BOZEMAN — Montana State University’s College of Agriculture is seeking donations of steers for its Steer-A-Year program, which allows students to continue their hands-on learning of the beef industry.
Donated steers provide students with applied learning experiences in courses such as beef cattle management, professional development in beef production systems, livestock management, meat science and livestock evaluation, according to Hannah Del Curto, instructor and program manager. She added that in the last few years, the program has grown from eight steers to 25 steers – which has also increased the number of students who are able to participate in Steer-A-Year.
Approximately 20 students from various backgrounds and majors in agriculture studies are enrolled this year in the Steer-A-Year course, Del Curto said. She noted that the practical learning experiences with the steers is valuable for all of those students.
“The steer contributions are the basis of what we do and what we have the potential to do,” Del Curto 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.”
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 to vaccinations. Students 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, as well, Del Curto said.
Last year, the College of Agriculture and the Montana Made Program in University Food Services forged a new partnership that resulted in the purchase of 3,600 pounds of beef from Steer-A-Year. The beef will be served in MSU’s Miller Dining Commons and at other university events this year, according to Amy Bordeau, coordinator of the Montana Made Program.
Donated steers make a direct impact on students, particularly those participating in the livestock judging team, Del Curto said.
“The funds allow judging team members to compete nationally and learn the importance of professionally representing Montana and MSU,” she said. “The entire program represents agriculture from every corner: animal science education, business, economics and, finally, getting the product to the consumer. It’s a rich program that benefits our students immensely.”
Last year, Steer-A-Year student members were also able to attend professional conferences, including the Montana Farm Bureau Convention.
MSU Department of Animal and Range Sciences Department Head Patrick Hatfieldsaid the program provides a critical link between current agribusiness practice and the classroom.
“Under Hannah’s leadership, the Steer-A-Year program at MSU has grown immensely, with one of the greatest benefits being that students are offered the ability to connect hands-on learning and classroom curricula with Montana’s real-time livestock and agribusiness industries,” Hatfield said. “The professional development and networking opportunities for students provided by Steer-A-Year program funds are immeasurable.”
Steers will be accepted between Oct. 31 and Nov. 18. They will be housed and fed at the BART farm west of Bozeman. Performance data will be taken and sent out to donors as collected. Awards will also be presented to the best initial feeder steer, the steer with the top rate of gain and best carcass. Profit from sales of the steers will fund student activities in the College of Agriculture.
For more information about the Steer-A-Year program or how to donate a steer, contact Del Curto Wyffels at (406) 994-3752 or Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org.