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 http://www.mtbeefnetwork.org/SOM/bckground.html or call Rachel Endecott, Montana State Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, (406) 874-8286.