in the cooler.

- Implementing an effective health care vaccination program for weaned calves.

- Backgrounding calves.

- Sorting cattle into pens of similar frame size, weight and muscling.

Thank you all for participating; a special thanks to sponsors BEEF, Fort Dodge Animal Health, C Bar Feedyard and the Texas Beef Council; and my appreciation to Ted McCollum, Doug Perkins and Scott McNeill for their technical assistance.