L to R, Lane Brush (Madison County), Randy Kramer (Carbon County), Kayla Sylvia (Lewis and Clark County), Shelbie Oblander (Yellowstone County), Ty Handy (Richland County), and Rachel Endecott (MSU Extension)
Montana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) distinguished 135 “Steers of Merit” out of over 900 entries for 2013. Out of 775 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 111 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 24 out of 141 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. 12-14 in Billings at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana. The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were: 1) Timothy Eash, Lincoln County (Ed Braaten, breeder); 2) Randy Kramer, Carbon County (Justin Oswald, breeder); 3) Karleigh Bolin, Missoula County (Jeremy & Kate Roberts, breeder); 4) Kayla Sylvia, Lewis and Clark County (Troy Wheeler, breeder); and 5) Lane Brush, Madison County (Gerald Brush, breeder).
The top five steer entries in the Ultrasound Division were: 1) Mackenzie Lepley, Yellowstone County (breeder unknown); 2) Ty Handy, Richland County (Larry & Lauri Handy, breeder); 3) Brielle Gorder, Richland County (Allen Gasho, breeder); 4) Shelbie Oblander, Yellowstone County (Pam & Dale Bilyeu, breeder); and 5) Jalyssa Gorder, Richland County (Gartner-Denowh Angus Ranch, breeder).
The number of Steer of Merit certifications for 2013 increased by nine steers, with 26 more entries submitted compared to 2012.
“Steer of Merit certification didn’t change much in 2013 compared to 2012,” said Rachel Endecott, Montana State Extension Beef Cattle Specialist. “This was the second fair season under the new hot carcass weight and back fat standards set by the Steer of Merit Committee in 2011; perhaps some adjustment to the new standards is occurring. And summer 2013 probably had better cattle feeding weather and conditions than summer 2012.”
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 Committee in the areas of hot carcass weight, dressing percent, fat thickness over 12th rib (back fat), 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 about the Steer of Merit program, call Rachel Endecott, Montana State Extension Beef Cattle Specialist at (406) 994-3747.