cow

Cattle use an abandoned bridge in a pasture north of Amsterdam in this file photo. 

Montana ranchers are encouraged to donate a steer for the benefit of the learning and development of next generation agricultural producers. Montana State University’s College of Agriculture is seeking donations of steers for its Steer-A-Year program. The program accepts donated steers, monetary support and feed.

The donated steers allow students in the program to engage in hands-on learning of the beef industry. Students participate in applied learning experiences and courses such as beef cattle management, professional development in beef production systems, livestock management, meat science and livestock evaluation.

Through Steer-A-Year, students care daily for steers that Montana ranchers have donated to the university. 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 and vaccinations. Students also provide steer production data – such as average daily weight gain, carcass information when the meat is harvested and even genetic testing to the ranchers who donated them.

Hannah DelCurto Wyffels, instructor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences and Steer-A-Year program manager, said the program has grown from eight to 30 steers in the last few years. The increase in donated steers has increased the number of students who are able to participate in Steer-A-Year, she said.

“The steer contributions are the basis of what we do and what we have the potential to do,” Wyffels said. “Our partnership with Montana livestock producers is one that we’re very proud of, because our stakeholders understand that teaching the next generation of agriculture leaders begins with important first-hand experience for our students.”

Steer-A-Year students sell the steers directly to MSU’s Culinary Services. Last year, students sold 30 steers to the program, and the College of Agriculture and the Montana Made Program in Culinary Services hosted a Montana Steer-A-Year beef dinner for the public in the Miller Dining Commons. The Steer-A-Year cattle are processed at Pioneer Meats in Big Timber and are used for anything from large rotisserie roasts to stews in campus dining halls and university events. One of the finest cuts, New York strip steak, is grilled at the First Meal event, when up to 4,000 new students gather for an outdoor picnic at MSU’s Romney Oval.

Donated steers make a direct impact on students, particularly those participating in the livestock judging team, Wyffels said.

Steers will be accepted between Oct. 31 and Nov. 18. For more information about the Steer-A-Year program or how to donate a steer, contact Wyffels at 406-994-3752 or Hannah.delcurto@montana.edu.