Lincoln, Neb. —Nebraska 4-H, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Animal Science, offered the second year of the Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge in 2020.
The Fed Steer Challenge cultivates the next generation of leaders in the Nebraska cattle industry by providing youth opportunities. This challenge enhances the educational value of traditional 4-H beef projects and provides affordable options to reward production merit and market animal carcass value; accurate and complete record keeping practices; industry and research knowledge; and producer engagement with the 4-H member.
The program has seen positive participant outcomes in 2019 and 2020, engaging 20 youth from 15 Nebraska counties. These youth selected, purchased, exhibited, harvested, and analyzed carcass data on a steer while networking with industry professionals. Additionally, working as a learning cohort, they participated in monthly educational opportunities led by industry professionals and Animal Science faculty.
“This project is a little different in that I had my own steer that I paid for myself and had to make the decisions for. In the past, my dad or someone else was making these decisions and I just worked with my animal,” said a participant. “I have learned a lot about feeding and what each ingredient is doing for my animal.”
Alongside these youth, large crowds at the Nebraska State Fair received expert instruction from a commercial cattle buyer about sorting and evaluating steers. This exemplified real-world industry standards of carcass merit, grade-ability, and finish. Unanimously, the youth participants agree the Fed Steer Challenge helped them gain valuable knowledge regarding the beef industry - namely, how to feed a market animal more efficiently. Because of their program involvement, these youth plan to stay in the cattle industry to become future beef industry advocates.
This year’s Nebraska participants included: Lacey Schmidt (Thayer County), Lydia Fitzke (Adams County), Ty Ostendorf (Howard County), Callee Carman (Buffalo County), Donald Rohr (Frontier County), Elijah Walters (Box Butte County), Conner Snyder (Frontier County), and Dillon Heath (Frontier County).
Winners in each category were:
To learn more about the fed steer challenge, visit: https://4h.unl.edu/fed-steer-challenge