Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Mission Being Accomplished with Carcass Challenge Contest

Five years ago, the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association developed a program with several goals in mind to benefit the cattle producers and friends of the industry of Iowa. As time has worked forward, we have seen those goals being met through the data collected and the feedback from the participants in the program. The Carcass Challenge Contest is a statewide event that provides information to every sector in the beef industry and could not have been a success without the support of everyone involved.

Three of the objectives behind the contest were to showcase Iowa’s feeder cattle genetics and feedyard performance, offer a fun, competitive statewide contest to demonstrate Iowa’s beef production advantages and raise non-dues revenue, which the ICA then invests in educational events for all sectors of the beef industry. One other objective was to provide the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Program (YCLP) with not only funding, but a team project to encourage leadership skills with working with a group to achieve a common goal. The last objective was to provide quality information that producers could use to make sire selections and mating decisions based on the performance of the cattle. We have seen results from all of these objectives grow as the contest continues.

Nothing could illustrate this better than listening to a young producer from Marshall County who has been involved in the program since 2011. Andy Smith of Clemons, IA is a true testament of the Carcass Challenge Contest and how he has used the program to better his own operation. Andy’s first involvement started with a call to his brother, Eric, who is a veterinarian in Victor, IA that was asked by a 2011 YCLP class participant to sponsor a steer. This was the first that the Smith family had heard of either program and from there the family’s involvement has grown into a passion for the contest.
Andy and Michelle Smith with their children and Andy's parents, Steve and Sharon Smith.

In 2012, Andy joined the YCLP class and participated in the team project of working together to recruit steers from across the state to enter into the Carcass Challenge Contest. The interest in participating in the Carcass Challenge is a continuation of the Performance Beef Program that Andy, his brother, his sister and cousin all took part of while in FFA at the County Fair. Andy is interested in how the cattle perform and utilizing the data to make sire selections to enhance the carcass merit genetics in his cow herd.

Andy and his wife, Michelle, along with his mom, Sharon, and father, Steve, run an Angus based cow herd that stems from his grandpa’s Milking Shorthorn herd. While managing the cow/calf operation, the Smiths farm 700 acres of row crops and Andy is also employed by Accusteel. Through the process of showing cattle and using AI, Andy has phased out most of the Shorthorn and has tripled the size of the cow herd.

Andy has two major goals that he is continuously working towards. At this time, Andy sells most of his calves as feeder cattle, but is striving to build facilities to feed out his own calves all while building the cow herd. He is hoping to use the information provided by the Carcass Challenge to improve his carcass merit genetics to where all of his cattle grade Certified Angus Beef (CAB) and eventually to grade all Prime. This will be achieved through good management practices and genetic selection.  

“I use the Carcass Challenge information as a tool in making mating decisions and pairing cattle that performed well in the previous years,” says Andy. “It’s also the friendly competition that allows me to network with other producers from around the state and having a good time with it that makes the contest worth it.”

2016 Carcass Challenge & Membership Awards 

 On June 9, the winners of the 2016 Carcass Challenge were revealed at the Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center. Awards were given to the top steers in the group of 55 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 producer issue-profitability. RVDoF adds in a time factor (days on feed). Additional awards given in the contest were for the Highest Average Daily Gain, Largest Ribeye Area, Highest Marbling Score and the Chef Award, which recognizes a 12-14 inch ribeye with the highest marbling score. The winners all received a cash prize and jacket to showcase their accomplishment.

The top prize winner ($750) in the Carcass Merit category went to Tri Vet Associates & Pine View Farms LLC raised by John Wessel of Farley, Iowa. The Angus steer graded Choice yield grade two with a 14.5 inch ribeye area. The second place finisher ($500) went to Adams County Cattlemen raised by John Schuler of Cumberland. The third placed ($250) steer was raised by Eric Gerdes of West Pointe, IA and sponsored by the Lee County Cattlemen. Fourth place ($250) was taken home by Bard Materials that sponsored the Angus steer raised by Lyle Gossling of Farley. Rounding out the Carcass Merit category ($250) was the steer sponsored and raised by Brad Kooima from Rock Valley.

In the Retail Value per Day on Feed category, the top award winner ($750) went to the Delaware, Dubuque and Jones County Cattlemen. The Angus steer was raised by Jason Kurt of Cascade that graded Choice yield grade three with a 4.66 pound average daily gain while on-test. The second place award winner ($500) went to the Iowa Maine Anjou Association, American Maine Anjou and Audubon-Manning Vet Clinic. The Maine Anjou steer was raised by Kenny Grimm from Audubon. Third place winner ($250) went to Larry Johnson with Johnson Family Farms who also raised the red steer from Maquoketa. The fourth placed award winner ($250) went to Ryan and Alle Bailey of Diagonal. The Bailey’s also raised the Charolais x Angus cross steer. The fifth placed steer ($250) was sponsored by PMC Agri-Services, Dan & Deb Kent & Kevin Kent Construction and raised by Warren Moeller of Miles.

Winners in the individual categories are Knoxville Regional Livestock Market for having highest Average Daily Gain of 4.75 pounds per day. The winner of the Largest Ribeye went to Larry Johnson with Johnson Family Farms with the steer that had a 17.1 inch ribeye area. The winner of the top Marbling Score and the Chef’s Award went to the Akaushi x Simmental steer sponsored by Lee County Cattlemen.

We are already making plans for the next Carcass Challenge Contest. The deadline for registering a spring 2016 steer for the contest is October 5th. Details and entry requirements can be found on the ICA website under the ICA Programs tab. The 2016 YCLP class will soon be working on recruiting steer donors for the contest, but anyone interested in participating in the program can call the ICA office at 515.296.2266 to get involved.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

2015-2016 Carcass Challenge Steers
2015 - 2016 Carcass Challenge Steers

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