Steer-A-Year program seeks donations for 2023-24 academic year

by Amelia Siroky

BOZEMAN — Montana State University’s Steer-A-Year program is seeking donations of young cattle and feed for the 2023-24 academic year.

A program in the MSU College of Agriculture, Steer-A-Year combines academic courses with hands-on, technical experience and exposes students to the many variables involved in raising cattle. Students spend the academic year feeding and managing steers, caring for them through the winter and spring, collecting data on feed efficiency and weight gain, and studying livestock marketing.

“Steer-A-Year is a very unique program and offers opportunities for students to gain extensive practical knowledge in a guided setting, which makes the process more approachable,” said Hannah DelCurto-Wyffels, the program’s adviser and an instructor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences. “It is inspiring to watch the students work with the calves over the course of a year, to see their comfort zones expand and know they’re being well-prepared for future work within the beef industry.” 

The program accepts financial support or donations of steers, feed or other supplies. Donated steers are housed at the Bozeman Agriculture Research and Teaching Farm. After being cared for by the students through the academic year, the cattle are sold annually to MSU’s Culinary Services, where the meat is served in both campus dining halls, Miller and Rendezvous.

Proceeds from the sales support travel and other costs for various student teams and clubs in the College of Agriculture, as well as funding trips for students to meet with commodity groups and industry professionals, allowing for additional networking and learning opportunities.

Steer-A-Year students fed 37 steers during the 2022-23 academic year, all of which were purchased by Culinary Services.

“Every aspect of the Steer-A-Year program is a win for our animal science students and mutually beneficial for our agricultural community partners, from providing our students hands-on experiential training in feeding and managing steers, to providing Montana beef for MSU students across campus, to providing opportunities for our students to meet and engage with agricultural stakeholders.” said Carl Yeoman, head of MSU’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences. “What’s more, producers who donate steers get potentially valuable information that they can use to benefit their operations, including regular updates on their donated animal’s growth and health and detailed information about meat quality after the steers are harvested.”

Awards are given annually to the producer who donated the best initial feeder steer, the steer with the top rate of gain, the steer with the best feed efficiency and the steer that produces the best carcass.

“We love this program because of the relationships it creates,” said DelCurto-Wyffels. “Not only do students gain valuable literacy in the science and mechanics of animal husbandry, they are also engaging with our ranchers and industry partners across the state and facilitating what we hope is a two-way learning process. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the generosity and support of so many Montana producers.”

DelCurto-Wyffels said that before donation, calves should be weaned, castrated and dehorned and should weigh approximately 500-800 pounds. The ideal pickup period for calves is the first two weeks of November. Those interested in donating steers or feed, providing financial support, or learning more about the Steer-A-Year program can contact DelCurto-Wyffels at 406-994-3752 or hannah.delcurto@montana.edu.

Hannah DelCurto-Wyffels, hannah.delcurto@montana.edu  or 406-994-3752

MSU would also like to thank the donors from the 2022-2023 year-

Skattum Dairy and Ranch

B Slash Diamond Cattle/ Hedstrom Dairy

Jackson Cattle Co.

Dearborn Ranch LLC

Beyond Livestock—Joel and Kayla Parks

Smith 6-S Livestock

MC Land and Cattle

Mike McCauley

Butch and Doreen Gillespie

Gildford Colony

Cowan & Sons

Northern Ag Research Center

Harrer’s Lost Lake Ranch

Juedeman Ranch

Descheemaeker Family

EL Peterson Ranch

Hahn Ranch

Cooper Hereford Ranch

Hay Camp Ranch

ARS—Fort Keogh

Trail Creek Land and Livestock

Bradley Livestock

Bair Ranch Foundation

Veseth Cattle Co.

King Family

Hobble Diamond Ranch

Plymale Family

Trapper Creek Ranch

Flynn Ranch

Dawn and Erik Swensson

Forder Land & Cattle Co.

Triangle Land and Livestock

ADM Red Angus

MSU BART Farm

 Dick Lucier

Bar LH, LLC – Chris and Tiffanie Labbe

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