Where I am from, most of the show steers are March or April calves and will finish a show career anywhere from a county fair in July-Aug., State fair in Sept., American Royal in Oct., just depends how long they get held.
14 to 16 months is a good age BUT the most important thing is how finished is he? Some steers / breeds take longer to finish than others. Also will depend on what condition he is in at weaning. A really "green" steer might take longer than one that has access to creep feed.
We like to shoot for 18 months, give or take a little depending on the individual. It's not impossible, but really hard to get the kind of maturity it takes to compete (in this part of the world anyway) with one less than 16 - 18 months old. There are plenty of 20+ month old steers being shown at the January - March majors in TX and OK, but it gets hard to balance maturity and mass without getting one too heavy and/or stale.
I'm not sure why you are asking your question (which is not stupid) but some shows do have age limits on terminal steers.
Had a steer here a few years ago that we were helping someone get ready for Louisville and while we were clipping him one of his teeth fell out. He suddenly became medium rare on the grill.
So, if you are worried about a steer being too old, just check with your show and see if they mouth the steers.
I am personally way too old in the tooth and have not shown a steer since 1968. What most people do not know about me is that my background is based on fat cattle. I used to have 65 or 70 head in the feedlot all the time. My rule of thumb is that a calf has to be finished and hanging no later than 13 1/2 months. But, targeting a steer for a show is a whole different ball game. An essential for you may be a set of scales so you can watch and control your steer's daily gain.
I probably did not answer your question, but good luck with your steer.
Well, assuming BIGTEX is in Texas, none of the spring majors have an age limit (mouth rule), I don't know about Dallas though. I do also know that there are alot of county shows in TX at all kinds of different times of the year and that some of them have very specific age and/or weight limits, so I'd contact your CEA or VAT about local and/or county rules.
I think that the age of the steers most commonly shown has alot to do with the time of year they're being shown. Down here where we target late January through early March shows, and alot of people calve mid July - September, those are primarily the age cattle we feed for those shows. The same goes for our October state fairs and March - April kind of calves. As you go further toward the midwest, the state fairs get earlier, but the March - April calves are still most common, and they're still what most folks feed, even though their target date is earlier than ours is with calves born at the same time. Prob'ly also has something to do with the fact that most cattle simply won't gain quite as well during the hotter summer months down here as they will further north.
As Malinda said, there's alot of difference in getting a butcher calf ready to eat and feeding out a show steer. The cattle we're showing down here are capable of reaching market weight at a younger age, but one much less than 18 months rarely has the maturity and mass to be a serious competitor, so we bring them along a little slower and try to hit our target weight at a later age.
I sent BigTex a PM to answer this question, but I'll go ahead and post most of it on here.
From my personal experience and what I know for sure about age on some other folks calves, you have two totally different scenarios.
For slick shear shows, calves tend to be quite a bit younger than what it takes for a hair show. To really run in the heavier weight classes and threaten for a breed champion, steers at slick shows like Houston are probably right at that 18-19 month old mark.
Fort Worth calves are a lot older. The breeder of last years grand steer told me personally the day he won that the calf was an April, which would make him 21 months old. The only times we've done real well with exotic calves at Fort Worth has been when we've shown May calves +/-. It takes a much heavier, mature steer pulled down very hard to run at Fort Worth. Your fall borns at Fort Worth need to be pulled down to the lighter wieght classes.
I agree about the maturity thing too, afhm. If you want to win the big ones you must have the right kind with the maturity if you can keep them looking fresh. That seems to be the angle these winners choose in making it to championship spot. Ideally, the younger calves that dress out are more efficient, but who judges that?