BOZEMAN – Montana ranchers are encouraged to donate a steer for the benefit of the learning and development of next generation agricultural producers. Montana State University’s College of Agriculture is seeking donations of steers for its Steer-A-Year program. The program accepts donated steers, monetary support and feed.
The donated steers allow students in the program to engage in hands-on learning of the beef industry. Students participate in applied learning experiences and courses such as beef cattle management, professional development in beef production systems, livestock management, meat science and livestock evaluation.
Through Steer-A-Year, students care daily for steers that Montana ranchers have donated to the university. The steers live at MSU’s Bozeman Agricultural Research and Teaching, or BART, Farm, and students are responsible for everything from feeding the animals to health checks and vaccinations. Students also provide steer production data – such as average daily weight gain, carcass information when the meat is harvested and even genetic testing to the ranchers who donated them.
Hannah DelCurto Wyffels, instructor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences and Steer-A-Year program manager, said the program has grown from eight to 30 steers in the last few years. The increase in donated steers has increased the number of students who are able to participate in Steer-A-Year, she said.
“The steer contributions are the basis of what we do and what we have the potential to do,” Wyffels said. “Our partnership with Montana livestock producers is one that we’re very proud of, because our stakeholders understand that teaching the next generation of agriculture leaders begins with important first-hand experience for our students.”
Steer-A-Year students sell the steers directly to MSU’s Culinary Services. Last year, students sold 30 steers to the program, and the College of Agriculture and the Montana Made Program in Culinary Services hosted a Montana Steer-A-Year beef dinner for the public in the Miller Dining Commons. The Steer-A-Year cattle are processed at Pioneer Meats in Big Timber and are used for anything from large rotisserie roasts to stews in campus dining halls and university events. One of the finest cuts, New York strip steak, is grilled at the First Meal event, when up to 4,000 new students gather for an outdoor picnic at MSU’s Romney Oval.
Awards are presented to the best initial feeder steer, the steer with the top rate of gain and best carcass. Profits from sales of the steers fund student activities in the College of Agriculture. Last year, thanks to funds from Steer-A-Year proceeds, Wyffels said MSU’s Livestock Judging Team competed at the National Western Stock Show in Denver; the Houston Livestock Show in Houston; and the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Classic in Kearney, Nebraska.
Donated steers make a direct impact on students, particularly those participating in the livestock judging team, Wyffels said.
“The funds allow judging team members to compete nationally and learn the importance of professionally representing Montana and MSU,” she said. “The entire program represents agriculture from every corner: animal science education, business, economics and, finally, getting the product to the consumer.”
Approximately 20 students from various backgrounds and majors in agriculture studies are enrolled this year in the Steer-A-Year course, Wyffels said. She noted that the practical learning experiences with the steers are valuable for all of those students.
Steers will be accepted between Oct. 31 and Nov. 18. For more information about the Steer-A-Year program or how to donate a steer, contact Wyffels at 406-994-3752 or Hannah.email@example.com.