Catch-A-Calf Program

January 11-26, 2025

Catch-A-Calf, one of National Western's most loved traditions!

Participants come from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Wyoming to compete in the 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 that successful participants catch a calf, feed it, and return with the animal one year later as a market-ready steer at the National Western Stock Show. The steers are judged on production and carcass quality, while the participants are judged on showmanship, record books, and a personal interview.
The Grand and Reserve Grand Champion participants sell their steers at the Auction of Junior Livestock Champions held on the final Friday of the Stock Show.


Applications for the 2025-2026 season will open in August 2024.
Please note, this program is only open to active 4-H and FFA members ages 14-18 (who must be residents) in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska & Wyoming. Please refer to the Rules and Regulations for further information.

Contact Us

NWSS Staff:
Jennifer Boka

Michele Erickson

Mikayla Gabel

    Important Information

    Where do I even begin to start about Catch-A-Calf? It is such an amazing program and experience to be part of. Coming into it I just thought it was just some program I would participate in and then it would be over with following the show. I was so wrong, because this program has given me more than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I learn even more about the beef industry and cattle management practices, but I made life-long friends that I would have never met if I hadn’t done CAC. The memories I have from this program will benefit me and will last a lifetime.
    Rianna Chaney, 2020 Participant
    2024-2025 Schedule

    May 3-4, 2024: Steers distributed to all 2024-2025 participants – NWSS Denver, CO

    November 2024: Catch-A-Calf fitting and showmanship clinic with Weaver Livestock

    January  2025 | 12 p.m. – Catch-A-Calf steers can begin arriving on grounds

    January 9-12, 2025 
    Catch-A-Calf Activities & Show

    Catch-A-Calf Contests
    Presented by:
    Contests are held in the Denver Coliseum during 2025 rodeo performances.