Almost 50 performance-tested beef bulls will hit the auction block Saturday, April 20, for the 36th annual St. Croix Valley Bull Test Sale at UW-River Falls’ Mann Valley Farm near River Falls. The sale kicks off at noon, with Al Conover of Conover Auction Services returning as auctioneer.

Four different breeds from more than 20 Wisconsin consignors will be represented in this year’s sale — Black Angus, Red Angus, South Devon and Simmental.

Bulls are placed in two groups for determining Sale Index, according to Allan Drinkman, vice chairman of the SCVBT board. The breed with the largest enrollment (Black Angus) is in one group and all other breeds are combined together in a second group.

Bulls within each group compete against each other using Average Daily Gain and Weight per Day of Age to determine Sale Index. The order in which the bulls will sell is based on their Sale Index.

The highest Sale Index bull in the Black Angus group is Test ID 4-1, with a sale index of 118.7. The HA Cowboy Up 5405 son is consigned by Jeff Morrissette of J-M Ranch Angus, Poynette.

The highest Sale Index bull from the non-Angus group is Test ID 14-4, a Red Angus with a Sale Index of 127.67. This bull is sired by Bieber Deep End B597 and owned by Danial Showalter of Green Meadows Angus, Gleason.

Awards are presented for the No. 1 and No. 2 highest ADG bulls. This year’s top ADG bull, at 4.44 pounds per day, is S/A Cash 2203-2278 owned by Andy Strasburg of Strasburg Angus, Marshall.

The second-highest ADG bull, at 4.37 pounds per day, is J-M Ranch Cowboy Up 806, owned by Jeff Morrissette of J-M Ranch Angus, Poynette.

Only the top performers on the annual bull test are offered on the spring sale. Typically, only bulls deemed the best in their herd are entered into the bull test and only 70 percent of those bulls perform well enough to earn a place in the sale.

All bulls are ration-tested, ultrasounded to measure carcass quality and fertility-checked to provide the information producers need to select future herd sires. They also have passed a veterinarian breeding soundness exam and are guaranteed to be free of all known genetic defects. Bulls must undergo a series of vaccinations before entry into the test.

The high-forage diet fed on test is designed to allow bulls to express their true genetic potential. A diet of this type, combined with a good health program and genetically superior cattle, gives producers some assurance that a SCVBT bull will add value to their herd.

The purpose of the SCVBT is to evaluate differences in performance traits among bulls raised in a uniform environment and fed under practical conditions. The test serves as an educational tool in that it acquaints producers with performance records, provides them with comparative data based on measurable traits of economic value and acts as a seedstock source.

The bull test is under the genetic supervision of the SCVBT board, which contracts with UW-River Falls to furnish facilities, feeding, care and management of the stock.

In 2018, 32 performance-tested beef bulls were sold for a total of $90,500 and an average price of $2,828 per bull. This compared to 34 bulls sold in 2017 for an average of $2,904 and a sale total of $98,750. Last year’s top-selling bull was a Normande consigned by Jeff Bock of Spring Valley that went for $4,600.