1963 History: First all-breed tested bull sale in Missouri

Posted November 21, 2013 at 11:17 am

Fifty years ago, on Nov. 13, 1963, the first all-breed performance tested bull sale was held in Missouri. Even though that particular sale no longer exists, it was the forerunner of information and practices seen in bull sales today according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

During the 1963 sale there were different breeds sold by two breed biased auctioneers. One was viewed as an Angus person and the other one a popular Polled Hereford auctioneer. The 43 head in the sale included Angus, Polled Hereford, Hereford, Shorthorn and Polled Shorthorn.

“Ultimately, the breeders decided they could coexist,” said Cole. “Another oddity of the 1963 sale was eligible bulls had to achieve certain performance standards. A bull couldn’t just be a good looking bull.”

According to Cole, eligible bulls had to be above average for weaning weight in his contemporary group. His daily gain must be 2.25 pounds during a 140-day feeding period. Bulls also needed to weigh at least 800 lbs. at 365 days. The 43 head, average yearling weight was 901 lbs. An optional feature was a sale day weight.

Another optional item was adjusted loin area to 1000 lbs. This item was measured by sonoray or ultrasound as we know it today. Backfat and intramuscular fat were not estimated. The average for the 21 bull’s sonorayed was 13.2 square inches of loineye.

Central bull test stations were not popular in 1963 yet. The University of Missouri did have a small one at their South Farm. A feature at the station was a labor-intensive system to individually feed the bulls so daily intake could be measured. This allowed for an estimate of feed efficiency. Only six of the 43 sale bulls had an efficiency reported. The range was from 616 to 832 lbs. of feed per 100 lbs. of weight gain during the 140-day test.

The sale bulls were graded by state extension livestock specialists using the A, B, C± system that was unique to Missouri. Bulls grading a B- or better were eligible for the sale. The subjective grades stressed soundness and freedom of obvious defects of conformation.

Bulls were required to pass a semen test within 90 days of sale date. Scrotal measurements were not a part of the test. All bulls were tested and found negative for Tuberculosis and Brucellosis.

“When you compare the simpleness of this tested sale to today’s high-tech, sales with video, expected progeny differences (EPD), residual feed intake (RFI), DNA enhanced data and more, you have to agree, the process of evaluating bulls has come a long way. This allows breeders to speed up their rate of progress,” said Cole.

According to Cole, the 1963 sale averaged $649 per bull with a range from $335 to $1375.

“In 1963, this was viewed as a bold, and highly successful sale. Interest in the sale and on-farm testing led by University of Missouri Extension staff helped promote objective measuring of beef cattle performance across the state,” said Cole.

The primary force behind this effort was Dr. John Massey, state MU Extension livestock specialist who moved to Aurora in 1992 following retirement.

“The Missouri tested sales that filled the void left by the original sale, which ceased in 2008, now are regional sales held in the southeast, north-east and southwest parts of the state,” said Cole.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551, Dr. Patrick Davis in Cedar County at (417) 276-3313 or Logan Wallace in Howell County at (417) 256-2391.