Are your steers up to the challenge?

SteersHealth Track cattle, such as these on the farm of Jim Novinger in Kirksville, Mo., may be eligible to compete in the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association Profitability Challenge. MFA is among the contest’s supporters.There is a new game in town that promises genuine insight into the world of beef production. It is a “Profitability Challenge” that will use the latest beef industry technology to identify Missouri’s “Top 100 Steers.”

MFA Incorporated is dedicating considerable resources in support of this valuable project, also supported by the Mis­souri Cattlemen’s Association, the University of Missouri, GrowSafe, Idexx, Elanco and Valley Oaks Steak Company.

This is a great way to promote MFA’s com­mitment to young beef producers, highlight the value of Health Track preconditioning and pro­mote Missouri beef in a way that hasn’t been done before. In the end, the winning steers will be the ones with the highest total profitability.

The science

Renovations are being made at the MU South Farm in Columbia, Mo., to provide indoor housing for 100 steers that will be monitored using the latest GrowSafe technology. This equipment will measure individual feed intake and weight gain each time the cattle eat or drink from delivery to finish, which allows individual feed efficiency and overall performance to be determined. This system will also decide an optimum harvest date, and the steers will all be harvested at the Valley Oaks facility in Lone Jack, Mo., where carcass value will be determined on a standard grid.

The contest

The steers will be ranked in order of their overall profit­ability, which is a combination of performance and carcass value. There are cash prizes for the winners, but more im­portantly, producers earn bragging rights and the ability to measure genetics. All data will be shared with participating producers, although ownership of each steer will only be known by the participant during the contest.

As data is collected every day, a “Fantasy Football”-type contest will be available to local FFA chapters. The FFA members will be able to see each steer’s progress, build their “teams” and rank the steers. The final tally will occur after all of the steers have been harvested and carcass value is added to the profitability calculation.

The terms

Entry deadline is Sept. 13. All steers entered must have been preconditioned and approved through the MFA Health Track program. In addition, they must test persistently infected (PI) negative through IDEXX Laboratories prior to delivery. De­livery will be accepted only on Nov. 9 at the MU South Farm Beef Research Center. The weight after a settling-in period must be between 618 and 840 pounds. To get detailed data at the end of the contest, producers are required to donate half the value of the delivered steer to Missouri Cattlemen’s Asso­ciation to help protect the viability of the beef industry.

For more details, visit www.mocattle.org/meetings-events/profitability-challenge. For more information on how to enroll calves into the Health Track program, contact your local MFA retail location or MFA livestock sales repre­sentative.

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