The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association is adding new award categories to its ICA Carcass Challenge. The program provides for some good-natured head-to-head competition as cattle producers from around the state offer up steers they think will produce high quality beef. A Nevada graduate, Kevin Cordray, is signed up to help recruit steers.

In its third year, the contest will maintain the awards that demonstrate the highest quality beef at a moderate cost of production, which is called the Retail Value per Days on Feed (RVDoF). However, there will also be Carcass Merit awards. These will rank the steers on grid price per pound, with discount allowances for small ribeye areas, low average daily gain and excessive trimming.

In addition, individual awards will be given to the steers with the highest ADG, largest REA, the top marbling score and the chef award, which is for a 12-14" ribeye with the highest marbling score.

Commitment forms for the contest must be received by Oct. 1. Steers must be 2013 spring-born calves that weigh between 650 and 750 pounds on delivery, which will be Nov. 4 and 5. Steers must have received all their mandatory vaccinations, and be weaned for at least 21 days.

"Whether you are a cow-calf producer, backgrounde, or run a feed yard, the bottom line in beef cattle production is the value of the meat on the carcass. Each step in the value-chain affects the end product," said Kellie Carolan, ICA’s seedstock manager. "Expanding the prize categories reminds us that different customers value beef in many different ways."

Carolan oversees the ICA Carcass Challenge, and encourages ICA members to actively work with the Young Cattlemen’s Leadership Progrm class. "This contest gives these young leaders an opportunity to work with area ICA members on an educational project. It will also widen their network in the cattle community," she said.

Steers can be donated by individuals, county cattlemen’s associations, breed associations and any business that would like to be involved. Details and the general guidelines about the contest are on the ICA website, www.iacattlemen.org, or call the ICA office at 515-296-2266.