Armes Wins Collegiate Fed Beef Challenge Live Evaluation

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 05/18/2017

Goodwell, Okla. — Oklahoma Panhandle State University students recently competed in a live cattle evaluation contest at the Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA) Fed Beef Challenge in Amarillo, Texas. Senior Matt Armes won the collegiate category and senior Mary Frances Small finished third in the same division. The Panhandle State students are enrolled in a course called Technical Feedlot Operations taught by Daren Stephens.

Each spring, TCFA hosts its Fed Beef Challenge and member feedyards send their best steers or heifers to compete for top carcass honors. Also, live cattle evaluation contests allow feedyard managers, college students and the public to compete.

The Fed Beef Challenge is a learning experience as well as an opportunity to get together for a good time. Activities conclude with a steak dinner for all participants and fundraiser benefiting the TCFA Education Foundation.

This year, the challenge brought 25 feedyards from Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico to Amarillo for the opportunity to show off their best cattle and win prizes. A total of 59 pens were entered this year and were scored on an index using a base of 100 points that is adjusted for industry markers such as ribeye area, fat thickness, quality grade and yield grade.

The live evaluation component has four different divisions: Managers “judge your own” contest, Feedyard Employee division, Collegiate division, and the Public division.

Contestants evaluate 10 pens of fed cattle with three head per pen. The contestants evaluate the three head on average for ribeye area (square inches), back fat, yield grade and quality grade. Additionally, one of the three head is identified and the same attributes are evaluated on that individual.

The attributes that are being evaluated are economically relevant traits in determining carcass worth in a value based marketing system (grids/formula marketing) which is currently the most prevalent marketing method for live cattle.

Matt Armes said, “It was a good experience and all of our Animal Science classes really helped prepare us for it. Mr. Stephens is a great teacher. He had us ready to go when we got there and TCFA put on a great event.”

Students representing Panhandle State include: Matt Armes, Mary Frances Small, Ben Johnsrud, Augustus Jones and Tate Mitchell.

Armes won a $1000 scholarship and Small won a $500 scholarship.

Panhandle State Agriculture Instructor and Director of Firestone Meat Lab Daren Stephens said, “I am proud of the students that travelled and competed at the TCFA Fed Beef challenge and appreciate the scholarship funds provided by the TCFA to the individuals that placed. The contest is a fun and laid back format that I enjoy taking students to compete in. The format also allows students to mingle and network with individuals that are working in the fed beef industry and meet other alumni that are currently working in this field. The students always enjoy the contest and the steak supper at the conclusion of the event.”

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