With bull sale season upon us, Nobel Foundation livestock specialist Evan Whitley reminds producers to invest some time to assure the bulls they purchase are right for their operations. He offers the following suggestions.

  • Develop a set of goals and objectives. Ask yourself the hard questions about what you need and expect from a bull.
  • Develop a relationship with a reputable source of genetics. There are lots of quality seedstock producers out there who are willing to work with you if you put forth a little effort. Most of them don’t mind spending a little time on the phone talking about their breeding and management programs, and answering questions you might have.
  • Familiarize yourself with the breed of choice. Assuming you have chosen a breed to complement the objectives outlined in the first rule, educate yourself to choose an individual within this breed. Study sire summaries, expected progeny differences and accuracies. Use the percentile breakdown table to identify acceptable EPD thresholds for the traits most important to you, and apply these values at the individual level.
  • Don’t forget about performance information. Most sale catalogs will contain at least a minimal amount of individual performance data. Use this information in conjunction with EPDs.
  • Narrow your list to a manageable level. It’s extremely important to go to a sale with a condensed list of bulls that meet your criteria. Do not to get caught on the day of the sale asking yourself, “Will this bull work?”
  • Establish a price, but be reasonable. You can afford to pay more for an individual you know something about compared to one about which you know nothing. Stick with your established price. If you can’t get anything bought, there will be other bulls and other sales.

If you have done your homework, Whitley says, the sale-day agenda becomes a simple task of visually verifying a proper decision. This verification depends on reproductive and structural soundness, and disposition.