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Midland Bull Test remains the granddaddy of performance testing

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Midland Bull Test, located in Columbus, Mont., is home to the largest feed efficiency testing program in North America, offering producers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to develop and market high-quality, “total performance” seedstock. 

At Midland, nearly 1,100 purebred bulls from over 200 consignors representing more than 32 states, are tested each year in the fall during a 112-day performance test. 

The test collects data on average daily gain, weight per day of age, ultrasound, feed efficiency and breeding soundness, and the top 80 percent of bulls are sold in the Final Sort Sale April 4-5. 

“Midland Bull Test consistently tops sales across the U.S. and boasts a large number of repeat sale buyers who assert loyalty to proven results year after year,” reads the website.

“Midland Bull Test consignors 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 them walk the walk,” it continues. “Our facilities and program are designed and built to emphasize the development of calves into sound, functional bulls, ready to go to work.” 

History of the test

Midland Bull Test was started in 1962 by Leo McDonnell, Sr. and a small group of purebred breeders. 

According to the website, the concept of weighing and measuring cattle, then publishing the data was not met favorably by most of the purebred industry. 

“However, under this constant pressure from the 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 cow herd,” the website reads. 

Current operations

Today, Midland Bull Test is one of the most trusted testing programs in the nation and a quality source of seedstock for cattle producers. 

The test continues to place an emphasis on balanced performance and collect data with the utmost attention and care. 

Over the last few decades, Midland has collected as much – if not more – ultrasound data than any other location in the country, according to the website. Ultrasound data is collected in accordance with guidelines developed by the Ultrasound Governance Committee, which oversees ultrasound matters for the U.S. Beef Breeds Council. 

Ultrasound images are submitted to UltraInsights, a centralized ultrasound processing lab, and data is submitted for all bulls enrolled in their respective breed association’s performance program.

Additionally, Midland Bull Test gathers efficiency data using a GrowSafe System known as Vytelle, which measures the feed efficiency of each individual bull. 

An electronic identification tag tracks feed consumption, which is used to calculate residual feed intake – a correlation of the pounds of gain to pounds of intake, and therefore, the increment cost of gain.

Bulls at Midland are also required to pass a thorough breeding soundness exam, including extension, motility and morphology.

“Such a special bull comes out of Midland Bull Test because of all of the selection pressure,” shares Leo McDonnell, Jr. in an AngusTV YouTube video celebrating Midland’s 50th anniversary. “There is nowhere else in the world where producers can find bulls through such a strict criteria process.” 

Sale day 

This year, the Midland Bull Test Final Sort Sale will offer over 500 top-end, high-quality bulls in Columbus, Mont. on April 4-5.

Charolais, Hereford, Red Angus, Salers, Simmental and South Devon bulls will be sold on April 4 at 1 p.m., while Angus bulls will sell on April 5 at 11 a.m. 

Performance award presentations will be held prior to the sale of each breed. 

The sale order is determined by the Midland Bull Test Index and estimated sale value, and sale order will be available online on sale day. 

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. A transferred certificate of registry will be furnished to the buyer for each animal after settlement has been made. 

Bulls sold into states requiring trichomoniasis testing will be tested after the sale, and trucking arrangements will be made in short order. 

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

The sale will be broadcast live at Buyers may bid online or use telephone bid lines at 406-322-9911 or 406-322-9044. All buyers must register prior to the sale, and new buyers must provide bank references. 

Joe and Greg Goggins will serve as auctioneers for the sale. Breed field representatives and livestock publication representatives will be available. 

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

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article  to

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