BROOKINGS, SD - South Dakota youth had fun being cattle buyers and meat packers for a day at the "You be the Buyer" program presented by SDSU Extension at the Mitchell Regional Center June 5, 2012.
"Kids learned that the 'VALUE' of a steer is influenced by how much muscle and fat it has and that meat quality and price are consumer driven - structure determines function," said Megan Nielson, SDSU Extension Youth Livestock Field Specialist. "The kids also talked about how different breeds of cattle are known for muscle or quality and how the structure (or genetics) of a steer determines how the carcass is going to look."
Nielson explained that during the event, teams of four bought a steer through video auction, hosted by Lanning Edwards from Mitchell Livestock Auction. They then competed against each other to see who would make the biggest profit at the end of the day based on their steer's carcass price.
"The students learned firsthand how to evaluate beef carcasses for yield and quality along with how to determine percent boneless trimmed retail cuts by becoming meat cutters," Nielson said.
The team worked together cutting a loin, donated by Mitchell Locker, into muscle, bone and fat to see how much edible product they actually had. Finally, they were able to taste test the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef as well evaluate tenderness between meat cuts from the round and loin using sensory testing techniques.
Youth also learned about animal flight zones and how to use safe animal handling techniques when moving cattle through a chute provided by local veterinarian Kevin Hubbard. There was also discussion on how stress can have a negative impact on the quality of meat and how the animal management practices they use influence the "value" of their steers.
"At the end of the day, each team was successful in marketing their steers and a few may have even found their calling as meat cutters," Nielson said.