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University of Wyoming to host High Altitude Bull Test Field Day

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Bull sale season is in full swing across the region. This is an exciting time for producers to think about what genetics they will be bringing into their herd this year. 

It is also an opportunity to evaluate the genetic and marketing goals of an operation. These goals can help identify traits which are economically relevant to the operation and assist in the decision-making process.

For many producers across Wyoming and the Mountain West, brisket disease and successfully managing cattle at high altitudes above 5,000 feet are significant considerations when making sire selection decisions.

Cattle grazing at higher altitudes, where oxygen levels are decreased, are at an increased risk of developing brisket disease, resulting in decreased performance and increased morbidity and mortality.

Brisket disease is complex, with breed, body condition, genetics, altitude and numerous other factors contributing to the variability in disease presentation.

High-risk cattle are more susceptible to developing right heart failure secondary to pulmonary hypertension, a condition commonly referred to as brisket disease, high altitude disease or high mountain disease. 

Selecting cattle suited to their production environment and adapted to perform at higher altitudes is an important consideration for producers grazing and managing cattle at higher altitudes.

High Altitude Bull Test and Sale

Last fall, the University of Wyoming (UW) Department of Animal Science and Laramie Research and Extension Center (LREC) launched a high altitude bull test and sale. 

The goal of the bull test and sale is to evaluate potential sires on their ability to serve producers at high altitudes, increase applied production agriculture experience available for students and engage producers in research and education related to brisket disease and bull development.

Nine producers consigned a total of 41 bulls into the inaugural UW High Altitude Bull Test which launched in January 2023. 

Bulls entered in the test are currently being managed at LREC, located at an altitude of more than 7,000 feet and were assessed for their risk of brisket disease and suitability to serve producers at higher altitudes. 

The bulls have undergone carcass ultrasounding to evaluate ribeye area, fat thickness and intramuscular fat, as well as a complete breeding soundness exam.

In addition, bulls will undergo pulmonary arterial pressure (PAP) testing in late March to assess the risk of pulmonary hypertension. 

Data collected on the bulls will provide producers with additional information to utilize when making sire selection decisions.

An important aspect of the bull test and sale was the development of educational opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students in the UW College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources. 

The high altitude bull test course is comprised of a combination of weekly lectures covering material related to bull selection and development, as well as hands-on learning opportunities. 

Students enrolled in the bull test course have assisted with the day-to-day management of bulls, carcass ultrasounding, fertility testing, picturing and development of marketing materials. These opportunities have allowed students to gain valuable experience in animal health, nutrition and reproduction. 

Field day and private treaty sale

The UW High Altitude Bull Test culminates in an educational field day and private treaty sale on April 1 at the Hansen Teaching Arena at LREC. The field day is aimed at providing producers with new educational opportunities to learn about brisket disease and connect with faculty and students from the university. 

The educational program will begin at 10 a.m. with a presentation from Landon Eldridge, UW Livestock Judging Team coach, on bull selection and evaluation. The program will continue with presentations on PAP testing and understanding bovine pulmonary hypertension from Chase Markel, UW animal science graduate student and Mark Enns, professor at Colorado State University. 

Faculty, staff and students involved in the UW High Altitude Bull Test will also share an overview of the results from this year’s test, as well as future directions for the program.

Lunch will be provided for attendees, during which time there will be a poster session highlighting current beef cattle research being conducted at UW. 

Twenty of the bulls consigned to the High Altitude Bull Test will be available for private treaty during the field day. Bulls will be available to view throughout the day, with the private treaty sale starting after lunch at 1:30 p.m. 

Angus, Red Angus, Simmental and SimAngus bulls will be available, with expected progeny differences (EPDs), PAP scores and carcass evaluation data available for all bulls. 

Additional information about the UW High Altitude Bull Test and Sale can be found on the LREC website or the UW Beef Extension social media pages. 

A sale catalog with information about the bulls available, the consignors, the private treaty sale and the field day will be available on the LREC website in coming weeks.

Faculty, staff and students involved in the bull test appreciate the support of the program and hope producers will come learn about the program, purchase bulls and enjoy the field day. 

For additional information on the High Altitude Bull Test and Sale, contact Shelby Rosasco at 307-766-2329 or Scott Lake at 307-766-3665.

Shelby Rosasco is the University of Wyoming (UW) Extension beef specialist and an assistant professor in the UW Department of Animal Science. She can be reached at or 307-766-2329.

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