Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The value of performance testing bucks

I have been utilizing buck performance tests since 2004. There are several benefits to such tests:
  1. You can learn which genetics are working.
  2. You can learn which genetics are not working.
  3. If your genetics do well, it is a great marketing tool.
  4. It's fun if you are a competitive person. 
Organizers always stress it is not a contest — instead, it's educational and informative. But it's a contest, too, 'cause someone's got to win.

I plan to enter bucks in the same two performance tests as last year, a forage test in Oklahoma and a feed test in Illinois.

Each year, Kerr Center and OSU conduct the Oklahoma Forage-Based Buck TestNominations for the 2011 buck test are due June 24, 2011. Check-in: June 30, (Thursday) 1pm-5pm; warm-up: July 1- July 10; Test Period: July 11- Sept. 21; Field Day & Awards: Sept. 24. Contact Mary Penick at 918-647-9123 or e-mail

The Western Illinois University 2011 Midwest buck performance test will be held at the agricultural research facilities in Macomb, Ill., this summer. Buck delivery is set for Saturday morning,  July 16. The test comprises an adjustment period followed by four 21-day quarters for a total test duration of 90 days (ending October 14). For more information contact Paul Miller at
It costs around $100 a head to enter bucks in a test, plus the expense of transporting them.

So how do I select the bucks that will go on test? Some producers will tell you that they take birth weights, weaning weights, calculate average daily gain before and after weaning, triangulate with the dam's weight, etc., etc., and make their decisions based on the statistical evidentiary superiority of certain bucklings.

I don't do that. I go in the pasture and pick out the biggest buck kids out there. There are always a few that are a head higher than all the rest or twice as broad. It doesn't take calculus to figure out they are the superior animals. 

March-born ECR Rusty son.
I've had my sights on this kid from the day he was born. He has the most unique muscling on his rear leg for a purebred Kiko. He is a twin, running with his mother and sister on pasture and is still nursing. He and the buck pictured below are tentatively scheduled to go to the Oklahoma forage test.

March-born purebred Kiko buck out of
ECR Xtender, a son of CCR Xcelerator.
I plan to send several of my best 100% New Zealand Kikos to the WIU feed test. I haven't decided who's going yet so I don't have photos. The guys come off this test looking like a million dollars. Detractors will say that full feed and fat will cover up a lot of defects. I look at it the other way around: full feed can accelerate the good traits just as well. But just as on a bull test, don't take them straight out of the feed lot and throw them out in the pasture. Of course they will suffer. Ease them off the full-feed diet and slowly acclimate them back to the pasture. If you manage him right, the early growth on a feed test will give him a head start that can last a lifetime.

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