Winners of the 2013 Carcass Data Project (CDP) didn’t leave a lot of room for outliers.
The top three contestants’ data in the Kansas Angus Association (KAA) annual contest were of exceptional quality and within 3 percentage points, at 89%, 88% and 86% Prime and Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand acceptance. Final standings were based on the top three calves from any owner, taking gain and CAB acceptance into account.
With eight of John Wendling’s nine steers qualifying for the CAB brand, he edged out the competition and took home top honors with a $500 cash prize.
The cattle were fed at McPherson County Feeders, a CAB partner yard near Marquette, Kan., which has hosted the CDP the past three years.
“All the cattle in the contest had good numbers,” Wendling said. “I was just lucky to have the right number with the right percentage to win.”
But the real prize, he said, was the data that came back after the contest. He usually finishes the cattle at the Halstead, Kan., ranch he operates with his father and grandfather.
“I look at the data and still see places to improve on,” Wendling said. “We just want to use that data to keep improving and see how we can do better.”
All the animals entered the yard in December 2012 with a minimum of 5 head per contestant. In the six months at McPherson, Wendling’s cattle gained an average 3.84 pounds per day (ADG).
“We’ve always had quite a bit of growth in those cattle, and we recently have been trying to add marbling and ribeye to them, working to put more emphasis on some of the carcass traits,” he said.
Both Wendling and second-place finisher Molitor Angus were rookies to the contest this year, although neither are strangers to the Angus business or tough competition.
Mike Molitor knows the whole range of the beef supply chain, from conception to center of the plate at his CAB-licensed restaurant, The Lumberyard, in hometown Zenda, Kan. His CDP pen of 25 calves that made 88% CAB and Prime came from the bottom end that didn’t make his registered bull sale..
“We base all our selection on a competition,” he said. “These calves got steered not because they didn’t have the genetic potential, but because they had tough competition at home.”
They were likely later-born calves.
“But then you put them in the feedlot, and they grow. They express that potential,” Molitor said. Most of them were AI-sired calves with a known genetic history, he added, and the data feedback from the contest will continue to help him and his bull customers build and prove numbers in the American Angus Association database. He earned a $300 cash prize.