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Carda Among Steers Of Merit Winners

A program offered by Montana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association that provides an opportunity for students throughout the state to raise cattle and learn about various elements of beef quality recently announced its annual winners.

The 2022 Steer of Merit program winners were recognized Dec. 8 at the Montana Stockgrowers Association annual convention and trade show in Billings.

MSU Extension and MSGA distinguished 154 “Steers of Merit” out of 1,288 entries. Of 555 steers entering the carcass division, 78 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the ultrasound division, 76 out of 734 entries received the distinction. The number of Steer of Merit certifications for 2022 declined slightly compared to 2021, according to Megan Van Emon, MSU Extension beef cattle specialist. More counties participated in the ultrasound contest this year due to the lack of packing plant facilities and space, Van Emon added.

The top five steer entries in the ultrasound division were: 1. Kayli Cook, Montana Fair (Vanek Club Calves, breeder) 2. Sy Carda, Richland County (Brent Carda, breeder) 3. Dani Hess, Montana Fair (Shay Family Livestock, breeder) 4. Dallas Berkram, Marias Fair (Diamond Box Livestock, breeder) 5. MaRae Smail, Marias Fair (Dunbar Brothers, breeder).

The top five steer entries in the carcass division were: 1. Shelby Taylor, Lake County (Shelby Taylor, breeder) 2. Ladahlia Hook, Flathead County (Toby Hook, breeder) 3. Colton Noyes, Broadwater County (KD Cattle Co, breeder) 4. Samuel Simonson, Phillips County (Shon Simonson, breeder) 5. Isaac Eaton, Prairie County (Frank Eaton & Sons, breeder).

The Montana Steer of Merit program started in 1967 as a joint effort between the Montana Stockgrowers Association and MSU Extension to measure, record and improve carcass traits in beef cattle. Over time, significant increases have been made in quality grade and yield grade, or cutability, indicating that cattle can be selected for leaner carcasses with higher cutability while maintaining high-quality grade as reflected by their marbling, Van Emon said.

To be a Steer of Merit, carcasses are evaluated for yield of lean meat and eating quality.

Beef carcasses must meet criteria set by the Steer of Merit Committee in the areas of hot carcass weight, dressing percent, fat thickness over the 12th rib (back fat), rib eye area, yield grade, percent cutability and quality grade.

Data is compiled and used to rank carcasses for state and county awards, and it is analyzed periodically to track genetic and feed management progress. The minimum standards for Steer of Merit are reviewed each year.

For more information about the Steer of Merit program, call Van Emon at 406-874-8286 or megan. [email protected]

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