On March 29, Pennsylvania's beef industry will celebrate a 40-year milestone of improving genetics via the state's Performance Bull Testing Program. The 40th Anniversary Performance-Tested Bull Sale is set for Noon, Friday, March 29, at Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's Livestock Evaluation Center at Rock Springs.
In 2003, the center moved to its current location and became a regional testing site, drawing top-performing bulls from New England to the Gulf Coast, the Midwest and overseas. The first performance bull tests were 140 days long, reporting data derived from weights taken at points in the test plus estimated carcass measurements.
Since then, performance data categories grew and improved. Breed associations introduced expected progeny differences plus evaluations of an animal's genetic worth. The center began administering breeding soundness exams.
Today, participating bulls complete a shorter 112-day performance test with a three week break from the intensive feeding regimen before the sale. Bull performance has also grown via feed technology and genetics.
Average daily gain for the 1973 bull test ranged between 2 to 3.5 pounds. This year, average daily gain ranges from 3.0 to 5.24 pounds.
"We've made great strides in improving beef cattle," affirms Penn State Animal Scientist John Comerford.
"Productivity has increased in nearly 75% of performance-tested bull buyers' herds.
Through improvements in carcass traits, feed efficiency and genetics passed to the next generation, bulls from the testing program provide $100,000 to $200,000 annually in added value through higher weaning weights alone." They also pass improved performance along to feedlots and replacement heifers, he adds.
Even as EPDs and genomic testing become more important, the center provides real-world information and bulls for a regional beef industry with smaller cow numbers. "Environment affects performance," points out Penn State Veterinarian Dr. Lester Griel, who serves the center. "While genetic information shows us how bulls may perform, not all genes are expressed equally. This test shows how bulls perform in the real world."
The testing center has adapted to producer needs, turning to web video site YouTube to show producers videos of the bulls being offered for sale. LiveAuctions.tv will stream auction video live on the web, giving producers a chance to bid from their farms. Sale catalogs are available from the center's website, as are
Evaluation Center Manager Gregory Hubbard calls it a one-stop-shop for top-notch bulls to fit any producer's needs. The center also offers testing programs for goats, pigs and sheep throughout the year.
Receive a bull sale catalog by visiting the center's website at www.livestockevaluationcenter.com or by calling 814-238-2527.