Purebred Angus cattle dominated the 2004 National Angus Carcass
Challenge (NACC), but they came from such diverse areas as Texas to
Montana, Idaho to Iowa. Winners were from a wide range of genetic and
management programs, fed in eight feedlots in five states and harvested
at eight plants in six states.
Stan and Brad Fansher, Garden City, KS., had their Grand Champion pen
fed by neighbor and feeding partner of 15 years, Sam Hands, Triangle H
Grain & Cattle Co. No one was surprised that these heifers did
well—their sisters won reserve division champion in the 2003 NACC, and
Fansher Angus Ranch supplies bulls for the ranch that had top value
CAB-fed pen in the 2002 Best of the Breed (BoB) contest.
The winning cattle were chosen by ultrasound from a group of 150, but
the entire group achieved 96 percent Choice or better. Harvested in
November at National Beef Packing, Dodge City, KS, the only surprise is
that the February-born heifers spent only 65 days in the finishing yard.
NACC is an annual beef value contest, sponsored in 2004 by Certified
Angus Beef LLC (CAB), Drovers magazine, Merial SureHealth, Farnam
Company, John Deere FoodOrigins and the American Angus Association.
Groups of at least 40 steers or heifers sired by registered Angus bulls
have to be fed in CAB licensed feedlots, according to NACC coordinator
Rod Schoenbine. Winners of the 2004 contest were announced Jan. 15 at
the National Western Stock Show in Denver, where Stan Fansher accepted
$5,000 and a new John Deere 4x4 GatorŪ.
“I am impressed with quality overall,” Schoenbine says. “Twenty
high-value entries graded more than 85 percent USDA Choice, less than 3
percent Yield Grade (YG) 4 and more than 25 percent Certified Angus
Beef—not counting CABŪ Prime.” Of 140 pens and 5,998 cattle entered,
4,909 were harvested as eligible and several pens carried over to the
ongoing 2005 NACC, he said.
The top value pen graded 40 percent Prime and another 53 percent met all
criteria for the brand, which include Modest or higher marbling. “They
had nearly twice as many Primes as the next closest group,” Schoenbine
says, “and the second heaviest heifer carcasses.”
Stan Fansher said, virtually all were sired by four Fansher herd sires:
sons of Traveler 6807, Precision 1680, Lucys Boy and Emulation 5522. The
family’s 400-cow registered herd was built upon genetics from Gardiner,
Sitz and Jorgensen Angus ranches, Stan Fansher added.
In deciding to finish the heifers, son Brad looked more at winning Prime
premiums rather than the NACC. Hands turned to ultrasound to help avoid
over-finishing the already 1,000-lb. animals.
“They had maturity on their side, along with genetics and technology,”
Hands says. The veteran of several carcass contests says he learned
early on that the feeder cannot take full credit for quality grades. “We
can either enhance or take away from genetic potential.”
The heifers’ $107.74/cwt. value on the NACC grid was more than a dollar
above last year’s champion on the same grid, $2.09/cwt. above the 2004
top steers and $3.25/cwt. above the heifer division champion pen. Four
of them went over the YG 4 line, without which the whole pen would have
tallied another dollar higher.
The Champion steers, from Woodstone Angus Ranch, New Ulm, TX, were fed
at Cattleman’s Choice Feedyard, Gage, OK, by managers Dale and Mary
Moore. They came from a herd of 500 registered cows and bulls of an old
Irish line. Families noted on the Web (irishherd.com), such as Lady
Elizabeth of the Manor, read more like Celtic romance than animal
science, but they all trace back to the first registered Angus cattle.
Bill and Yvonne Woods keep half the cows in Texas; the other half run on
family land near Hackett, AR, looked after by John and Angela Wiggins,
who backgrounded the 43 NACC steers. The Woods family accepted the
$3,000 NACC award in Denver.
The only entry to avoid all discounts on the contest grid, the steers
won premiums from their 7 percent Prime, 51 percent CAB showing. Only 30
percent of the 785-lb. carcasses were YG 1-2, but Woods says he is “not
trying to raise Limousin or Charolais. If we get too many YG 2s, we lose
marbling, so we aim for YG 3 and easy fleshing mommas.” Steers sired by
14 different linebred bulls demonstrate the uniformity in that herd, he
adds. Woodstone generates its own bulls and another 25 for local
customers, Woods says: “We don’t just feed the bottom end.”
Moore has fed and admired Woodstone cattle for four years. “These came
in at 870 lb., converted in the 5s and gained in the 3s for 150 days,
not implanted,” he reports. “If all our customers keep the records Bill
keeps and use carcass data the way he does, we’ll have nothing but
outstanding cattle,” Moore says. “That’s where we’re heading.” He and
Woods already have plans for the 2005 NACC. “We’re going to win both the
steer and heifer divisions next time,” he says.
Darnall Ranch came closest to doing just that this time, with its
commercial herd and CAB licensed feedlot near Harrisburg, NE. Forty
Darnall heifers won Champion Heifer Division with 20 percent Prime and
45 percent CAB, while 40 Darnall steers came in third in the Steer
Division. All were harvested at the Swift plant in Greeley, CO.
“They were all home-raised,” says owner-manager Gary Darnall, “and they
trace back to the Performance Breeders on both the cow and bull side.”
Dave and Yvonne Hinman, Malta, MT, are partners with Bill and Jennifer
Davis of Rollin’ Rock, Sidney, MT, in Performance Breeders.
Ultrasound sorting 80 days preharvest is routine at Darnall’s
20,000-head feedlot, so the scans were taken into account. But Darnall
entered a wide cross-section-16 groups in all-for educational purposes.
And nothing special was done to enhance grade. “We aggressively implant
everything,” he says, ending with a TBA compound.
All were calf-fed and harvested at about 14 months. “They did well, but
we were surprised they came out that high in the contest,” Darnall says.
He accepted the $3,000 heifer and $1,500 third-place steer awards in
Reserve Champion Steers ($2,000) and third-place NACC heifers came from
Jimmy Thomas, Homedale, ID, who had the top heifers in 2003, all fed at
Boise Valley Feeders, Parma, ID.
The Reserve Heifers were a “middle cut” from longtime CAB test herd
cooperator Chuck Pluhar’s 600-cow commercial Angus ranch near Cohagen,
MT, fed by CAB partner Beller Feedlots, Lindsay, NE.
The 2005 NACC features easier entry rules and a new sponsor, Alltech, a
multinational biotechnology company providing natural solutions to the
feed and food industries. For more information, visit cabfeedlots.com,
contact Schoenbine at 330/345-2333 or e-mail