Montana State University

MSU College of Agriculture seeks steer donations for student program

September 18, 2017 -- MSU News Service

A student in the MSU College of Agriculture's Steer-A-Year program gathers data on donated steers. The program is again seeking steer donations to give students hands-on experience in all aspects of the beef industry. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-GonzalezA student in the MSU College of Agriculture's Steer-A-Year program gathers data on donated steers. The program is again seeking steer donations to give students hands-on experience in all aspects of the beef industry. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

A student in the MSU College of Agriculture's Steer-A-Year program gathers data on donated steers. The program is again seeking steer donations to give students hands-on experience in all aspects of the beef industry. MSU photo by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez

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Tel: (406) 994-4571
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BOZEMAN -- Montana State University’s Steer-A-Year program is seeking steer donations for the 2017-18 academic year. The donated steers will allow agriculture students to gain hands-on learning experience in all aspects of the beef industry, from anatomy to production.

Throughout the academic year, students in the Steer-A-Year program provide daily care for steers that Montana ranchers have donated to the university. The steers are then sold in the spring, and profits from the sales fund student activities in MSU’s College of Agriculture.

Additionally, the steers are used as a co-curricular complement to introductory coursework taught by Hannah DelCurto, instructor and program manager of MSU’s Steer-A-Year program. DelCurto uses the donated steers to provide her students with applied learning experiences in courses in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, such as beef cattle management, professional development in beef production systems, livestock management, and meat science and livestock evaluation.

The donated steers are also used for instruction for MSU’s livestock judging team and animal science internships, which DelCurto coordinates. 

Approximately 22 students from various backgrounds and majors in agricultural studies are enrolled this year in the Steer-A-Year course, according to DelCurto. Last year, MSU Culinary Services purchased 13,000 pounds of beef from the Steer-A-Year program, which will be served in MSU’s Miller Dining Commons and at other university events this year. 

“We received wonderful industry support, and we’re excited about the growth and trajectory of our program,” DelCurto said. “The practical learning experiences these students glean from the program is priceless because the program represents agriculture from the technical scientific foundations all the way to the consumption. It’s a very unique and enriching program for students.”

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 to vaccinations. Students provide steer production data – average daily weight gain, carcass information when the meat is harvested and even genetic testing – to the ranchers who donated them, DelCurto said. Throughout the program, producers receive detailed monthly reports of average daily intakes, feed efficiency and average daily gain. At the end of the program, students provide a detailed carcass report. Students also post steer progress on Facebook at Steer-a-Year at MSU. At the end of the year, awards are presented to steer donors for the best initial feeder steer, the steer with the top rate of gain and best carcass.

DelCurto said Steer-A-Year students learn valuable marketing and communications skills, in addition to technical animal science, all in preparation for the spring steer sale. Funds from the sale of the steers and donations to the program allow students to travel and compete at national level and attend statewide events, such as the Montana Farm Bureau Convention and the Montana Stockgrowers Association meetings. Donated steers directly impact students, particularly those on the livestock judging team.

“The funds allow judging team members to compete nationally and learn the importance of professionally representing Montana and MSU,” she said. “One of the main goals of the program is to provide opportunities for students to develop confidence in environments outside of the classroom.”

Patrick Hatfield, head of MSU’s Department of Animal and Range Sciences, said the program provides a critical link between current agribusiness practice and the classroom.

“Hannah has a done a wonderful job in her few years as our Steer-A-Year and livestock judging leader, and we’re excited to watch the program grow at MSU,” Hatfield said. “We’re thankful to our supporters and producers who also see value in connecting production agriculture to the classroom for MSU students.”

Contributions to the program can be made in the form of a live steer, cash, proceeds from an auction market sale, and gifts of feed, grain or forage. All donations are considered charitable contributions.

Steers will be accepted between Oct. 30and Nov. 17. Ideally, steers should weigh 500-800 pounds, be weaned and healthy and healed from castration and dehorning before arriving at MSU. Transportation and brand inspection paperwork is requested as well.  

For more information about the Steer-A-Year program, including how to donate a steer or transportation support for steer donation, contact DelCurto at 406-994-3752 or hannah.delcurto@montana.edu. 

Contact: Hannah DelCurto, hannah.delcurto@montana.edu, 406-994-3752

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