BLACKVILLE, S.C. — Final exams came early for nearly 50 top bovines at Clemson University’s Edisto Research and Education Center.
All passed with flying colors.
The Edisto Forage Bull Test, an annual event that helps cattle farmers identify superior genetics, culminated with an auction of the animals after 168 days measuring their weight gain on the same diet they’ll find on the job.
While most bull tests feed the animals grain, the Edisto test offers bulls merely what they will get when they start to work: pasture grass.
“The test helps us identify efficiency in how the animals gain weight so that these genetic traits will be passed along to their offspring,” said Scott Sell, a Clemson Extension agent who directs the Edisto forage bull test. “It’s important that this test is managed on grass because that’s how southeastern cow-calf operators manage their herds.”
The bulls were monitored throughout the test and graded on three scales: average daily weight gain during the test, weight per day of age at the end of the test and a closely watched index that takes both those measures into account.
Cattle producers paid an average of more than $2,900 each for the 38 bulls in the auction; the 10 bred heifers each drew an average of $2,220.
The event drew more than 100 visitors from three states as well as an online audience of buyers through DVAuction.com.
The Edisto test started in 1982 to focus on the Southeast’s advantage in the cattle business: the ability to grow high-quality, lush forages year-round.
“This was an especially good group of bulls,” Sell said. “Over the years we’ve seen the performance of bulls in the test steadily improve. Ultimately, that genetic improve pays off in more efficient weight gain for the cattle industry in South Carolina.”
A new crop of bulls for the 2018 test will enter the pastures of Clemson’s Edisto Research and Education Center in December.
— Tom Hallman, Public Service and Agriculture; College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, Clemson University
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