The granddaddy of performance testing: Midland Bull Test boasts the largest feed efficiency testing program in North America, consistently tops sales in the U.S.
Every year, nearly 1,100 purebred bulls from over 145 consigners across 24 states are consigned in the fall to Midland Bull Test – a 120-day performance test measuring average daily gain (ADG), weight per day of age, ultrasound, feed efficiency and breeding soundness. The top 80 percent of bulls in the program are then sold in the Final Sort Sale in April.
Today, the Midland Bull Test, located in Columbus, Mont., is home to the largest feed efficiency testing program in North America, consistently tops sales across the U.S. and boasts a large number of loyal repeat buyers.
“The greatest opportunity ranchers have is the ability to maximize profits found in incremental efficiency gains as cattle convert roughage to pounds on the scale, but without measuring efficiency, one is only guessing,” reads Midland Bull Test’s website. “Midland Bull Test uses the GrowSafe System to simultaneously measure feed efficiency while capturing all other data.”
Emphasis on balanced performance
“The goal of Midland Bull Test is to identify individual bulls excelling across a number of traits, which have a lasting economic impact for the commercial cattleman,” explains Steve Williams, owner and operator of Midland Bull Test.
According to the website, the program also places an emphasis on balanced performance, which includes sensible birthweights, early maturity, functional maternal traits, economical weights, compatible carcass merits and a phenotype which enhances all economic traits.
“Considering yearling bulls bought in the spring won’t sire a weaned calf until the next fall and daughters of these bulls won’t go into production for two years, it is no light matter,” reads the website. “There is no other sale offering buyers as strong an offering as the composite maternal growth bulls at Midland Bull Test.”
Williams notes Midland Bull Test offers a wide array of advantages for producers who take advantage of the program.
“Producers are able to learn more about how their herd measures up in terms of performance and efficiency,” he says. “They are also able to use this as a marketing tool for their own herd. Producers who do not have the herd size to host a production sale can also utilize Midland Bull Test to provide services. Some folks continue to test bulls here even after they get to the point where they have their own production sale.”
The website also states, “Midland Bull Test consigners reap the benefits of total performance bull development. There is no such thing as a gain race here at Midland. We set the bulls up on a level playing field and let the bulls walk the walk. Our facilities and program are designed and built to emphasize the development of calves into sound, functional bulls that are ready to go to work.”
Although Midland Bull Test is one of the most well-renowned sales in the U.S. today, the program wasn’t always so popular.
In fact, according to the website, when Midland Bull Test was started in 1962 by Leo McDonnell and a small group of purebred breeders, the concept of weighing and measuring cattle and publishing the resulting data as far as birthweights, weaning weights, gainability, dam’s production and yearling weights was not met favorably by most of the national purebred industry.
“However, under this constant pressure from opponents of performance, Midland Bull Test, the Montana Beef Performance Association and several staunch seedstock producers continued to define, refine and promote performance as a primary tool in managing the profitability of a cowherd,” reads the website.
“Those who have stayed with those initial concepts and philosophies have gone on to be national and international sources of breeding stock,” the website continues. “We’re proud to be one of those who didn’t compromise our beliefs system.”
2021 Midland Bull Test
Currently, according to Williams, the team at Midland Bull Test is in the process of getting out the intermediate report, which will be followed by determining class splits – white tag versus green tag – for Angus and ultrasounding the older bulls.
“Weigh group one will go off the test in February, and group two is currently on the GrowSafe efficiency trial,” Williams explains. “In early February, group two will get a 90-day weight measure and then come off the test in March.”
He continues, “After each group comes off trial, they are bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) tested, clipped and videoed. We also make the final cuts based on ADG ratio and ADG 365 day ratio, in addition to disposition, structure and feet screenings.”
This year, the sale at Midland Bull Test will take place April 1-2. Salers, Simmental, Gelbvieh, Charolais, South Devon, Hereford and Red Angus bulls will be sold Thursday, April 1, while Angus bulls will sell on Friday, April 2.
Williams says all bulls selling April 1 will be available for viewing in sale pens the day before – Wednesday, March 31.
“During the first day of the sale, Angus bulls will be yarded in sale pens for viewing,” says Williams. “Bulls are also available for viewing anytime at Midland.”
“The evening before each sale, we will host a steak fry with entertainment,” he adds. “This is a great time to socialize and visit with fellow consignors and buyers.”
For more information, visit midlandbulltest.com.
Hannah Bugas is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.