An LSU AgCenter program that tests the performance of bulls benefits cattle producers and the state's beef industry, according to experts.

Known as the Bull Performance Testing Program, the effort operates out of the LSU AgCenter's Dean Lee Research Station south of Alexandria, La.

Under the program, purebred beef cattle producers can consign animals to be tested. Experts say the beef industry benefits from the testing because producers can use the data collected to select sires that are healthy, sound and ready to go to work producing calves.

“This is one of the oldest and longest-running performance tests in the United States,” said LSU AgCenter animal science professor Danny Coombs.

Since the program's beginning in 1958, more than 6,000 bulls from 20 or more breeds have been consigned by more than 400 purebred beef producers in the state, Coombs said.

Purebred producers may enter a bull in the program by paying a $100 nomination fee and the feed cost, which usually runs about $400 per animal. Performance testing is offered two times per year — in the winter and in the summer.

When entering the program, bulls are checked for general health requirements. Then they are grouped by age and breed, placed in one of the 10 feeding pens with other animals and fed a free choice ration.

“All bulls are fed a 13-percent protein ration for the 112-day test period,” Coombs explained.

During the testing period bulls are weighted every 28 days and measured at the hips, pelvic area and scrotum.

Before sale, which concludes the program, breeding soundness exams and ultrasound measurements of the ribeye area are collected to measure fat thickness and marbling.

Information about each animal is published and placed on the Internet at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/our_offices/research_stations/Deanlee/Features/bull_test_station/ for buyers and other cattle producers to study before the sale.

This year's sale will be held March 4 at the Dean Lee Research Station.

“The sale will be a good opportunity for producers to purchase bulls with production records that are healthy and ready to go to work,” said Coombs.

For more information on beef cattle or other agricultural topics, contact Danny Coombs at (318) 473-6528 or dcoombs@agcenter.lsu.edu.