Youth Steer Project teaches real-world aspects of beef production
Lawrence county youth who aspire to learn more about the "real world" of raising a steer from weaning to slaughter are invited to sign up in the next month at the University of Missouri Extension Center, Mt. Vernon.
The project runs until late summer following the slaughter of the steers. During this time the 4-H or FFA members in the program will feed and care for a steer about 180 days. If they wish, they may exhibit the steer at youth fairs in the area.
"The steers will be officially weighed in early February. At that time a starting value will be placed on them and they will be evaluated for feeder cattle frame, muscle score and body condition," said Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
At the conclusion of the project, the steers will be weighed to determine their average daily gain from start to finish. The steers will all be slaughtered and processed at Cloud's Plant, Carthage. Quality and yield grades will be given to each carcass to determine the true value.
Each participant and their family are responsible for marketing the beef from the steer. The youth may show the steers at the Lawrence County Youth Fair in Freistatt on June 1, which would them eligible for the youth premium auction.
The steer project began in 2012 with six participants. They met several times during the year to learn about beef production, breeding, feeding and Beef Quality Assurance.
"Past participants have agreed during the wrap-up evaluation that a lot was learned about beef production from this program. They also learned that it's not always a profitable venture," said Cole. "Most of the steers last year were home-raised rather than purchased. This increased the usefulness of the project as they knew the age and genetic make-up of their project animal."
At this time, eight youth have expressed interest in the 2013 project. Anyone wishing to join should contact the Lawrence County Extension Center at 417-466-3012.