ROBSTOWN - The Carcass Steer Check-In, an event at the 83rd Nueces County Junior Livestock Show, took place at the Richard M. Borchard Fairgrounds on Monday January 8.

“A Carcass Steer is a castrated bull that is raised to be slaughtered, and is ultimately judged on the quality of its meat,” stated Steven Williams, General Superintendent of the fairgrounds.

The purpose of the check-in is to weigh the Carcass Steer. To qualify for competition, a steer must weigh at least 1,000 pounds. The average weight of the 13 Carcass Steers checked in Monday was 1400 to 1500 pounds. This was the first year the event used a digital electronic scale.

After being weighed in, the steer are taken to Sam Kane’s for slaughter where the contestants receive approximately $2 per pound for their steer.

The majority of the scoring for this competition is determined by the grade of the meat - Prime, Choice, or Select.

“This cannot be determined until after the animal is butchered,” remarked 17-year-old Macie Scarborough, “the more marbling - the better.”

Macie has been raising Carcass Steer since the third grade. Next year, she will be attending Texas A&M University where she will pursue a major in agri-business with a minor in agri-communications. She feels fortunate to have been exposed to agriculture at such a young age, and became excited to witness first hand the means by which beef is processed through her grandfather’s meat-packing plant. This experience is what inspired her to raise her own Carcass Steer.

Macie aspires to work as a spokeswoman for the Farm Bureau. She’s passionate about educating the public and making people more aware of the hard work and sacrifice that’s behind the beef, fruits, and vegetables that everyone purchases in our local supermarkets.  

Another contestant, Hanna Walker, 11, said, “Each Carcass Steer has its own personality. I’m amazed by how much I learn from them.” Hanna said that she does get attached to the animals and sometimes it is sad to let go, but she continued, “the only reason they are raised is to be slaughtered, and well, I just love beef! So I’ve learned to let go.”

The participants in Monday’s event were: Hanna Wright, Grant Miller, Case Scarborough, Macie Scarborough, Jake Rebecek, Cutter Scarborough, Sydney Havelka, Collin Havelka, Paityn Havelka, Hallee Hermann, Sarita Nelson, and Shelby Wright.

All of the contestants are required to keep a Record Book that catalogues all the feedings and medicines given to their steer while being raised. In essence it’s a formal journal that lists all of the tasks; the hard work and commitment the youngsters engaged in to raise their steer. It would show, for example how much feed was given to their Carcass Steer per pound gained by the animal. On Saturday Jan. 13, the participants have to present their Record Books for review in what is termed the “Carcass Steer Interview.”  Further points are earned here, and then on Friday Jan. 19, Carcass Steer Awards are presented in the Main Arena for first and second place.

A common theme heard from all of the contestants was how blessed they felt to be involved in raising Carcass Steer, as it has taught them the importance of being responsible, and has benefitted them in other areas of their life.

“It’s a lot of work,” Hanna Wright said.

By the way these youngsters and young adults interacted with their animals, their parents, and each other, this business of Carcass Steer raising is not only helping to pay their way through college, while teaching many valuable “real world” lessons, it is at its core, a genuine and infectious labor of love.