A growing student program in Montana State University’s College of Agriculture is seeking donations of steers, feed, or financial support for the 2019-20 academic year.
The Steer-A-Year program allows students to learn about every element of cattle management through hands-on involvement. Students feed and raise the cattle through the winter and spring, collecting data about daily intakes, feed efficiency and weight gain, while also learning about beef marketing and cattle health. The steers are used in courses like Beef Production, Meat Science and Livestock Evaluation.
Donated steers are raised at the Bozeman Agriculture Research and Teaching Farm. Steer-A-Year program manager Hannah DelCurto-Wyffels said that to ensure success in their new setting, calves should be weaned, castrated and dehorned before they are donated and should weigh 500-800 pounds. The ideal pickup period for calves is Oct. 28 to Nov. 15.
DelCurto-Wyffels, also an instructor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences and the coordinator for MSU’s livestock judging team, said raising cattle is new for some students and the hands-on approach highlighted by Steer-A-Year is the primary reason students sign up for the program.
“We spend about half the time in the classroom going over different principles that we might be encountering during different times of the year,” said DelCurto-Wyffels. “So that includes marketing cattle, feedlot rations, health of those animals. The second part of the class is students are out on the farm working with these stairs from a hands-on standpoint. That's I think one of the biggest educational aspects that students can get from the class is being able to get out be at the farm and deal with these cattle on a day-to-day basis.”
Once steers maturity and ready for harvest, the steers are sold to MSU Culinary Services, where the meat is served in both the Miller and Rendezvous dining halls. The partnership is part of the focus on local food that earned MSU’s dining program a number of national awards earlier this year.
The money brought in by the steers primarily funds travel for student teams such as the livestock judging team, which competes in national events as far away as Texas. The funds also help facilitate trips to industry meetings such as the Montana Farm Bureau Convention and Montana Stockgrowers Association meetings, where students have a chance to network and communicate with professionals in the field.
Those interested in donating or learning more about the Steer-A-Year program can contact DelCurto-Wyffels at 406-994-3752 or firstname.lastname@example.org .