Bull Buyers Guide

Bull Buyers Guide
Travis Meteer, Extension Beef Cattle Educator - University of Illinois
blog post source


It’s that time of year when farmers and ranchers buy bulls for their herds. They’re likely sifting through stacks of bull sale catalogs. Todd Gleason has some advice on evaluating a sire’s potential.

The first item on University of Illinois Extension Beef Cattle… 3:11 radio
3:22 radio self contained

The first item on University of Illinois Extension Beef Cattle Educator Travis Meteer’s list for buying a bull doesn’t have anything to do with the bull. He says the farmer, the rancher, first needs to know their market. They must understand what traits are value added-traits for the market they’re selling into, local freezer beef, retained ownership, alliances, branded beef programs, video sales, or fitting the production environment to a consumer demanded practice are all ways farmers are adding value to their calves. Meteer says bull selection should be based on traits that are profitable in the market, with the caveat that the traits don’t sacrifice function for form.

Meteer :43 …and have some kind of longevity to them.

Quote Summary - That’s right. Cattle still have to go out and breed and eat and live. The traits that are associated with those cattle that have to function every day, to travel long distances, perform natural mating, maintain weight on adequate feed resources, and grass and forage. Those things are first and foremost even though we may be selecting for cattle that do fit a certain market, or have a certain we are trying emphasize in the end product. We still must have cattle that can reproduce, make more cattle, and have some kind of longevity to them.

Meteer says a BSE (Breeding Soundness Exam) should be required for any bull purchased. And that it is important to quarantine the new animal for a minimum of two weeks. This should allow time for potential pathagens to break without exposing the rest of the herd. Lots of times cattle coming from a sale have experienced elevated stress. He says it is important to keep them on good feed, in a clean pen, and allow the quarantine period to run its course. Meteer also thinks it is important to use EPD’s, Expected Progeny Differences, to evaluate bulls.

Meteer :30 …move a herd forward in those profitable trait areas.

Quote Summary - That’s a collection of data that back’s up the bull. It states how the bull should produce in terms of numbers and data. A lot of times producers can get caught up in this data and forget the first two or three things we’ve talked about, but it is still important to make genetic progress. You must look at the data to find the numbers supporting the bull and how he can move a herd forward in those profitable trait areas.

To that end, Meteer says a producer should identify and understand Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) and phenotypes that signify the value added traits they’re seeking. For instance, Calving ease (CE) is an important and valuable trait. Sometimes producers stress CE and birth weight (BW). BW is an indicator trait for CE, but Meteer says you don’t get paid for light birth weight calves. You do get paid by not having to invest time and labor in pulling calves.

Those wanting to learn more from Travis Meteer’s Bull Buyers Guide can find it online. Search Google for “Bull Buyers Guide” comma University of Illinois Extension".