I have bought about 100 registered brangus over the last year. I like the breed but I have one question. everybody CLAIMS to raise bulls in harsh conditions and on grass so they won't melt. But every bull goes on a 112 day gain test. he might weigh 600-650 when he starts and when they finish they are around 1000-1050lbs. my statment is they are not raised on grass. they were fed all they could eat to get to that weight so the ultrasound data could be gathered. I just wonder is this just an excuse to fatten the bulls up real fast and then put them to pasture so you can say they are pasture raised or is there a real benifit in gain test.
IMO, you’re right. If bulls go on a 112 day GRAIN test, they’re not raised on forage. I don’t understand how a breeder could present bulls that have been on a grain test as “pasture raised.” But not ALL bulls are tested, as Larry Sansom is proud to tell you.
We do test our Angus bulls. They are raised on grass at their dam’s side (no creep) until weaning (7-8 months old). At weaning we start them on some grain, along with the best grass we have on the place (or hay, if it’s winter). Every test station has a “test index”. The station we use computes the index as half the average daily gain (ADG) and half 365-day adjusted weight ratios. Some test stations also include ultrasound data, EPDs, or other criteria. If a producer doesn’t feed his weaned calf and puts him on test light, his ADG will likely be good, but his 365-day weight will be lighter. If the producer feeds the calf hard to help his 365-day weight, his ADG will probably not be very good. Of course, there are the good ones that come on test heavy and keep gaining all through the test.
Why we test: The most expensive period in a calf’s life is in the feedlot. The faster a calf gains and gets through the feedlot, the sooner he will put money in the owner’s pocket instead of costing him money. ADG is a heritable trait. By buying performance-tested bulls, producers are trying to improve the ability of their calves to gain in the feedlot. Daughters of those bulls should also produce calves that will be efficient in the feedlot.
There are downsides to testing bulls on hot rations. Some bulls will develop foot problems. But we need to know that, too. Those bulls need to be culled because their calves might develop foot problems in the feedlot and his daughters might not be sound. The guys who run our test station tell me there are lines of Angus that tend to bloat on hot feed. I’d suggest their calves would also tend to bloat in the feedlots. Not a good thing. We sell most of our bulls as yearlings and don’t have problems with the bulls passing a fertility test at that age. My personal opinion is that people who object to performance testing either: (1). Don’t understand it, or (2). Have bulls that can’t gain on grain. But that’s just my opinion. The sales at our test station (OBI) are scheduled so the Angus bulls don’t sell straight off test. They have time to be taken home and let them get their legs back under them before they’re sold. They come home too fat. It takes them a while to work the kinks out of their muscles since they haven’t been very active for 112 days. A yearling bull is still growing. He needs some special care and should be used in a limited breeding program for the first year, 12-15 cows. It continually surprises me how much people will pay for a young bull. Of course, around here it’s tough to find a good two-year-old Angus bull.