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Bull Sale Season Has Arrived

Written by Curt Cox

I am sure you have noticed from the numerous sale catalogs you’ve been receiving in the mail that bull sale season has again rolled around. I thought I would take a moment let you know how the bull market has been so far this year so maybe you can have an idea what to expect as you prepare to make your bull purchases. There have already been a handful of sales, including several different breeds, held around the region. This is a broad view of what I have seen so far.


In general the demand for bulls has been a little stronger when compared to this same time last year. This seems to be especially true for calving ease bulls, which really isn’t a big surprise to me considering the shortage of labor that we are currently experiencing. We are so spread out already, who has time to stop and help a cow calve?
If you are going to be searching out bulls that possess calving ease genetics this year you may have to pay a little more to get them bought or search a little harder than normal to find bulls that are similar in quality to what you have been buying without having to spend more for them. I do have one suggestion that might help you out as you look for this type of bull.


Most of the time we can tell if a bull will be calving ease by examining him physically along with inspecting his actual birth weight and birth weight (BW) EPD. If he hits all the marks that we are looking for in those three areas then we can feel pretty comfortable that he will work. The problem is that everyone else at the sale is looking for the same things you are. What if you had a tool that would allow you to confidently add more calving ease bulls to your list of potential candidates, which everyone else might not necessarily have marked down on theirs? We all know that there is a huge difference between a low birth weight bull and a calving ease bull. Just because a bull’s calves might weigh 70 pounds or 85 pounds when they are born their phenotypic make-up determines if the bull is calving ease regardless of what his calves weigh at birth.


Almost every one of the major cattle breed associations has developed a Calving Ease Direct (CED) EPD. Essentially what this EPD does is act as a tool that allows you to compare two or more bull’s probability of producing offspring that calve without assistance. When making these comparisons it is important to remember the higher the number the more likely the bull will be calving ease. That’s exactly the opposite of how you compare BW EPDs. So, for example, if you are comparing two bulls – one with a CED EPD of +4 and the second with a +9, the second bull’s calves will more likely be born without assistance even if the calves weigh a little more.


By using the CED EPD as an additional selection tool you might be able to locate bulls that possess a little more actual birth weight or a little higher BW EPD than you and other buyers would normally feel comfortable selecting as a sure shot calving ease bull, but in reality will fit your needs. You will more than likely, judging on what I have seen at sales so far, be able to get this bull bought at a discount while still maintaining the calving ease you are looking for in your bull battery.


Many breeders are starting to include the CED EPD in their catalog or sale supplements and if not I am sure they would be more than willing to get this information to you if you contact them prior to their sale. My example was very simplified because I didn’t want to bore you with the details, so I encourage you to visit with your seedstock provider(s) or the breed association of your choice to get more information on CED EPDs.


Good Luck!
Curt