The 2014–2015 Florida Bull Test concluded with the evaluation of 103 bulls. The test assessed the performance potential and breeding soundness of bulls consigned to the program at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC). For the fourth year, the test provided data on individual feed efficiency for each bull. At the conclusion of the test, bulls meeting the requirements of the annual Bull Test Sale became available for purchase. Sale qualifications included adequate feed and growth performance in the test as well as appropriate structural soundness and disposition. Sale bulls were also required to pass a breeding soundness exam in order to qualify for the auction. Actual performance data obtained from the test, expected progeny differences (EPDs), and carcass ultrasound data were made available to both consignors and potential buyers as a means of assessing the sale bulls' performance.
The 112-day test began on July 29, 2014, with bulls being sorted into contemporary groups based on consignor and breed (8 to 12 bulls per pen). Bulls were then housed in the NFREC Feed Efficiency Facility where they received free-choice access to a total mixed ration and water to achieve a target rate of gain of 3.5 lb per day. The diet consisted of 42% pelleted soy hulls, 41% pelleted corn gluten feed, 12% loose peanut hulls, and 5% molasses liquid supplement containing vitamins, minerals, and ionophore (monensin) on a dry matter (DM) basis. The diet was formulated to contain 16.3% crude protein and 0.51 Mcal/lb of DM net energy of gain (NEg).
After a three-week adaptation period, bulls were weighed on two consecutive days to obtain an accurate average unshrunk weight, which was used as the on-test starting weight. Throughout the test, bulls were inspected daily for any health problems. After 28 days, an intermediate unshrunk weight was obtained. Bulls were then weighed on two consecutive days. The mean of these two weights was used for an accurate 56-day weight, and the feed efficiency portion of the test was concluded. On the same day, bulls were removed from the feed efficiency facility and housed in 3.25-acre pastures where they stayed for the remainder of the test. While pasture grazing, bulls remained in the contemporary groups assigned in the feed efficiency facility pens. In addition to grazing and free-choice bermudagrass hay, bulls were offered free-choice access to the same total mixed ration which was provided in the efficiency facility. On day 84 of the test, an additional intermediate unshrunk weight was obtained. After 112 days on feed, bulls were weighed on two consecutive days to determine the final test weight. Average daily gain (ADG) was determined by calculation using only the starting and finishing test weights. At the conclusion of the test, bulls were made available for purchase through the annual UF Bull Test Sale. Bulls were screened for structural soundness and disposition, and monitored throughout the test for overall health. Any bull deemed structurally unsound with poor conformation or chronic lameness or with poor disposition was disqualified from the sale.
For the first time, the Florida Bull Test offered remote bidding through a verified online bidding company. This service allowed consignors to market their bulls to potential buyers who were unable to attend the sale in person. Additionally, a video clip of each bull was made available online for those who were not able to visit the NFREC facility before the sale. On the day of the sale, 8 of the 12 registered bidders actively participated in the live auction.
Assessment of Feed Efficiency
Bulls were tagged upon arrival at the feed efficiency facility with electronic identification (EID) tags to monitor daily feed intake using the GrowSafe system. Their ADG was calculated for the 56-day feed efficiency portion of the test. Residual feed intake (RFI), calculated as the difference between actual feed intake and expected feed intake (Maddock and Lamb 2009), was the selected measure of feed efficiency used to rank the bulls in the test.
Test Rules and Regulations
General Policies and Procedures
Bulls must have been born between August 15 and December 31, 2013.
All consignors' herds must have been enrolled in their respective breed association performance program. State BCIA programs were accepted for herds whose breed association did not have a performance record program.
Bulls must have completed the weaning phase of the performance record program with their contemporary group, and this information must have been presented at time of delivery. If data had not yet been returned from the consignors' respective association, a copy of the weight data with the number of contemporaries was requested.
Bulls could either be purebred or fullblood, but must have been registered with a breed association. Composite bulls must have had both sire and dam registered in an acknowledged beef breed association. A registration certificate and pedigree were required at time of bull delivery to the test station. Otherwise, bulls were not accepted.
Each bull was required to weigh 2.5 lb per day of age when delivered to the test station. A transit shrink of 1% per hour of transit time was allowed.
Bulls must be have been weaned a minimum of three weeks prior to delivery at the test site.
Bulls were required to be structurally sound and show evidence of good growth potential.
Birth weights of bulls were required at delivery.
Consignments were limited to 10 head per owner or operation. Additional consignments would have been considered on the basis of space availability.
There was a limit of 100 bulls for the test. More than 100 bulls were nominated to the Florida Bull Test. As result, the following selection criteria were used to determine which bulls were accepted:
Groups of bulls from the same sire were given preference because of the benefit of sire-group testing rather than individual testing.
Preference was given to breeders or consignors who maintained their Florida Cattlemen's Association membership.
Bulls were accepted based on the order in which nominations were received.
Bulls originating from embryo transfer must have been designated as such, and the breed of the recipient cow must have been identified.
Bulls must have had legible and permanent identification (tattoo or brand) corresponding to the registration paper at delivery.
Consignors were informed that horned bulls may be grouped separately. Additionally, it was recommended that bulls be dehorned and healed by time of delivery.
All bulls were required to be in good health. They needed to be accompanied by a health certificate bearing the herd number that showed they were from a certified brucellosis-free state or herd or have a negative test for brucellosis no more than 30 days before delivery. Bulls originating from a state that is not tuberculosis (TB)-free were required to be accompanied by a health certificate showing they were from a certified TB- free herd or have a negative test result for TB no more than 30 days prior to time of delivery.
Bulls must have been vaccinated twice with a period of at least 21 days between vaccinations for the following: 5-way leptospirosis, 7- or 8-way clostridium with Haemophilus somnus, and IBR/PI3/BVD/BRSV, with the last vaccination occurring at least three weeks prior to delivery. Vaccination for Pasteurella was optional. The use of intranasal vaccination against IBR/PI3 was recommended.
Consignors were responsible for all examination and treatment costs if veterinarian attention was required.
Consignors were encouraged to contact their local or state veterinarian for interstate permit and health requirements. An official certificate of veterinary inspection (health paper) was required for each bull.
At the conclusion of the test, an overall ranking assessing the parameters of ADG and the weight per day of age (WDA) of each bull was compiled, and an index ratio was generated. The top performing bull of the test as well as top performing SimAngus bull indexed 129 with an ADG of 4.13 and WDA of 4.04 lb/day, and belonged to J & W Simmentals of Headland, AL. The top Angus bull, Gray's Impression 6262 301, owned by Grayhaven Farms of Monticello, FL was ranked 2nd overall and indexed 122 with an ADG of 4.46 and WDA of 3.23 lb/day. The top Charolais bull owned by Rogers Bar HR was ranked 3rd overall and indexed 120 with an ADG of 4.59 and WDA of 2.96 lb/day.
The top Simmental bull, A-7, owned by R & K Farm of Elba, AL was ranked 9th overall and indexed 114 with an ADG of 4.37 and WDA of 2.80 lb/day. The top Hereford bull, JTN Revolution 911Y A19, owned by J Taylor Neighbors of Americus, GA was ranked 11th overall and indexed 113 with an ADG of 3.78 and WDA of 3.34 lb/day. The top Braford bull, 4056, owned by Running M Farm of Tallahassee, FL was ranked 38th overall and indexed 103 with an ADG of 3.44 and WDA of 3.06 lb/day. The top Brahman bull, 409, owned by Ford Farms of Malone, FL was ranked 62nd overall and indexed 98 with an ADG of 3.46 and WDA of 2.69 lb/day. Table 1 summarizes the overall feed efficiency of all bulls enrolled in the test, while Table 2 summarizes individual feed intake and feed efficiency of each bull. Table 3 summarizes individual animal growth performance.
The Florida Bull Test Sale was held on January 17, 2015. The test began with 103 bulls. 56 head among these were offered for sale at the annual bull test held at the NFREC in Marianna, FL. The sale grossed $256,800 with an average of $4,585 per bull lot. Angus bulls averaged $4,514 on 27 lots, SimAngus bulls averaged $4,878 on 14 lots, and Simmental bulls averaged $4,338 on 13 lots. Hereford bulls averaged $5,100 on two lots. The highest-selling bull was lot 1, J & W Cruising, selling for $6,500. J & W Cruising was consigned by J & W Simmentals of Headland, AL and purchased by Phil Farris of Elba, AL.
Maddock, T. D., D. D. Henry, and G. C. Lamb. 2015. The Economic Impact of Feed Efficiency in Beef Cattle. AN217. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/an217
Summary of feed efficiency data for all bulls enrolled in the 2014–2015 Florida Bull Test.
Individual feed efficiency and feed intake data of bulls enrolled in the 2014–2015 Florida Bull Test.
Growth performance of bulls enrolled in the 2014–2015 Florida Bull Test.