The Noble Research Institute Junior Beef Excellence Program recognizes 4-H and FFA members for their ability to raise steers that yield high quality beef. Participants exhibit their steers at local livestock shows in 12 south-central Oklahoma counties: Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Coal, Garvin, Jefferson, Johnston, Love, Marshall, McClain, Murray and Stephens.
This year, 69 steers were nominated in the fall to participate in the program. After their respective county shows, 35 students delivered 44 steers to the Noble Research Institute's Pasture Demonstration Farm in Ardmore. Each animal was given a unique visual identification tag number and electronic identification tag that would allow the animal to be traced through the packing facility. It also let us pair the data collected to the participant. The cattle were commingled for two days with free-choice access to feed, hay and water before being transported to Tyson Foods in Amarillo, Texas, for harvest. Carcass measurements and data were collected by USDA livestock graders and students from West Texas A&M Beef Carcass Research Center. The information collected was used to assign premium values based on the current market value for yield grade and quality grade, which was then accumulated to rank the steers by carcass merit. Those steers placing in the top 10 were awarded prize money for their respective placings at the Junior Beef awards program in April.
2017 Junior Beef winners at the awards ceremony at Southern Tech in Ardmore on April 22, 2017.
There is also a voluntary record-keeping and interview component of the competition open to all participants. Those participating in this portion must submit their management records either electronically or on paper for review and discussion with the program coordinator. The quality of their records, attention to detail and presentation of the information is evaluated, then the contestants are ranked by their conduct and responses in the interview portion. This is a great opportunity for students to evaluate their management decisions, provide insight to the thought process behind those decisions, and reveal things they learned and what they might change or continue in the future when feeding and caring for an animal that will be marketed as a carcass instead of a live animal.
I would like to thank the students, parents and educators who participated this year, as well as my fellow Noble Research Institute employees who helped me during the course of the program. Assuming the role of program coordinator has been a great challenge. I look forward to the future as we strive to improve the program and maximize the educational impact it has on everyone involved. Please contact me at 580-224-6475 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or comments for the future.
On April 22, Noble Research Institute recognized the 35 students for their participation in the Noble Research Institute Junior Beef Excellence Program. Below are a few of the top carcass winners and what they have learned from raising and showing cattle, participating in the Junior Beef program and what they plan to do with their winnings.
Nominations for next year's program will take place in November 2017. Eligibility and additional information can be found at noble.org/junior-beef