University News

Bull Test Entries Accepted

June 26, 2008

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MACOMB, IL -- Entries are now being accepted for the 37th Annual Western Illinois University Bull Testing Program. According to Ken Nimrick and Bruce Engnell, co-directors of the program, entries for the 112-day test are open to any breed and are due Sunday, Aug. 31; however, bulls must be weaned and started on a
pre-conditioning program no later than Friday, Aug. 22.

"The WIU Bull Test offers breeders the opportunity to compare their bulls against bulls from other breeders when fed and managed in the same environment," Engnell said. "It also provides them the opportunity to get data on their bull's feed efficiency -- how many pounds of feed a bull must eat to put on a pound of body weight.

"Things are changing in the beef industry. High energy, land and feed costs are altering the way we will do business in the future," Nimrick added. "Feed efficiency has always been important, but we have tended to focus on out put (weaning weights, yearling weights, ADG) in our beef selection programs in the past. High cost inputs are altering the equation."

Engnell noted that balanced rations and good management can affect feed efficiency and cost of production; however, studies show that approximately 40 percent of the differences in feed efficiency are accounted for by genetics. Reduced feed usage means higher profits from a producer's next calf crop, he added.

"A bull requiring only one pound less feed per pound of gain than another bull will transmit approximately 40 percent of that advantage or 0.4 pound less feed per pound of gain to his offspring compared to the other bull," Engnell explained. "With ration costs approaching $220 per ton and each animal gaining 800 pounds from weaning to harvest, the result is a savings in feed cost of $35.20 per animal. If that bull sires 100 calves over his lifetime he will put $3,520 more in your bank account compared to the other bull."

According to Nimrick, few on-farm testing situations can gather this type of data, and it is extremely important for the breeders' economics. In addition to average daily gain and feed efficiency, the WIU Bull Test Program provides information on weight per day of age, scrotal circumference, pelvic area, ribeye area, fat depth and marbling.

"The bulls are also indexed, so the breeder gets a rather substantial amount of information in a situation that provides an unbiased comparison," Nimrick pointed out. "We've made some changes in the testing program, and hope that breeders, old and new, will find the test to be an invaluable part of their performance program."

In addition to the testing program, bulls will have ultrasonic data gathered to be included in their breed's EPD program. At the conclusion of the test, a sale of the top bulls will be held March 20, 2009.

"The days of having cattle 'just for fun' are gone," Engnell said. "Today's cattle producer is extremely conscious of the 'bottom line' and the bulls can make that 'bottom line' appear a lot brighter."

For more information on the program, contact either Nimrick at 309/298-1288 or Engnell at 309/298- 2613 (days) or 309/298-1276 (nights). For an entry packet contact the WIU agriculture department at
309/298-1080. Entry forms for this year's test, along with information on last year's program, can also be found at

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing