MSU Extension and MSGA announce 2010 Steer of Merit certifications

Helena - Montana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) distinguished 190 “Steers of Merit” out of over 900 entries for 2010. Out of 831 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 156 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 34 out of 88 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. 16-18 in Billings at MetraPark. The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were: 1) Sharae Gloege, Lewis & Clark County (Earl Stucky, breeder); 2) Laura Frazee, Ravalli County (Triple T Livestock, breeder); 3) Michaela Blevins, Lake County (Craig Blevins, breeder); 4) Katie Merchen, Lewis & Clark County (Karl Christians, breeder); and 5) Tavin Schneider, Blaine County (John Schneider, breeder).

The top five steer entries in the Ultrasound Division were: 1) Karston Donoven, Hill County (Marlene Melby, breeder); 2) Kelsey Kraft, Yellowstone County (Matt Sauer, breeder); 3) Rachael Buzanowki, Yellowstone County (Butch & Doreen Gillespie, breeders); 4) Tyler Davey, Hill County (J.Bob & Ruby Hould, breeders); and 5) Jordyn Wagner, Yellowstone County (Merrill Morris, breeder).

The number of Steer of Merit certifications for 2010 was exactly the same as the number of certifications in 2009.

“Steer of Merit certification was similar in the past two years, probably due to excellent feeding conditions during the cool summers,” 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. 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.