Dr. Rachel Endecott, Managing Editor.
As summer winds down and thoughts turn to fall tasks, I’d like to take the opportunity to share with you about the AJSA Steer Profitability Competition (SPC). As I write this, we are just finishing up another successful year of learning, leading, and cattle feeding.
The premise of the contest is simple — junior members send feeder calves to the University of Missouri feedlot, calves are fed to harvest then sold on the grid, and profitability determines the winners. Where this program differs from a typical ranch-to-rail experience is the educational component. SPC participants attend monthly webinars from speakers throughout the industry on a variety of topics centered on the cattle feeding enterprise. This past year, webinars ranged from animal breeding and genetic selection to ruminant nutrition and feedlot diets to carcass grading basics.
Each month, participants submit a feedback assignment based on the webinar material. For example, the assignment from the animal breeding and genetic selection webinar were to create your own selection index based on your specific herd and environment. Reading this set of assignments was one of many high points of the SPC year for me — these young people have a great grasp on their production environment and traits that are important to them. I read about fescue tolerance from Missourians, brisket disease resistance from Coloradans, and how calving ease is important when you’re in school all day and can’t skip class to check heifers.
For two of the webinars, participants were able to choose among writing a summary, creating 5 multiple choice quiz questions, or designing an infographic based on the material. I was blown away by the creative and savvy submissions from the group. Martha Moenning, Hayfield, MN, submitted this fantastic infographic about quality and yield grading after the carcass grading basics webinar. What a clever way to deliver the message in an easy-to-consume format!