UWP students evaluate bulls for auction

January 21, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE- For the past 33 years, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Farm has been the host of the Wisconsin beef bull test station. In 1969-70 the Wisconsin Beef Improvement Association (WBIA) chose the UWP Pioneer Farm as the impartial site for its bull testing.

"The testing of the bulls on the Pioneer Farm is fully sponsored by the WBIA. The Pioneer Farm is contracted to provide a facility for the management and sale of the various types of breeds of bulls. The goal of this testing is to identify genetically superior animals for weight gain in an unbiased location. This adds credibility to the results of the tests," said Phil Wyse, director of the Pioneer Farm staff.

On Dec. 2, the testing began at the Pioneer Farm. Beef breeders mostly from the tri-state area but from as far away as New York, consigned over five different breeds of bulls. Through April 5, UWP students take part in the performance evaluation of the animals, mostly Angus and Simmental breeds, Wyse said. The students monitor the progress and record differences in birth weight, carcass quality and weight gain. The students also take care of feeding and maintenance of the facility.

"We have to feed the bulls by hand the first and last three weeks the bulls are at the farm. We also test the fertility of the bulls and perform ultrasounds for the record books," said Ryan Weiskircher, a fifth-year animal science major from Mineral Point. "I've been one of the primary students involved with the testing at the farm. It's been very educational and challenging for me as well as fun."

Allan Arndt, an alumnus of UWP, is the director of the WBIA. "I wasn't involved in the test as a student at UWP, but I did spend a fair amount of time walking through the bulls on my own. My favorite activity was to sort through the bulls shortly after their arrival and write down the numbers of my favorites. I would then follow them through until the sale. My goal was to be able to identify the high performers and the high sellers as early as possible," Arndt said.

"Platteville has a great facility; it is large enough to handle 150-175 bulls and there are enough pens to separate bulls into manageable groups. It's also a public site where consignors and prospective buyers can stop in at their convenience to view the bulls throughout the testing period right up to the sale day," said Arndt.

"The biggest benefit to hosting the testing and sale at the Pioneer Farm is the UWP staff. They are cooperative, conscientious, and capable. They allow us to make changes as we see fit, to try new ideas and implement new strategies," said Arndt. "The whole effect is one of a successful and progressive enterprise, which again adds credibility to the WBIA and confidence to consigners and buyers."

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