teen girl leads black baldy calf around muddy arena

The Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge is an opportunity for youth interested in learning more about the cattle industry and is designed to cultivate the next generation of leaders in the Nebraska cattle industry.

The goal of the Fed Steer Challenge is to enhance the educational value of the traditional 4-H beef projects by providing an affordable option that rewards production merit and carcass value of the market animal, along with accurate and complete record-keeping, industry knowledge, and producer engagement by the 4-H member.

Contest Components

  1. Raising a commercial steer
    • 4-H member selects and raises a commercial steer to finished market weight.
    • Utilize management and nutrition protocols similar to a commercial feedlot.
    • Maintain a detailed record book related to the management and feeding of the steer.
    • Exhibit steer in the 4-H Fed Steer Challenge class at the Nebraska State Fair where steers will be visually evaluated by a commercial cattle buyer representing a packer. 
    • Sell cattle on a Quality and Yield Based Carcass Grid.
    • Following the live exhibition, steers will be transported to a commercial packer, harvested and carcass data collected.
  2. Evaluation of 4-H member's knowledge and interpersonal skills
    • Knowledge related to their project and the cattle industry as a whole
    • Accuracy and details related to a record book
    • Interview with representatives from the cattle industry

Expectations & Responsibilities of Participants

Youth interested in participating in the Nebraska 4-H Fed Steer Challenge must:

  • Be an enrolled 4-H member and at least 14 years of age as of December 31 of the current year.
  • Have the financial ability to purchase a market steer at the current market price in January (~$850) and obtain insurance for the market value of the steer.
  • Source a steer on their own or select a steer from a pool of identified program producers.
  • Obtain an official starting weight for their steer at a county 4-H weigh-in event. If their enrolled county does not have an official weight-in, youth may attend the weigh-in of any county.
  • Provide adequate facilities and adhere to YQCA practices to ensure proper management and well-being of the animal.
  • Actively participate in online and face-to-face educational programming offered by Nebraska Animal Science faculty. Must participate in a minimum of 90% of educational opportunities offered between January and December.
  • Exhibit Steer in the Nebraska Fed Steer market steer class at the  Nebraska State Fair. At that time, steers will be harvested at a commercial packer and participants will be paid based on the current market value.
  • Maintain accurate production records related to raising the animal, complete the record book, and submit immediately following the industry interview at the Nebraska State Fair.
  • Complete an industry interview highlighting their project and knowledge gained to industry representatives.
  • Additional educational and networking opportunities may be identified throughout the year and youth should make every effort to fully participate.


Recognition will include awarding the top three individuals in:

  • Carcass merit and value
  • Growth performance
  • Record book
  • Industry interview
  • Overall program score

And the top five individuals in:

  • Overall program score

Overall program scores include all points added from carcass merit, growth performance, record book, industry interviews, as well as State Fair placing and educational participation points. 

2024 Program Schedule

2024 application deadline December 1, 2023 Application Form (2024)
Calf selection December TBD, 2023 TBA
Introductory webinar for selected participants January 10, 2024 Zoom
Assignment: schedule site visit #1 January TBD, 2024 TBD
Education Webinar: winter feeding, care of feedlot cattle, assignment February 14, 2024 Zoom
Education Webinar: general animal care and handling, halter training March 13, 2024 Zoom
Educational Webinar: effects of growth enhancement tools in feedlot cattle April 10, 2024 Zoom
Educational Webinar: the impact of cattle on the environment May 8, 2024 Zoom
Assignment: schedule site visit #2 May TBD, 2024 TBD
Educational Webinar: what is the beef check-off and how does it add value to beef, assignment June 12, 2024 Zoom
Assignment: schedule site visit #3 June TBD, 2024 TBD
Education Webinar: summer feeding, care of feedlot cattle, assignment July 10, 2024 Zoom
Educational Webinar: beef quality and yield grading, grid pricing August 14, 2024 Zoom
Live animal check-in August 23, 2024 Nebraska State Fair
Grand Island, NE
Industry Interviews August 24, 2024 Nebraska State Fair
Grand Island, NE
Record Books due August 24, 2024 Nebraska State Fair
Grand Island, NE
Market Beef Show August 25, 2024 Nebraska State Fair
Grand Island, NE
Load and ship steers August 25, 2024 Nebraska State Fair
Grand Island, NE
Awards Presentation September 2, 2024 TBA

*All dates and locations are tentative. Final dates, times, and specific location details will be communicated to participants.




Veterinary Science

For questions about this program or the information on this page, please contact: