Plans are set for the 38th Annual Sandhills Cattle Association Educational, Performance and Carcass Contest.  The cattle will be fed at Lincoln County Feedyard near Stapleton, Nebraska. Calves will be delivered to the feedyard on Wednesday, November 11, 2019 at approximately 1:00 pm central time.  Those planning to transport their own calves, please plan to deliver them around this time.

On our website, those interested in participating can find the official contest rules, some frequently asked questions, a draft itinerary of pickup times and locations as well as a registration form.  Please fill out the registration form and return it to the office by Tuesday, October 31st. This will help our office to make final transportation plans and ensure proper entry of all calves into our database.

The rules remain much the same as in years past. Contestants retain ownership of the calves, expenses are deducted at the end of the contest and the Association will retain a small percentage of the gross payment. Along with the financial details, a full contest summary will be provided to all contestants.

We will send out official ear tags as soon as we receive the registration form.  Calves must be tagged with the official tag in BOTH ears before loading on the truck or entering the feedyard. The calves must also be brand inspected and this paperwork must accompany them to the feedyard. No calf will load on the truck or unload at the feedyard without an official SCA ear tag and proper brand inspection paperwork. A brand inspector will be available at the Valentine pickup location at 10 am central-time on November 11, 2019, however, there will not be a brand inspector available at Lincoln County Feedyard, so please plan accordingly.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Sandhills Cattle Office manager, Elysabeth Kierl, at (402) 376-2310.  You can also contact one of the committee members: Craig O’Kief, Matt Blackford, Rick Marlatt, Frank Johns, John Olsen, Joe Butler and Derek Schwanebeck. 

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the value I gain from this contest? 
The value you gain includes actual data of your calf’s performance in a feedyard setting. You also get to see the whole industry in a small, controlled environment (meaning you get to see the calves in the feedyard, you get to see actual data of your calf’s carcass traits and characteristics).  This contest is great for beginners and “old-hats” alike.  Who doesn’t have room to learn? 

How do I know if I am eligible to compete? 
If you are a current member with the Sandhills Cattle Association, you are eligible to compete.

What if I am not a member, but would like to send my calves in? 
Simply call the office to get signed up as a member.  We have different levels of memberships available for those wanting to join! Contact the office at (402) 376-2310 for more info! 

How many calves typically enter the contest? 
On average, we receive 45 heifers and 90 steers per year.  We’d love to see this number grow—so tell your friends!

When is the deadline? 
Registrations are due to the office by Thursday, October 31, 2019. 


How do I register for the contest? 
Simple. Visit and download the form to fill out and send back to the office.  That’s it.  

Where do I get official SCA tags? 
After you provide your registration forms to the office, we will send you the correct amount of tags.  Make sure that each calf gets one tag in each ear! 


What kind of calves should I bring? 
We take all breeds and kinds of calves.  Some submit their top-end to see how they perform in a feedlot setting while others bring us their off-colored, misfits – may be those that would be sorted off in the sale barn.  

Most important consideration is size and age.  The calves entering the contest should be 2019 spring born calves weighing between 500-700 pounds.  

Should my calves be weaned? 
Because our Association promotes best management practices, it is highly recommended that you wean and pre-condition your calves before they enter the feedyard to reduce stress to the calves. 

What is required of my calves? 
Your calves will need to be brand inspected and tagged with official SCA tags before they get off the trailer at the feedyard.  The brand inspection papers must accompany the calf to the feedyard and the calves MUST be tagged with SCA tags in BOTH ears before they get off the trailer!  We also ask that they are weaned and pre-conditioned with no implants.

Where can I get a brand inspection? 
Brand inspections can be obtained through the State of Nebraska Brand Committee.  Please visit to find an inspector near you.  We will also have one available at Valentine on November 11th at 10 am at the pickup location if you’d like to have your animals inspected there. There will be no brand inspector at the feedyard, so please plan accordingly. 

How can I get my calves to the feedyard? 
We will help provide transportation for calves to the feedyard, but you must inform us before October 31st they need a ride. You can also deliver your calves yourself to the feedyard.  Please try to my make sure that your calves arrive around 1 pm so that they can be penned out as a group. 

When do the calves go to the feedyard? 
Calves will arrive at the Lincoln County Feedyard on November 11th, 2019 around 1 pm central time. We would like all calves to arrive at roughly the same time so that they can be penned out together.  If you cannot make that deadline, please call the office at (402) 376-2310 to make arrangements. 

How long will the calves be at the feedyard? 
Once in the feedyard, calves are under complete control of the feedyard manager.  He decides what they eat and when they ship.  Calves will be on feed an average of 180 to 200 days, though some may be retained longer or ship sooner. 

Why is there a two-week warm up period? 
To ensure that calves are all treated fairly and no one mistreats their animals before they enter the contest, the Board of Directors has implemented a two-week warm up period.  Calves will be left in their pen to adjust to their surroundings and will not be handled unless necessary for health reasons.  Again, we want to promote best management practices and this helps to not stress the livestock and their immune systems. 

What if my calf dies while in the contest? 
Unfortunately, death is a part of life.  While the staff and Board of Directors with the SCA, the feedyard, transportation and packers will all do our best to ensure the health of your animal, sometimes animals die.  This contest is meant to mimic real-life and real-risk.  That means, if a calf dies, you won’t get paid for that animal and might still owe some on it. That being said, we all will do our best to ensure the health and wellness of your animal during its time in the contest. 

Financial Questions

How much is the contest to enter? 
This contest is FREE to members of the Sandhills Cattle Association!  That’s right – no entry fees! 

When do I get paid? 
Downpayments will be sent to contestants after their calf has shipped from the feedyard.  Each calf will receive a $150 downpayment once it ships.  Not all calves ship at the same time, meaning your neighbor might receive his payment before you—don’t worry, it’s coming, once your last calf ships. The balance will be paid at the conclusion of the contest which is the annual banquet in September 2020. 

What are my expenses? 
Each calf will incur expenses during the contest.  Expenses may include and are not limited to: feed, veterinary care, and yardage.  The Association also takes a small percentage of the gross value after harvest, to keep the contest alive. 

How do you figure the value of my calf? 
The calves will be awarded a “start value” after a brief two-week warm up period.  The calves will be weighed and the price calculated according to that days markets.  The packer will place a price on each calf at shipment and then expenses will be deducted along with a portion of the gross value at harvest of the calf retained by the Association. 
What does the Association do with the money they keep? 
The Association places these funds into a Money Market fund where it waits patiently to be used for contest promotion and program expenses. 


When do we know if we received an award? 
Awards will be announced at the EP&C Banquet in September of 2020.  Date needs to be set yet, but we will make sure you know! 

What are the Contest Awards? 
Calves are placed into our database and then ranked based on certain criteria and formulas (each different according to the specific division.  Division categories include Average Daily Gain (ADG), Carcass, Profitability and Overall. 

Special awards will be presented to the Best Three Head in ADG, Carcass, Profitability, and Grand & Reserve Grand Champion will be awarded to the best performing heifer and steer. 


Upcoming Events

19th Annual Heart City Bull Bash

February 8, 2020 -

19th Annual Heart City Bull Bash - February 8, 2020 in Valentine, NE.  Entry forms, sponsorship forms & more can be found at or call 402.376.3000. 

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Sandhills Cattle Association

130 South Hall Street  •  PO Box 786  •  Valentine, Nebraska 69201
(402) 376-2310  •