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​​Bull Testing Program

This program is administered by the PA Department of Agriculture with Penn State University, the PA Cattleman's Association, and the state breed associations as cooperators.

The objectives of the program are:

    • to identify and promote the use of sires that are genetically superior;
    • to measure growth rate, feed efficiency, carcass characteristics and structural soundness under uniform conditions;
    • to provide information that is normally not available to producers in on-farm testing;
    • to provide information that will be one of the most valuable selection tools available; and
    • to demonstrate how genetics affects differences in beef production with regard to efficiency and end product quality and yield.

The testing facility houses 30-50 bulls in each of 5 pens in a 112-day official gain testing program. The information that is generated for consignors and prospective buyers include:

    • breeder's name and address
    • birth weight
    • 205-day adjusted weaning weight
    • 365-day adjusted weight
    • 112-day average daily gain
    • off-test weight
    • frame score
    • weight per day of age
    • yearling scrotal circumference
    • yearling pelvic area
    • expected progeny differences for growth and maternal traits
    • ultrasonic determination of fat thickness and loin-eye area
    • ultrasonic estimation of quality grade (marbling)

Consignments to the Testing Program

Consignments to the PA Bull Testing Program must meet the following criteria:

    • The sire and dam of the consigned bull must be registered with a national breed association (can be different breeds);
    • Be polled or dehorned
    • The dam of the consignment must be owned by the consignor at the time of the birth of the bull
    • Must be born between January 1 and April 15 of the current year
    • Meet health requirements as outlined in the current nomination application
    • Have a minimum adjusted 205-day weight of 550 lbs
    • Meet acceptable standards of structural soundness and disposition

Bulls are fed in group pens with access to a mixed ration consisting of corn silage, cracked corn, cracked, roasted soybeans, and a mineral/vitamin supplement.  The TMR is fed free-choice and will normally be 13% crude protein and 72% TDN.

Why Should I Consign Bulls?
Performance testing of bulls provides the seedstock producer important information about their own genetic improvement program, as well as making a comparison with other breeders.  The advantages of performance testing include:

    • Bulls are tested and fed in one environment, with similar management so differences in performance are more likely to be genetic
    • Complete performance information is provided
    • Progress in genetic improvement can be tracked over succeeding generations
    • Interim and final provide good advertisement to other breeders and the general public
    • Bulls accepted for sale are offered to a larger pool of prospective buyers

The Pennsylvania Performance Tested Bull Sale

Bulls, which complete the test, may be selected to be sold at auction on the last Friday in March.  Bulls which rank in the top 70%-75% of the test group on an index of performance traits after meeting minimum standards for health and structural soundness, are usually sold.  Sale costs are borne by the consignor as outlined in the nomination application.

Why Should I Buy Performance Tested Bulls?
The information generated by the testing program provides valuable selection tools to increase productivity and profitability in a beef herd.  The selection of potential herd sires is one of the most important decisions made in the cow-calf enterprise.

Field Study

A recent field study in Pennsylvania has shown bulls of known genetic value compared to those with no information available increased calf weaning weights by more than 70 pounds per calf!  Individual results will vary from farm to farm, but the advantage of using genetic information for selection is well documented.  Surveys show more than 75% of buyers of Pennsylvania Livestock Evaluation Center (LEC) performance-tested bulls have realized an increase in productivity in their herds, and nearly half of these managers say the increase was more than 25% over other bulls!

How much more is a performance-tested bull worth? 

Suppose a tested bull will increase weaning weights by 10% in a 30-cow herd in 4 years of use.  Using an 80% weaning rate for those 4 years and a base weaning weight of 500 pounds per calf means the tested bull will produce 5000 more pounds of calf to sell.  At a conservative  average value of $.80 per pound, this makes the tested bull worth $4000 more than another bull in just 4 years of use!  An additional added value will be realized through the increased genetic merit of any retained daughters.