MSU Extension and MSGA announce 2009 Steer of Merit certifications

Helena – Montana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) distinguished 190 “Steers of Merit” out of over 950 entries for 2009. Out of 852 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 159 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 31 out of 104 entries received the distinction.

The exhibitors and breeders of the top five steers in each category were honored at MSGA’s Annual Convention, Dec. 10-12 in Billings at MetraPark. The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were: 1. Dakota Gaustad, Scobey; 2. Zane Loring, East Glacier; 3. Alysha Mack, Troy; 4. Taylor Fouts, Turner; and 5. Marisa Habel, Valier. The top five entries in the Ultrasound Division were: 1. Levi Mydland, Joliet; 2. Garrett Bromenshenk, Billings; 3. Calvin Kading, Billings; 4. Kelsey Kraft, Billings; 5. Christopher Lanaghan, Laurel.

The 190 Steer of Merit certifications for 2009 were an increase over the 168 certifications in 2008.

“Steer of Merit certification was higher in 2009 than 2008, probably due to better feeding conditions during the cool summer,” said Rachel Endecott, Montana State Extension Beef Cattle Specialist.

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. Since that time, steer carcass characteristics have been evaluated on over 20,000 head. 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 about the Steer of Merit program visit or call Rachel Endecott, Montana State Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, (406) 874-8286.

Montana Livestock Forum, Nutrition Conference set for April 21, 22

From MSU News Service

BOZEMAN — Meaningless information that cattle buyers don’t value any more is one of the many topics that will be discussed during this year’s Montana Livestock Forum and Nutrition Conference in Bozeman.

The conference, titled “They’re Black and They’ve had their Shots … Any other Questions?,” will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, April 21 and 22, at the Gran Tree Inn.

Ranchers will hear a variety of presentations during the annual conference sponsored by the Montana Feed Association and Montana State University Extension. They’ll learn about five places they can save money and five places they can spend it, for example. They’ll hear the results of a National Animal Identification System study on cattle identification, receive an update on MSU’s new Animal Bioscience Building and hear predictions about cattle prices in the next five years. They’ll hear talks on value-added issues, beef industry and consumer demand, and more.

The first speaker in the Beef Cattle Lecture Series will be Ted Schroeder from Kansas State University. The series was established with an endowment created by MSU chemistry professor Paul Grieco and his wife, Barbara, with the MSU Foundation.

Cost to attend both days of the conference is $65. Attending one day only costs $45 for Tuesday and $30 for Wednesday. To register, call (406) 994-3414, send an e-mail to or write Anita Gray, 221 Linfield Hall, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. 59717.

The conference agenda is:
Tuesday, April 21
11:30 a.m. — Registration.
12:35 p.m. — Welcome and introductions. John Paterson, MSU Extension beef specialist.
12:40 p.m. — The MSU, Montana Feed Association and Montana Department of Agriculture Partnership. Don Siefert, Silent Herder.
12:55 p.m. — Update on MSU’s Animal Bioscience Building and what it means to Montanans. Turk Stovall, Origen.
1:25 p.m. — Five places to save and five places to spend money on the ranch this year. Paterson.
2:15 p.m. — To ID or not ID? Results of the National Animal Identification System study. Gary Brester, MSU.
3 p.m. — Value-added. More than just vaccines. Jane Boles, MSU.
3:15 p.m. — Beef product sampling. Boles and meats class.
3:45 p.m. — They’re black and they’ve had all their shots — and other meaningless information that cattle buyers don’t value any more. Darrell Wilkes, ABS Global.
5 p.m. — Social.
6 to 8 p.m. — Dinner and presentation of scholarships. Keynote address on “Beef Industry and Consumer Demand: Prescription for Prosperity” by Ted Schroeder of Kansas State, first recipient of the Animal and Range Sciences Beef Cattle Lectureship.

Wednesday, April 22
7 a.m. — Judging of student posters, breakfast buffet. Pat Hatfield, MSU.
8 a.m. — Protein supplementation of cattle: Show me the data. Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University.
8:50 a.m. — Fetal programming and heifer development, before and after birth. Rick Funston, University of Nebraska.
9:45 a.m. — Break
10:15 a.m. — Homegrown energy: Systems of forage production for Montana. Dennis Cash, MSU.
11 a.m. — Graduate student award presentation. Hatfield.
11:10 to 11:20 a.m. — Closing comments. Paterson and Seifert.