MU Extension photo.

The 96th Southwest Missouri All-Breed Performance Tested Bull Sale will be held at the Springfield Livestock Marketing Center 7 p.m. on Oct. 26. Bull entries are low this sale with 34 Angus and two Gelbvieh.

Even though the number of bulls are lower than normal, the expected progeny difference numbers are very high on the bulls. In fact, 35 of the 36 bulls rank in the top 10 percentile for one or more EPDs. This means if you've identified certain traits in your herd that you need to improve, look for those top 10 EPD percentiles in your bull choices.

Many herd owners in this area look for calving ease and growth. Thus a sale such as the tested bull sale makes it simple to do a quick search for bulls with EPD percentiles in the low numbers such as the 10% range for growth, calving ease, etc.

Buyers need to make sure when they find bulls with desirable EPDs, they aren't in the 80th percentile or worse for some traits they can't afford to sacrifice poor performance just to improve the other needed traits. Thus, it becomes quite a balancing act in their bull or semen search.

I always stress to buyers to gather factual data on their cow herd before picking up a bull sale catalog. Unless you're a purebred breeder that factual data may not be available. The next best approach is to review the EPDs on the last few bulls you've purchased. If you save heifers from those bulls, their EPD averages will show the kind of "seed" you've been sowing in your gene pool.

The above approach isn't perfect, but it's a good way to get started. The use of genomic testing is another way to obtain data on the strengths and weaknesses in your herd. During the last several years calving ease has been on everyone's mind and now we hear complaints that maybe you've overdone a very good EPD. The same might be said for milk, growth and some carcass EPDs. Just remember, EPDs work over the long haul and are the most powerful genetic selection tool you have.

If you have questions on the various numbers presented in the tested bull sale catalog, plan to attend the "Buying Bulls by the Numbers" session at 5:30 p.m. prior to the sale on Oct. 26. University of Missouri Extension field specialists in livestock will be available to address your questions. You may find the sale catalog online at www.swmobcia.com. Bidding online is available at www.livewireauction.com.

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