One group came from Nebraska, the other from Oklahoma. One rancher retained ownership, the other sold outright. But the two sets of cattle fed at separate feedlots in different states have a few shared qualities.
They both took home first-place regional finishes in the third quarter of the AngusSource® Carcass Challenge (ASCC). The contest recognizes genetic-, source-, and age-verified calves that excel in carcass quality. During the July-to-September time frame, winners were named in the North Central and Southeastern regions.
Beller Corporation, Lindsay, Neb., purchased cattle that finished at 69.1 percent Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) and Prime—nearly four times the national average. They edged out a second group owned and entered by the same feedlot for the top spot in the region. Both groups were sired by bulls from past National Angus Carcass Challenge winner, Gray's Angus Ranch, near Harrison, Neb.
In the Southeast, Jimmy Taylor, Elk City, Okla., sent his AngusSource-tagged calves to Cattleman's Choice Feedlot, Gage, Okla. There they made 67.7 percent CAB and Prime.
When the year-long contest ends in December, an overall winner will receive a $500 cash prize. “We've discovered more and more high-quality herds across the country as the Challenge continues,” says Sara Snider, AngusSource director.
Doug Beller, along with his brothers Dennis and Duane understand the program and the cattle they entered. They've been buying the tagged calves from Rodney Gray for the past two years after meeting through a bull-buying customer who was also a longtime Beller supplier.
“There's an advantage to buying from the same source: You know what you've got,” Beller says. “When we get them, we probably know within a week of when we're going to sell them.”
Gray, who runs 550 registered Angus cattle, appreciates a consistent buyer, too.
“They give us a premium price, but we also want the carcass data back on our steers,” he says. The winning group represented Gray's calf crop that didn't make the cut for their annual bull sale. They were sent to the feedlot as 650-lb. preconditioned steer calves.
“We've been using the data for selection in our breeding program,” Gray says.
That type of information exchange was a new concept to Taylor, who fed cattle for the first time this year.
“When I was looking for something to add value to each calf I sold, I looked at AngusSource,” he says. Following through on that initial investment, he sought out CAB-licensed Cattleman's Choice.
“We set the standards pretty high here, but I'm going to have to work really hard to keep going on this level,” says Dale Moore, owner/manager.
Taylor often buys and develops replacement heifers in addition to running 500 mature cows. The feedyard gave him detailed carcass data, sorted by sire group and dam family, which will assist in future purchases and mating decisions.
“This group was out of first-calf heifers and the majority was all out of one bull. Usually with first-calf heifers you give up a little bit, but I didn't here,” Taylor says.
The performance numbers complete the package with the cattle gaining 3.71 lb. per day and converting at 5.81 lb. of feed per pound of gain.
Aside from their part in producing top notch Angus cattle, the feeders and ranchers also share a mutual appreciation of the source- and age-verified program they use.
“I respect AngusSource, because it has strong standards to prove these cattle are not just black,” Moore says. “Whenever I'm buying cattle, if they have an AngusSource tag in them, I know what I'm getting.”
Beller notes the program allows for minimal paperwork, and Taylor says that enrollment is even easier the second time around.
Groups of 38 head or more, enrolled in AngusSource at the ranch of origin and fed at a CAB-licensed feedyard, are eligible for the contest. As long as they are harvested in one group, both mixed-sex and lots with multiple owners are accepted. For more information on the ASCC call 816-383-5100 or visit www.AngusSource.com.