CANYON CITY - This year, kids who raise steers for the Kiwanis Livestock Auction at the Grant County Fair have a special incentive to raise not just good animals, but good beef.
Russell's Custom Meats is offering a silver belt buckle as a prize for the best grading carcass to come from the competition.
The buckle, designed and crafted by noted artisans Liz and Lonnie Davis, says "Grand Champion Carcass, 4-H - FFA, Grant County 2008." The back is initialed "LD" and also reads, "Russell's."
Russell's processes most of the market steers from the livestock auction.
Tracy Moss, owner of Russell's, said the competition idea came up last year when he found that only one of the youths' steers was "choice" quality. The rest were "select."
Beef is graded to indicate its flavor and tenderness, which stem from the marbling of fat in the meat. The best quality is rated prime, followed by choice, select and "no roll."
Moss said he felt the youth participating in the competition needed to learn about what makes good beef.
"The kids need to know what's going on on the inside, not just the outside," he said. "They put a lot of time and effort into raising these animals. We want them to get the most out of that."
He said Gary Delaney, a Grant County OSU Extension agent, will meet with the participants in advance to help them understand how to feed their market steers for optimum quality. He also will work with Russell's to rate the carcass quality after the fair.