NY All-Forage Fed Bull Test Wraps Up Its Second Year

5/10/2014 7:00 AM
By Helen Margaret Griffiths New York Correspondent

DRYDEN, N.Y. — The final field day for the 2014 New York All-Forage Fed Bull Test took place last weekend at the Cornell University Ruminant Center in Dryden, N.Y., where the test had been performed. Attendance was good, even though there were a number of competing events including the Trowbridge annual bull sale in Canandaigua, N.Y.

Nancy Glazier, northwest New York small farms/livestock specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, who has been managing the test, summarized the findings of the test before asking consignors to comment on their animals.

New York is well-positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for grass-raised beef, with large urban markets and excellent forage opportunities. One of the keys to profitability is the identification and use of genetics that will result in a quality product in a reasonable time frame.

Brett Chedzoy, who runs Angus Glen Farm with his family in Watkins Glen, N.Y., was keenly aware of the need and approached researchers at Cornell with ideas that resulted in the creation of the test. The all-forage fed bull test is entirely producer driven, with the goal of helping breeders and buyers assess the performance and quality of young bulls on a typical commercial forage.

The first test was conducted in the winter of 2013 and was a success.

“We did a lot of PR to get this off the ground,” said Glazier, who works with Cornell beef Extension specialist, Mike Baker. Fourteen bulls from six farms in New York and Virginia participated in the 2013 test. The average weight of the young bulls on arrival was 621 pounds. Upon leaving the test after 112 days, the average weight was 847 pounds, an average daily gain of 2.1 pounds.

Using computer modeling, the predicted gain is 1.5 pounds for a bull on a diet of good-quality second-cutting hay and mineral.

“The animals that arrived in better body condition gained more through the test,” Glazier said. The animals sold for a good price at auction.

The second test, which officially started Jan. 15, had all the same requirements for animal participation as the first test and was completed this past Wednesday. There were 16 bulls from 10 farms in the second test.

“We added some Pennsylvania farms to this second test,” Glazier said.

The bulls were divided into two groups and two feeds were tested: a triticale silage plus calcium carbonate to meet calcium requirements, and alfalfa hay silage. Both feeds were supplemented with Kent Feeds minerals donated by Sammi Clark of Kent Feeds.

At 56 days — March 12 — and after weighing, the groups were switched to the second feed. Glazier pointed out that so far, there is more variability in weight gain than was observed in the first test. Final weights were taken Thursday and carcass ultrasounds were performed Friday. The ultrasounds will give rump fat, rib fat, rib-eye and intramuscular data that will allow owners and prospective buyers to evaluate carcass quality of these potential herd sires.

The majority of the consignors were present at last weekend’s field day, and some had animals they wanted to sell. A young member of the Coombe family of Thunder View Farms in Grahamsville, N.Y., was anxious to sell her Angus bull as she is saving to attend Cornell.

Many commented that they wanted the test to continue for additional years and that they were happy to participate.

Glazier said “the goal for 2015 is to reach current capacity of 30 young bulls, with the test remaining a forage test housed at the beef unit at Cornell’s Ruminant Center. We are looking to form an advisory council to move the test forward with research components of value to beef producers.”

Producers asked about including a pasture section to the test, accommodating the producer who has a split spring/fall production herd, and the fall-based herd producer. Someone else asked about incorporating a progeny test.

Several consignors thought it would be good to change the delivery date to allow bulls to be shipped directly to The New York Beef Producers Association All Breed Bull and Heifer Sale, which is held in Seneca Falls in late April.

Producers who have questions or are interested in being involved in the test should contact Nancy Glazier at 585-315-7746 or nig3@cornell.edu, or Mike Baker at 607-255-5923 or mjb228@cornell.edu.

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