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The Florida Bull Test 2016–20171

Luara B. Canal, G. Cliff Lamb, and Nicolas DiLorenzo 2

Test Procedures

The 17th annual Florida Bull Test Sale was held on January 21, 2017 at the conclusion of the 2016–2017 Florida Bull Test. The test evaluated the performance potential and breeding soundness of bulls consigned to the program at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC). In an ongoing effort to better serve consignors and bull buyers, the 2016–2017 test provided data on individual feed efficiency for each bull, making this the sixth year that this information has been included. After the test, consignors with bulls that met the established benchmarks of the test were then given the opportunity to sell their consignments in the Florida Bull Test Sale. In order to qualify, bulls needed to meet growth performance, structural soundness, and disposition standards. Sale bulls also must have successfully passed a breeding soundness exam to qualify for the auction. Potential buyers and consignors were able to fully evaluate the animals on all parameters including actual performance data, expected progeny differences (EPDs), and carcass ultrasound data.

The 112-day test began on August 17, 2016, 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 4.16 lb per day. On a dry matter (DM) basis, the diet consisted of 42% pelleted soy hulls, 41% pelleted corn gluten feed, 12% loose peanut hulls, and 5% molasses-based liquid supplement containing vitamins, minerals, and ionophore (monensin). 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 potential health problems. An intermediate unshrunk weight was obtained after 28 days. Bulls were then weighed on two consecutive days for an accurate 56-day weight, completing the feed efficiency portion of the test. On the same day, bulls were removed from the feed efficiency facility and then 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 feed efficiency facility. On day 84 of the test, an additional intermediate unshrunk weight was obtained. At the conclusion of the 112-day feeding period, bulls were weighed again on two consecutive days, December 7 and 8, to determine their final test weights. Animal performance by average daily gain (ADG) was assessed through calculation using only the starting and finishing test weights. Bulls were monitored throughout the test for overall health and were also observed and screened for structural soundness and disposition. Any bull deemed structurally unsound with poor conformation or chronic lameness or with poor disposition was disqualified from the sale.

For the third year, the Florida Bull Test offered remote bidding for the sale of bulls 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 as a means of visual evaluation for those who could not visit the NFREC facility before the sale. On the day of the sale, 11 of the 34 registered bidders actively participated in the live auction.

Assessment of Feed Efficiency

Upon arrival at the feed efficiency facility, bulls were tagged with electronic identification (EID) tags to monitor daily feed intake using the GrowSafe system. Average daily gain (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, was the measure of feed efficiency used to rank the bulls in the test. Daily feed intake was measured for each bull, and RFI was calculated as described by Maddock and Lamb (2009).

Test Rules and Regulations

General Policies and Procedures

  1. Bulls must have been born between August 15 and December 31, 2016.

  2. 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.

  3. Bulls must have completed the weaning phase of the performance record program with their contemporary group, and this information must have been presented upon delivery. If data had not yet been returned from the consignor's respective association, a copy of the weight data with the number of contemporaries was requested.

  4. Bulls could either be purebred or fullblood, but they must have been registered with their 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Bulls must have been weaned a minimum of three weeks prior to delivery.

  7. Bulls were required to be structurally sound and show evidence of good growth potential.

  8. Birth weights of bulls were required at time of delivery.

  9. Consignments were limited to ten bulls per owner or operation. Additional consignments would have been considered on the basis of space availability.

  10. There was a limit of 132 bulls for the Florida Bull Test. More than 132 bulls were nominated. As a result, the following selection criteria were used to determine which bulls were accepted:

    • First preference was given to breeders or consignors who were members of the Florida Cattlemen's Association.

    • Secondly, bulls were accepted based on the order in which nominations were received.

  11. Bulls originating from embryo transfer must have been designated as such, and the breed of the recipient cow must have been identified.

  12. Bulls must have had legible and permanent identification (tattoo or brand) corresponding to the registration paper at delivery.

  13. Consignors were informed that horned bulls may be grouped separately. Additionally, it was recommended that bulls be dehorned and healed by time of delivery.

Health Requirements

  1. All bulls were required to be in good health. They needed to be accompanied by a health certificate bearing the herd number that indicated they were from an accredited or 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 had a negative test result for TB no more than 30 days prior to time of delivery.

  2. Bulls must have been vaccinated twice with 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.

  3. Consignors were responsible for all examination and treatment costs if veterinary attention was required.

  4. 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.

Test Results

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 and top SimAngus, WF Hercules, was owned by Wells Farm, AL, indexing 133 with an ADG of 4.80 and WDA of 3.59 lb/day. The top Charolais bull, HBR Auto Pilot 477 P, was owned by Rogers Bar HR, MS, ranking 2nd overall and indexing 126 with an ADG of 4.49 and WDA of 3.49 lb/day.

The top Simmental bull, WF Hurricaine, was owned by Wells Farm in Selma, AL. It ranked 5th overall, indexing 122 with an ADG of 4.41 and WDA of 3.30 lb/day. The top Angus bull, LHH Safeguard 021 Z206 C15, owned by Hubert Hightower of Monticello, FL, was ranked 19th overall and indexed 113 with an ADG of 3.53 and WDA of 3.61 lb/day. The top Hereford bull, HRF 20X Copy That G145, was owned by Hickory Ridge Farm in Chipley, FL, and ranked 42nd overall, indexing 106 with an ADG of 3.90 and WDA of 2.77 lb/day.

The top Brahman bull, FF Mr Gibson 613, owned by Ford Farms of Malone, FL, was ranked 97th overall and indexed 92 with an ADG of 3.00 and WDA of 2.81 lb/day. Table 1 summarizes feed efficiency data, and Table 2 summarizes individual feed intake and feed efficiency. Table 3 summarizes individual animal performance.

Sale Summary

The Florida Bull Test Sale was held at the NFREC Beef Unit in Marianna, FL. Eighty-three head of the 129 qualified bulls walked through the sale ring for offer. The sale grossed $183,450 with an average of $2,210.24 per lot. Angus bulls averaged $2,044 on 38 lots while SimAngus bulls averaged $2,305 on 26 lots. Simmental bulls averaged $2,400 on 13 lots. Hereford bulls averaged $2,433 on six lots. The high-selling bull was lot 19, LHH Safeguard 021 Z206 C15, selling for $3,900. LHH Safeguard 021 Z206 C15 was consigned by Hubert Hightower of FL and purchased by Matt Revell of FL.

Figure 1. Mike Wells from Wells Farm receiving their award for their consignment, WF Hercules, that concluded the test as the Top Indexing SimAngus Bull. Pictured from left to right: Mike Wells of Wells Farm and David Thomas (UF/IFAS NFREC Beef Unit supervisor).
Figure 1.  Mike Wells from Wells Farm receiving their award for their consignment, WF Hercules, that concluded the test as the Top Indexing SimAngus Bull. Pictured from left to right: Mike Wells of Wells Farm and David Thomas (UF/IFAS NFREC Beef Unit supervisor).
Credit: UF/IFAS


Maddock, T. D. and G. C. Lamb. 2009. The Economic Impact of Feed Efficiency in Beef Cattle. AN217. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.


Table 1. 

Summary of feed efficiency data for bulls in the 2016–2017 Florida Bull Test.

Table 2. 

2016–2017 Florida Bull Test individual bull feed efficiency and feed intake data.

Table 3. 

2016–2017 Florida Bull Test individual bull performance in order of final test index.


1. This document is AN341, one of a series of the Department of Animal Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date February 2018. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Luara B. Canal, MS candidate, Department of Animal Sciences; G. Cliff Lamb, professor and head, Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University; and Nicolas DiLorenzo, associate professor, Department of Animal Sciences, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #AN341

Date: 2/28/2018

Fact Sheet


  • Nicolas DiLorenzo