On March 10th, 2017 the WIU Livestock Center was filled with everyone from the young boy with the oversized cowboy hat to the older gentleman that must use his cane to get around. Some drove from out of state and some only lived five minutes away. There was one thing in common with all of these people… they were ready to see what amazing progress the fifty out of sixty bulls had made while at the WIU Annual Bull Test!
When you first walk into the Livestock Center, your senses will be overwhelmed. The sight of all the bulls ready for sale, the smell of the charcoal grill that was preparing the meals for the night, and the overall feel of what the night would hold. The women of Western’s Sigma Alpha sorority were ready to serve up some delicious ribeye and pork chop sandwiches, and never forgetting to remind everyone about the homemade desserts waiting for them after they finish their meal. We always love having multiple trips from the same families when it comes to 2nds or even 3rds on dinner!
If you raise your hand you better have that number ready! When the auctioneer, Monte Lowderman, gets to rolling the ears perk up and everyone’s eyes are on the prize. He doesn’t have to do too much work selling these bulls, they sell themselves! Western Illinois University has a long line of credibility when it comes to the 45th Annual Bull Test and everyone knows it. Ribeye ratio, EPDs, birth weight, calving ease, and the list goes on. Monte did not let a bull go bye without the crowd knowing just how amazing he was. These bulls have every detail listed about them in the online and paper catalog. The students and staff that ran the bull test didn’t miss a step when making sure the buyer knew what he or she was getting.
The amount of work that goes into this bull sale does not start the day of, it starts long before that. Near the end of June, students and staff assisting with the bull test will send out information to breeders from all over the country. This will lead breeders into knowing when they need to stop vaccinating their bulls for certain things so they will be eligible for the test which is usually late July and early August. By late August the final entries are due to the school. This year the bulls were delivered the weekend of September 27th and 28th. After they are delivered they will have till mid October to get settled into their new environment before they are put on test. Throughout the 120 days these bulls are on test, they will be weighed to see how their progress is coming along. After the 120 days they will be taken off test and get to relax until sale day.
As we entered the end of the sale, the ribeyes and pork chops are slim to none, the pies are selling for free, and the sale is still just as exciting as it was when the first bull was sold. When we were done with the sale I wanted a student’s perspective on what it was like in the pens. I asked Rachel Hill what her experience was like tonight and this is what she had to say: “Even though it was spring break, we had a lot of dedicated students come out and help. It was definitely a new experience.”
The 2018 Bull Sale will take place on March 9th after the bulls are delivered to the WIU Bull Test in September and be put on test in October. For more information about this year’s bull sale and what kind of bulls come out of our test, please visit our WIU Bull Sale Facebook page or the WIU Bull Sale website.
My name is Courtney Bedtka, I am a senior at Western Illinois University with a major in Agricultural Business with a focus in Animal Science. I am from Ashland, Illinois, where I have worked at West Central Bank since 2013. While attending WIU, I have joined Sigma Alpha, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and Hoof N’ Horn.
Thank you for reading!