Catch-A-Calf Program

One of National Western’s Most Loved Traditions
     They come from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming to compete in National Western Stock Show’s longest running program of practical beef cattle management. In just over 80 years, the Catch-A-Calf Contest has awarded nearly 3,000 steers to 4-H members hailing from the western United States.
     The program began in 1935 when 10 boys caught 10 sponsored calves. The contest quickly caught on, and the program grew to include 52 calves by 1942. Soon after World War II, the program settled at 40 calves per year, which is where the number continues to stand today.
The program is designed so successful participants catch a calf, feed it, and return with the animal one year later as a market steer. The market animals are judged on rate of gain, quality of fitting, and carcass quality. The exhibitor is judged on showmanship, their record book, and a personal interview.
Catch-A-Calf contests in the Coliseum were held during the rodeo on Friday, January 12, 2018 (matinee performance), Saturday, January 13, 2018 (matinee performance) and Sunday, January 14, 2018 (matinee & evening performances).
Listen to a radio bit about Catch-A-Calf here.

Record Book:
View the Judges Score Sheet

Seminar Materials:
View the CAC Seminar PowerPoint from May 5, 2017 here
View the fill-in-the-blank worksheet from the CAC Seminar on May 5, 2017 here and the word search here
View the monthly CAC Check List here

Record Books & Letters:
Molly Keil
9 Twin Lakes Lane
Buffalo, WY 82834
Phone: 970-222-1728
Livestock & CAC Manual:
Amy Kelley
PO Box 395
Cheyenne Wells, CO 80810
Phone: 719-767-5716
National Western Stock Show:
Clancy Anderson & Erin Dorsey
4655 Humboldt Street
Denver, CO 80216
Phone: 303-299-5559

Louise Wiseman // Hershey, NE // 2016 Participant
National Western Catch-A-Calf was one of the best experiences in my life. It is a project for anyone, whether it is your first year showing cattle or your last. My calf, Jack, taught me more in less than one year than I had with one of my calves in a long time. Jack taught me a lot about personal responsibility and the personal drive inside of myself to push toward my goal of Grand Champion. Some of my favorite and worst experiences came through Catch-A-Calf and I wish I were able to go through the program again. It brought my family closer together. My brother won it in 2010, which fueled my fire to be just as good, or even better. The week spent in Denver was one to remember, but the Junior Livestock Sale was one to never forget. Catch-A-Calf has me ready to take on any show that stands in my way. I hope you get as much out of this program as I did.

Morgan Young // Loma, CO // 2011 Participant
I learned and grown so much throughout my journey as a NWSS Catch-A-Calf participant. Through my letters and talking on the phone with my sponsor, Dick Miller with the Aspen Elks Lodge, I knew I found a life long friend. When raising your calf, if you haven’t raised one before, you’ll learn a lot about cattle. I learned how to talk to others, I became a more informed as a producer, and am always eager to learn something new and innovative. However, Buddy taught me the most important lesson I could ever learn; About a week in, I sat in his pen and realized I was the problem; He didn’t trust me because I didn’t trust him. In that moment I picked up his halter and began anew with him. After that, we were best friends. At the NWSS, he showed better than I expected – and he ended up being the Reserve Grand Champion Catch-A-Calf. I got more out of this program than I could have ever imagined. I decided to give back to the Catch-A-Calf program and volunteered the next year. I have now graduated from Lamar Community College with a Associates in General Agriculture with the help of a National Western Stock Show scholarship. I am now pursuing a degree in Animal Science at West Texas A&M University and I am on track to pursue a masters degree in Animal Science with an emphasis in Cattle Nutrition. Take this experience and do all you can with it.

Emma Furgusen // Imperial, NE // 2014 Participant
This program helped me come back into my community and help others learn about showing cattle and taking records. As I proceeded with the program I had my calf as tame as a dog. I asked a person in the community that has always done very good showing cattle if she would help me learn showmanships and how to clip and fight. One of the biggest things that helped me to be successful and to have fun learning, was asking people in my community to help me. I asked people from my English/Speech teacher, my FFA advisors, local producers and neighbors. I had these people read my letters, and speech. They helped me learn some of the rations and how to feed my steer. They helped with with any questions that I had on anything from record books, speech, and halter breaking my steer. Asking people to help me has taught me how to step up and be a leader. Something else that will help you in the end, is taking a lot of pictures and taking good records. This program is an amazing way to meet new people and see what you are capable of accomplishing.

Aubri Strachan // Elbert, CO // 2016 Participant
I entered the Catch-A-Calf program as a scared 14 year old that had never shown cattle before. When I opened the letter and read the name; “Ben Duke and the Denver Ag and Livestock Club” as my matched sponsor, this name meant so much to me. Knowing that Ben Duke, my 4-H club leader, Fairboard President, Leaders Council President and my biggest mentor through 4-H was getting to be apart of one of the biggest opportunities of my life. I took my steer “Angus” to my county fair and showed him in the Prospect steer class as well as novice showmanship. I placed second and reserve champion in both classes and knew that showing cattle would then become part of my life. At National Western I placed sixth in the production phase of the program and couldn’t have been happier. I had a lot of difficult things throughout the year of owning Angus and found out that animals are the best therapy. Through the program I learned how much one simple application can change your life and becoming a life changing experience teaching the basics of showing cattle, communications, record keeping as well interview skills. I started the program scared and not knowing as much about the things it takes to take care of a steer. I came out of the program more experienced as well as having a huge place in my heart for this program. I am wanting to find a career where I can help others and hopefully get the opportunity to sponsor future participants and help the program in any way I can. I am going to attend this show for as long as possible and can’t wait to meet participants from future groups. I don’t care if it is your first time showing cattle or you have been showing since you were eight. This program teaches so much more than anyone could possibly imagine. It will bring many laughs, tears and fights, but when you finish it you look back at those memories and see those moments as the ones you cherish the most.

The following are important dates to remember.

Friday, May 4, 2018
NWSS Catch-A-Calf Seminar

Saturday, May 5, 2018
NWSS Catch-A-Calf Breakfast & Pick Up – 7:30 a.m.

November 1, 2018
Entry Deadline – (Forms will be mailed out in Sept.)

December 1, 2018
2019-2020 CAC Application due. Download the application

Friday, January 11, 2019
8 a.m. – CAC steers can begin arriving at and must be in place by 12 p.m.
3 p.m. – Record Book Meeting – Beef Palace Auction Arena

Saturday, January 12, 2019
TBA – Interview Process – Beef Palace Auction Arena

Sunday, January 13, 2019
10 a.m. – CAC Show – Stadium Arena Following the show there will be a photo session and final awards will be presented.

2019 Catch-A-Calf Check-In and Show Schedule:

Begin Arrival  |  Thursday, January 10, 2019 from 12:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. – Barn
In Place  |  Friday, January 11, 2019 at 12:00 p.m.
Process  |  Friday, January 11, 2019 at 1 p.m. – Barn
Show  |  Sunday, January 12, 2019 at 10 a.m. – Stadium Arena
(Awards immediately follow show)

Summer 2016 – Catch the Pen

  • Welcome to the NW CAC program
  • Stock Show U and Adams County Fair
  • Colorado State Fair
  • Key to Successful Letter Writing
  • Key people to know
  • Teaching Your Steer to Lead
 Download Summer 2016 Newsletter 

Ben Duke III, Chairman
Jo Adams
John Anderson
Tom Fey
Scott Johnson
Amy Kelley
Carolyn Neeley
Donald Norgren
Tim Roberts
Bill Waneka

Contact Us

Record Books & Letters
Molly Keil
9 Twin Lakes Lane
Buffalo, WY 82834
Phone: (970) 222-1728

Livestock & CAC Manual:
Amy Kelley
PO Box 395
Cheyenne Wells, CO 80810
Phone: (719) 767-5716

National Western Stock Show Staff:
Clancy Anderson

Erin Dorsey

4655 Humboldt Street
Denver, CO 80216
Phone: 303-299-5559