WBCIA Bull Test continues to make changes, improve through latest technology
Shoshoni – The Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association (WBCIA) Bull Test Sale will once again be held at Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Center in Shoshoni.
After feeding the set of bulls since mid-October 2013, Bob Pingetzer says, “Gain has been down in the Test this year, but the health of the cattle has been much better than normal.”
Pingetzer is owner of Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Center, where the WBCIA Bull Test and Sale are held.
This year at the WBCIA Bull Test, Pingetzer comments that their changed cattle ration improved animal health.
“Instead of grinding hay, we moved to a cutter baler, allowing us to mix the hay more like a vertical mixer cuts it,” he explains. “The nutritionists have said that gain will be off, but it will improve our health.”
They saw positive results, with improved cattle health.
“Gain has been off a bit, but we also did not feed quite as hot a ration this year,” Pingetzer says. “We fed for 3.1 pounds of gain instead of 3.25 pounds.”
In looking at the requirements to qualify for the sale, Pingetzer says they have changed the calving ease criteria.
“We use less than 85 pound birth weights, and we use the top 40 percent of the breed for calving ease on their birth weight EPD,” he explains. “For instance, the Black Angus have to have a 1.5 birth weight EPD or less.”
They have also introduced the use of Calving Ease Direct EPD.
“Calving Ease Direct is a newer EPD, but people are starting to look at it more and more,” he says. “The bulls have to have a seven or greater Calving Ease Direct EPD.”
As new EPDs emerge and technology becomes available, Pingetzer notes they may continue to add criteria based on the latest information.
“There is a lot more opportunity to do DNA work now,” he comments. “We don’t require DNA yet, but I think in the future, we are going to see DNA replacing some of these other criteria we have now.”
With improvements in accuracy and the technology, Pingetzer says results will continue to improve.
“They are working on being more accurate with the 50K DNA test,” Pingetzer notes. “When they get there, I think there may be some other things eliminated.”
The WBCIA Board also continues to discuss how to further improve the test even more, utilizing a variety of technologies.
“We are discussing doing more with the University of Wyoming and possibly sending a portion of the bulls to a GrowSafe system,” says Pingetzer. “We aren’t sure if it would work or if it is feasible.”
“GrowSafe systems are more and more popular,” he notes.
However, Pingetzer also sees that GrowSafe systems aren’t perfect, either.
“I think the GrowSafe system favors a certain type of cattle,” Pingetzer says. “Not all of the best-efficiency cattle come out because of competition at the feed bunk.”
The more timid, less dominant bulls tend to be out-competed at the feed bunk, meaning they can be missed in efficiency rankings.
“When we are looking at cattle from small producers who only own a small number of cattle, the bulls aren’t as aggressive in the feed bunks, so they don’t perform as well,” Pingetzer says. “GrowSafe misses those efficient, but timid, cattle.”
In WBCIA’s Bull Test, cattle from Six Iron Ranch in Shoshoni took the top spots in both Red and Black Angus cattle.
Pingetzer comments that they have great cattle involved in the sale from a variety of consigners, and top quality bulls can be seen throughout the sale.
“When I look at the numbers, if a calf has one bad day, he can shift four or five places in the standings,” Pingetzer explains. “However, calves can’t have a bad day and sit in the top place. There are calves that may be 10th in the Test that are still good calves that had one bad day.”
Benefits to producers
Testing bulls at a test facility is beneficial to producers, adds Pingetzer.
“The biggest benefit to testing is that it lets a producer know how their cattle compare to other cattle in the same situation,” he says. “Producers know what their calves perform like in their environment, but they don’t know how they perform compared to other people.”
With differences in environmental conditions, Pingetzer says bull tests allow producers to pit their animals against one another on a level playing field.
“If producers think they have performance, this is one way of finding out if they really do,” he comments.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wyoming Beef Cattle Improvement Association Bull Test Sale will be held on April 5 at 1 p.m. at Pingetzer’s Bull and Heifer Development Center in Shoshoni.
The auction will sell 105 bulls, including 75 Black Angus and 30 Red Angus.
In addition to the live auction, DVAuction will hold an online auction at dvauction.com. Visit their website for more information and to register to bid.