beef ribeye picture

Photo by Megan Van Emon, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Montana State University.

Montana State University Extension and the Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) distinguished 160 “Steers of Merit” out of 1,099 entries for 2018. Out of 719 steers entered in the Carcass Division, 121 were deemed Steers of Merit. In the Ultrasound Division, 39 out of 380 entries received the distinction.  The number of Steer of Merit certifications for 2018 decreased by 21 steers compared to 2017.

The exhibitors of the top five steers in each category were honored at MSGA’s Annual Convention, Dec. 11-13 in Billings at the Northern Ag Network Lunch. The top five steer entries in the Carcass Division were: 1) Emma Ervin, Flathead County (Kimberly and Shane Lowry, breeder); 2) Creed Stroh, Garfield County (Jake Stroh, breeder); 3) Kyla Andres, Missoula County (Tom Andres, breeder); 4) Regan Clairmont, Lake County (Jeff Clairmont, breeder); and 5) Kassidy May, Flathead County (OK Cattle, breeder).

The top five steer entries in the Ultrasound Division were: 1) Tana Kostelecky, Richland County (Esther Hansen Trust & Rambur Charolais, breeder); 2) Kaydin Kumpala, Yellowstone County (breeder unknown); 3) Garrett Bromenshenk, Yellowstone County (breeder unknown); 4) Garrett Ledger, Yellowstone County (breeder unknown); and 5) Rory Shay, Yellowstone County (breeder unknown).

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 Committee in the areas of hot carcass weight, dressing percent, fat thickness over 12th rib (back fat), 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.