Montana Stockgrowers, Extension announce Steer of Merit certifications
Montana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association distinguished 126 "Steers of Merit" out of nearly 900 entries for 2012. Out of 780 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 110 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 16 out of 110 entries received the distinction.
"The Steer of Merit award promotes and recognizes the production of the highest quality of Montana beef with carcass characteristics that meet the U.S. beef industry's standards of excellence," said Errol Rice, MSGA's executive vice president. "We are proud to sponsor this great youth program that teaches and awards 4-H and FFA beef projects that have met or exceeded these industry benchmarks in order to meet both domestic and global consumer demand for the 21st century."
The exhibitors and breeders of the top five steers in each category were honored at MSGA's Annual Convention, Dec. 15 to 17 in Billings at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana. The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were: Kaleigh Charles, Missoula County (Probst Livestock, breeder); Keaton Konesky, Cascasde County (Joseph Konesky, breeder); Brady Croy, Madison County (Croy Ranch, breeder); Lucas Riley, Powder River County (Riley Ranch, breeder); and Blake Toyne, Beaverhead County (Justin West, breeder).
The top five steer entries in the Ultrasound Division were: Cortney Bromenshenk, Yellowstone County (Johnson Club Calves, breeder); Lane Judy, Yellowstone County (Tom & Molly Judy, breeder); Hannah Kraft, Yellowstone County (Leonard Vanek, breeder); Avery Bates, Gallatin County (Brad & Juli Nelson, Nelson Cattle Co., breeder); and Anna Kraft (Brad Kraft - K4 Cattle, breeder).
The number of Steer of Merit certifications for 2012 decreased by 80 steers, with four more entries submitted compared to 2011.
"Steer of Merit certification was lower in 2012 than in the past several years, for a couple different reasons," said Rachel Endecott, Montana State Extension beef cattle specialist. "The Steer of Merit Committee changed the hot carcass weight and back fat standards for the 2012 fair season, which made it more challenging for a carcass to receive a Steer of Merit certification. And the hot, dry summer conditions provided a challenge to feeding cattle."
The Montana Steer of Merit program was initiated in 1967 as a joint effort between the Montana Stockgrowers Association and Montana State University Extension. The program was designed to measure, record, and improve carcass characteristics in beef cattle. Data from these carcasses has been summarized and analyzed statistically. Over time, significant increases have been made in quality grade and in yield grade, or cutability, indicating that cattle can be selected for leaner carcasses with higher cutability and still maintain high quality grade as reflected by marbling.
To be designated a Steer of Merit, carcasses are evaluated by a qualified individual using information that relates to yield of lean meat and eating quality. Beef carcasses must meet criteria set by the Steer of Merit Governing Committee in the areas of hot carcass weight, dressing percent, fat thickness over 12th rib (backfat), total rib eye area, yield grade, percent cutability, and quality grade. Computer software programs help compile data and rank carcasses for state and county awards. Data is also analyzed periodically to track genetic and feed management progress. The minimum standards for Steer of Merit are reviewed each year and the program is updated to meet the changing industry standards.
For more information call Rachel Endecott, Montana State Extension Beef Cattle Specialist at 406-994-3747.