Steer donations sought

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.

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. 
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.
Steers will be accepted between Oct. 30 and 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

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