Western Illinois University’s 44th Annual Performance Tested Bull Sale

Looking for a way to improve your overall beef herd? Please join us to celebrate this 44 year long tradition on March 11, 2016 at 7 p.m. in the WIU Livestock Center for the Annual Performance Tested Bull Sale. The students, faculty, and staff at WIU work tirelessly each year to bring a quality set of bulls to buyers. WIU conducts an annual performance bull test to provide reliable, unbiased performance information on bulls entered into the program and to provide a source of performance tested seedstock to the beef industry.  Western Illinois University’s Performance Bull Test is currently one of two universities in the state to offer this service to beef producers, and is fortunate to be located in a beef cattle rich region of the state.  The WIU Performance Tested Bull Sale, held at the conclusion of each 112-day test, provides its consignors with opportunities to market their bulls with an abundance of available data to a broad customer base. Additionally, the

Lowderman at WIU's Annual Bull Sale
Lowderman at WIU’s Annual Bull Sale

WIU Performance Bull Test allows these same consignors the opportunity to test their genetics against others in this Tri-state region.  Since 2012, the WIU Performance Tested Bull Sale has broken the record sale average, with the 2015 sale posting the highest average price in the history of the sale indicating that there is a demand for bulls that have been performance tested and marketed with supporting data and genetic information.

Currently there are 73 bulls on test: Angus, Hereford, Red Angus, Simmental and Composite. Bulls were weighed on test on October 20th and 21st and will be weighed off test on February 9th and 10th.

Bulls that qualify for sale will have met multiple performance expectations throughout the 112 day performance test. To be qualified to enter the test, bulls are required to be weaned by mid-August, to have received a series of prescribed vaccinations and booster vaccinations under guidance of a veterinarian, screened for persistent BVD (Bovine Viral Diarrhea), and proven free of any genetic defects. They also have to test negative for Anaplasmosis and their dams have to test negative for Johne’s disease. Once at WIU, bulls are penned based on breed and size. After an adjustment period, bulls are weighed on-test on two consecutive days and the average of these two weights is their official on test weight. Once on gain test, bulls are weighed every 28 days. Bulls are also ultrasounded for carcass measurements prior to the end of the test. At the end of 112 days, bulls are weighed off of test on two consecutive days and the average of these weights is their official off test weight. Once off of test, a bull must have an overall index of 80 to qualify for the sale.

The overall index is calculated: 70% ADG + 15% REA + 15% IMF.

Where ADG = average daily gain; REA = ribeye measurements from carcass ultrasound; and IMF = intramuscular fat measurement from carcass ultrasound. Bulls indexing over 80 are tested for reproductive soundness and evaluated for structural soundness and disposition. Those bulls indexing over 80 and passing qualifying reproductive and structural exams qualify for the sale. Each year, approximately 50, or more, bulls sell in the annual sale. The sale catalog includes ADG, fat thickness, REA, marbling, frame score, EPDs, weights, birthdates, and indexes on all bulls that qualified for the sale. “The WIU bull test provides as much, if not more, documented data than any other bull test sale in the Midwest.  This test has helped breeders to identify those important profit making genetic markers and performance indicators; so that they can offer and provide a documented premium product.  For some families, it has become a tradition for two and three generations to purchase their herd sire at the WIU Bull Sale,” Monte Lowderman, auctioneer and herdsman.

The students, faculty, and staff that help put on the 43rd Annual Bull Sale.
The students, faculty, and staff that helped put on the 43rd Annual Bull Sale.

This program does more than develop and market bulls and collect data for producers while offering quality genetics to bidders and buyers; it teaches students skills related to animal behavior and handling, animal health, nutrition, genetics and reproduction, as well as livestock merchandising. More than 250 student hours are involved in this event from beginning to end.  Students are involved in all aspects of the test—feeding, monitoring health, sale preparation, as well as serving as sale staff.

More information can be found on the WIU Bull Test website.

Written by Melody Kaecker

I was not raised in a farming family nor did we have livestock growing up, but living outside a small rural town inspired me to further my education in agriculture. I am a Senior at Western Illinois University, majoring in Agriculture Science and minoring in Ag Business, Animal Science and Agronomy. I will be graduating in December of 2016 and plan on returning home to pursue a job at an agronomy company.

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