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Proven genetic performance and efficiency emphasized by Midland Bull Test

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Columbus, Mont. – The Midland Bull Test draws approximately 1,100 purebred bulls from over 200 consignors across 32 states with the goal to measure the genetic performance potential of individual bulls and sire groups.  

The Midland Bull Test was started in 1962 by Leo McDonnell Sr., and featured a small group of bulls from purebred breeders. Here, the concept of weighing and measuring cattle, and publishing the resulting data on birthweights, weaning weights, gainability, maternal production and yearling weights was born.  

The McDonnell and Williams families note, “Our emphasis continues to be on balanced performance – from sensible birthweights, to early maturity, to functional traits, to economical weights, to compatible carcass merits, to a phenotype which enhances these economical traits.” 

“Proven through competition, Midland bulls are unsurpassed in providing more trait leaders in the major breeds than any other breeder, test station or the combined effort of the major stock shows,” both families add.  

They continue, “Midland Bull Test consignors reap the benefits of total performance bull development. Our facilities and program are designed and built to emphasize the development of calves into sound, functional bulls ready to go to work.”  

The Midland program 

Bulls are measured for balanced performance traits throughout the Midland Bull Test. Performance traits include average daily gain (ADG) and weight per day of age (WDA), as well as a 365-day weight.  

“Midland is the only major performance program to feed a low-energy ration,” share the McDonnell and Williams families. “These bulls are developed on a high-roughage ration to remain compatible with our rangeland pastures. We care if the bulls are going to hold up, regardless of where they go.” 

Additionally, Midland focuses on efficiency. Each animal is individually tested for residual feed intake (RFI) and multiple parties monitor data.  

 “Fertility is the cornerstone of any program and it is stressed at Midland through scrotal circumference measurements and semen evaluation,” the families explain. “Our average nursing ratio at Midland is 106 – proof of top weaning bull calves from their respective herds.” 

Finally, each bull is ultra sounded to evaluate ribeye area, backfat thickness and marbling to measure carcass traits.  

“This year’s economic impact of uncertain tomorrows is evidence of the impact of Midland’s mission, which strives to provide more than just data for our customers,” states Steve Williams.  

Efficiency testing 

The Midland Bull Test is home to the largest feed efficiency testing program in North America.   

“The Midland Bull Test Efficiency Test is a 49-day test done within the 120-day testing period for bulls,” they explain. “All bulls on test at Midland are efficiency tested.” 

The test focuses on RFI and feed efficiency EPDs to capture test bulls’ genetic ability to gain more weight while consuming less feed. This is especially important for those producers looking to add genetics to their herd with the capacity to gain quickly and economically.  

RFI, as explained by the Midland Bull Test, is the direct correlation between intake and gain, taking into consideration the size of cattle to create a level playing field between bulls on test.  

Additionally, the Midland Bull Test creates the MBT Index to objectively sort bulls based on ADG, nursing ratio, yearling ratio and the efficiency ratio, optimizing the balance between performance and efficiency.  

“Midland Bull Test offers commercial cattlemen and seedstock producers a unique opportunity to select top-end bulls based off objective, economical data,” Williams and McDonnell add. “Midland has the success of the commercial cattleman at the forefront when developing the sifting criteria utilized to make the Final Sort of the Bulls Sale.” 

The sale 

This year, Midland Bull Test has over 650 top-end bulls featured in the Final Sort Sale held in Columbus, Mont. April 1-2. Only the top 70 to 80 percent of the bulls on test will be sold.  

“Buyers would have to go to a dozen bull sales or more to find as many top bulls from top producing cows as they will see at Midland in one day,” note the McDonnell and Williams families. “One of the nicest compliments we receive each year from the buyers at Midland is, ‘Buyers can purchase high-quality bulls all the way through the sale.’”  

Salers, Simmental, Gelbvieh, Charolais, South Devon, Hereford and Red Angus bulls will be sold on April 1. Angus bulls will sell April 2.  

Sale day 

Performance awards will be presented prior to the sale on April 1-2, starting at 11 a.m. each day. The sale order is determined by the Midland Bull Test Index, and sale order will be posted prior to the event.  

A sale catalog is available at  On sale day, more information is available online or by calling 406-322-5597, 406-322-9911 or 406-322-9044. 

Each animal will be sold to the highest bidder with the auctioneer settling any differences. Cattle will sell according to health regulations of the state of Montana, and interstate health certificates will be provided for transport.  

Registration papers for all registered bulls in the sale will be transferred to their new owner at the seller’s expense.  

Cattle will be delivered to central locations in the lower 48 states. More information on delivery is available in the Midland Bull Test Final Sort Sale catalog.  

The auction will be broadcast live online through CCi Live at Buyers unable to attend the sale may bid online or use telephone bid lines at 406-322-9911. All buyers must register prior to the sale, and new buyers must provide bank references.  

Joe Goggins, Greg Goggins and Roger Jacobs will serve as auctioneers for the sale. Additionally, breed field representatives and livestock publication representatives will be available.  

“Producers can shop with confidence at Midland because bulls that make the Final Sort Sale have cleared complex and in-depth parameters including more than just data to be a part of the sale,” comments Williams. “We are pleased to offer a very strong set of bulls available for viewing and assessment.” 

For more information, visit  

Averi Haleseditor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, compiled this information from the Midland Bull Test reports and catalog, as well as from their website. Send comments on this article to 

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