MSU Extension and MSGA announce 2011 Steer of Merit certifications |

MSU Extension and MSGA announce 2011 Steer of Merit certifications

Montana State University (MSU) Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) distinguished 206 “Steers of Merit” out of nearly 900 entries for 2011. Out of 790 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 186 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 20 out of 96 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. 15-17 in Billings at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana. The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were: 1. Kelsey Ovik, Flathead County (Craig Blevins, breeder); 2. Cody Campbell, Flathead County (Mark Passmore, breeder); 3. Gavin Maloney, Blaine County (Randy Maloney, breeder); 4. Matt Riffel, Chouteau County (O’Hara Land and Cattle, breeder); and 5. Sam Wood, Madison County (Sam Wood, breeder).

The top five steer entries in the Ultrasound Division were: 1. Jasmine Chagnon, Hill County (Diamond K Ranch, breeder); 2. Mick Mosher, Yellowstone County (Merrill Morris, breeder); 3. Katie Beck, Hill County (Tony Reum, breeder); 4. Ashley Hofland, Hill County (Gary Meland, breeder); and 5. Natalen Kinsella (Larry Kinsella, breeder).

The number of Steer of Merit certifications for 2011 increased by 16 steers, with 14 fewer entries submitted compared to 2010.

“Steer of Merit certification was higher in 2011 than in the past several years, probably due to excellent feeding conditions during the cool summer,” 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 MSGA and MSU 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 ribeye 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 at 406-874-8286.

– MSGA release