Generational Hereford Beef Producer Gives Back to Youth Members

March 28, 2024

Generational Hereford Beef Producer Gives Back to Youth Members

“I love this industry,” said Jon Averhoff, Texas Stardance Cattle LLC, Jonesboro, Texas. “I wouldn’t have been in it this long if I didn’t really love it.”

As a Flat Top Hereford Ranch herdsman, Averhoff's father had his sights on raising Hereford cattle alongside his family. As one of six brothers, he grew up running and showing Hereford cattle, following in his father’s footsteps, taking on the same love for Hereford cattle over eight decades.

Texas Stardance Cattle began in 2007, after Jon bought Hereford cattle from several prominent breeders in different states and venturing into Canada for his genetic search. He now boasts a 225 head operation of registered Hereford’s, while also transitioning to raising feeder cattle and embryo transfers. Texas Stardance Cattle has sold genetics for many years and they now have 60 steers in a feedlot in Kansas.

“We're actually transitioning to producing feeder cattle because our genetics have continually improved every year, especially on the carcass side of production," said Jon. “The show ring has its place, and I sure don't have any issues with it, but I do think the show ring is really distant from actual beef production.”

With these new goals in mind, Averhoff and his wife wanted to give back all that he gained from the agriculture industry to the next generations but was searching for a non-traditional option.

“My wife Beth and I wanted to find an opportunity to support and fund an effort that was going to have a positive impact on our next generation,” he said.

This is when the couple discovered the National Junior Hereford Association’s (NJHA) Fed Steer Shootout program when they talked to Shane Bedwell, chief operating officer and director of breed improvement for the American Hereford Association (AHA).

The NJHA Fed Steer Shootout program focuses on teaching junior members the importance of the business side of the industry and the work it truly takes. The program prides itself on being an industry-leading opportunity for NJHA members to gain invaluable industry education and experience, giving them the opportunity to gain a broad knowledge of the cattle feeding and packing industries through a comprehensive educational contest.

In this contest, students enter an individual or pen-of-three steers, either crossbred or purebred. They must meet entry requirements such as the weight criteria of 600 lbs. and higher, a weaning date of 45 days or more prior, along with other vaccination protocols.

Once these entry requirements are met, juniors work with Trey Befort, director of commercial programs for the AHA to coordinate shipping and delivery to HRC Feed Yards in Scott City, Kan.  Juniors pay for the feed and learn the unpredictability of this sector of the industry. Carcasses from the steers in the contest become candidates for the Certified Hereford Beef program at harvest.

“The support we have received from the Averhoff family for the NJHA Fed Steer Shootout has allowed us to increase participation in the program and continue to develop the program into an industry-leading educational experience,” said Befort.

Averhoff said the NJHA Fed Steer Shootout offered just what they were hoping to find, something that truly taught the business side of the operation.

“Not only do you see the feedlot side, but also the process side,” Averhoff said. “It's all based on economics, rate of gain efficiency, carcass quality, who made money, who didn't make money. It's a very business driven contest that you don’t find anywhere else.”

The NJHA Fed Steer Shootout has continued its growth and is now in its eighth year. In 2021, the program added another aspect, the NJHA Fed Steer Shootout Field Day, giving juniors the opportunity to come to HRC Feed Yards and have a front-line view of cattle feeding and how their own genetics are performing in the feed yard.

“I always wanted to feed some steers in a commercial feed yard, but I never had enough for a full pen,” said Pecos Worrell, 2023 NJHA Fed Steer Shootout participant. “There is not a better way to learn about animal health, nutrition and genetics until you have your own cattle on feed.”

Averhoff said he respects the NJHA Fed Steer Shootout because it connects the kids to the future of the economy in the livestock industry.

“We feel like the NJHA Fed Steer Shootout program really emphasizes the things that impact beef production, so that was one of the reasons that we really were fortunate and felt very good that we're given an opportunity to help sponsor the program,” he said. “It’s a contest so the kids get excited about it and they work on it, so they're driven to do it,”

Jon and Beth said they donate to the program each year while steadily increasing the amount they give. Their driving purpose, in order to make a difference in the industry, is to focus on the upcoming generations and how we can connect to them.

“We’ll absolutely continue our sponsorship,” Averhoff said. “The AHA cares about the future of this industry and its operation, but mostly its kids.”