How to select a steer?

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Annoth
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How to select a steer?

Postby Annoth » Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:40 pm

For my school district's FFA show, all our animals come from one breeder & are picked at a selection. I'm pretty sure there'll be only a 30 minute pre-viewing before everyone goes in the order they were assigned for another 5 or 10 minutes of viewing and selecting. There will be garenteed something wrong with these animals (most breeders around here are pretty hardcore. Best being kept as stock and the rest sold) cow hocks, knocked knees, doesnt gain very fast, lazy, aggressive, messy front, and so on. Our school district isnt too huge on FFA and even less with steers due to price. I expect since this year the price increased 50%, that about 60 people will buy meaning about 100 calves will be there. What should I prioritize in that short of a time? My current steer is a wide and moderately (closer to heavy vs light) boned heavyweight. Through feeding, exercise and his genetics I put more pure meat on him than what is considered good even for commercial stock. This time around I was going to focus the most on length, lighter boned, then consider width. Any structural problems I wont be able to hide in the show ring, I wont consider that steer.

I'm also considering one for the county show on the condition my steer makes enough money. This calf will be more for first hand experience rather than winning show, but it'd be nice to make it to auction! If he does, I know where I'm going to get the calf but will only have about 5 months (the show is this October) What age is best for show? I'll have a range of 4 month olds to 1+ years if need be. I can even request a 3 month old to be weaned (he lets the cows do it but will cut them off at 7 months or on request) When I got my current steer, I was told 18 months is prime so I bought him last April as a 6 month old. I want to stick with a younger calf to again have a lighter steer but more allowance on bones and body but still focusing on length & structure.

Ideas or tips? The guy with the calves I want for county isnt as hardcore as others. Doesnt show but breeds for it. Though he doesnt creep or feed show feeds. That means they're pretty small but have good bull blood like Monopoly and Yellow Jacket. Should I be ready for a growth explosion once they go on full feed, hay and minerals?
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Aaron
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Re: How to select a steer?

Postby Aaron » Tue Mar 11, 2014 6:20 pm

Is this for a show steer or a fat market steer? If the latter, structure isn't a big concern.
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shortybreeder
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Re: How to select a steer?

Postby shortybreeder » Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:12 am

To be honest, it can make a difference on where you're located. In the south I've heard that they want slow growers (to show multiple seasons I guess), but up here in MN I have a registered Shorthorn steer that was born on July 12, 2013, and I plan to show him in mid-august and late-august for our terminal shows (he's definitely gonna be a lightweight). To be honest, I think he would really do great in an October show, so I guess I would recommend for you to pick up a July steer that weighs ~750 pounds right now. As for the growth explosion question, do you have any other steers that you will feed with those small steers? Because cattle have remarkable compensatory gain abilities, so if you have a bigger steer (not too big or he could hurt them) then they should grow quite rapidly to catch up (assuming they are old enough and physiologically ready).
For the main question of what to look for, there is always something wrong with an animal, it's just about finding the right combination of things that are right and accenting them with the fitting. Are the calves all black? If not, I would find something flashy that will catch the judges attention, a nice golden char composite or a roan (blue>red) shorthornPlus would do great for the eye-appeal factor. Pick one that is level across the top with a wide, deep belly. If he looks like he's hiding a wine barrel in his stomach, he's probably a good one. If they all have kegs in their guts, then they've probably got some sort of depth charge/beet pulp filler in them, and then I wouldn't put too much emphasis on that as long as they are all pretty similar. Here is a link to a pdf file that explains what judges look for in the show ring. Basically it will tell you what to look for in selecting a prospect, as it is pretty much the same thing on a smaller scale. Beef cattle start on page 8, with the "ideal" market steer on page 12. http://afs4hyouth.ca.uky.edu/files/judg ... D4H402.pdf
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Re: How to select a steer?

Postby VCC » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:18 am

When selecting a steer I start at the ground and go up, they need to stand square with some natural width to their stance, feet need to all be pointing north, you want some flex to their pasterns. You want one with some length to the cannon bone, with a short cannon bone you get a calf that tends to be early maturing. Flex to the hock, smooth shoulder with some angle to it. Calf should have a square hip, level from hooks to pins and a clean top line. You want balance, deep ribbed, with some muscle, watch for a tight flank and heart girth area (stay away from these), you want some neck extension and clean fronted. You want some bone on them as well.

The first calf, at first look he looks like a calf with some power, at closer look structurally he is a mess, Toes point in 4 different directions, his pasterns are strait, and his shoulder angle is to strait as well, he is over on his front legs, his body is good, but with the structure problems, his toes point in 4 different directions, his pasterns are strait, and his shoulder angle is to strait as well, he is over on his front legs, his body is good, but with the structure problems he will only get worse as he gets heavier,

The second calf has good feet, pointing in the same direction, he has flex to his pasterns, nice slope to his shoulder, with a good top line, he has depth and balance. He is not an over powering type of calf but has his parts in the right place. Both calves have adequate bone.

Disposition, If they have a bad one their off the list. A scared calf can be calmed down, a mean calf will more than likely stay that way, it is not worth it. If the calf would rather charge you than get away, pass it up.
Based off of your description of what type of calves they send you if you to sort through, if you see a real good one I’m willing to bet they may have an attitude problem.

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VCC
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Re: How to select a steer?

Postby VCC » Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:34 am

It was stated that structure is not a big concern with fat steers, if a steer is not able to walk to the feed bunk, it does not matter how good he looks, he will get knocked down in the ring. There will not be a perfect steer; they will all have faults, it is just a matter of sifting through and finding the one whose faults are outweighed by his positives.
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