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Kansas feedlots vie for Beef Empire Days honors

The annual Beef Empire Days Live Show highlights the Kansas cattle feeding industry.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

June 12, 2024

9 Slides

In the 1950s, the commercial cattle feeding industry got its start in Garden City, Kan. And starting in 1968, and for 56 years since, cattle feeders have come together to compete for bragging rights in the Beef Empire Days Live Show and Carcass Contest.

Today, Beef Empire Days is 10 days featuring more than a dozen events that celebrate not just the cattle feeding industry, but also the arts and humanities, athletics and community spirit of the High Plains region. But the key event is still the Live Show, sponsored by Merck Animal Health.

The 2024 Merck Animal Health Live Show was June 4 at the Finney County Fairgrounds. This year’s judge was Kelly Bruns, director of research and Extension operations at the University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center, North Platte, Neb. Prior to that he was a professor of animal science at South Dakota State University for 18 years. He spent 10 years as the coach of the SDSU livestock judging and meat animal evaluation team, coaching three National Champion Meat Animal Evaluation Teams.

Bruns evaluated 101 steers and 65 heifers from more than 20 feedyards in the region.

Following the live show, all cattle entries were transported to Tyson Foods at Holcomb, Kan., for harvesting and the Beef Empire Days Carcass Show, June 7. The carcass show was judged by Blake Foraker, assistant professor in meat science at Washington State University. Foraker’s work in meat science has focused on the growth, carcass yield and performance, and eating satisfaction of beef products of beef x dairy crossbreds. He is the coach of the WSU meat judging and meat animal evaluation teams.

Final results were announced at the Beef Empire Days Awards Banquet, June 7, at the Clarion Inn, Garden City, Kan.

The Heifer Live Show was dominated by Sunbelt Feedyard, with three of the top five entries. The top five live heifers included:

  1. Tag 223, fed by Sunbelt Feedyard, owned by David Dodd Cattle Co.

  2. Tag 224, fed by Sunbelt Feedyard, owned by Mid America Cattle.

  3. Tag 263, fed by Danner Ranch, owned by Jerome Danner.

  4. Tag 222, fed by Sunbelt Feedyard, owned by David Dodd Cattle Co.

  5. Tag 203, fed by Turon Feedyard, owned by Gene Enowski.

The Steer Live Show was led by Lane County Feeders, earning first and second place. The top five live steers included:

  1. Tag 210, fed by Lane County Feeders, owned by Foote Cattle Co.

  2. Tag 206, fed by Lane County Feeders, owned by Foote Cattle Co.

  3. Tag 197, fed by Triangle H, owned by Gardiner Angus Ranch.

  4. Tag 119, fed by Reeve Cattle Co., owned by Reeve Cattle Co.

  5. Tag 104, fed by Turon Feedyard, owned by Dale and Carol Voran.

The results of the 2024 Beef Empire Days Carcass Show will be announced in a future Kansas Farmer newsletter.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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