THE latest crop of Red Angus Invitational Bull Sale feed efficiency trial participants have taken the first step in the process by being inducted at University of New England's Tullimba Feedlot on Friday.
The success of last year's trial, which assessed participating bulls' feed efficiency, weight gain, fat and eye muscle scans, structural soundness and temperament during a four month period, has paved the way for a sequel this year.
However, unlike last year's program, the 61 participating bulls, up from 45 last year, have come from breeders from across NSW and Victoria, and will start the trial period later than the previous which commenced in September 2020 and finished in January 2021.
"I suppose the biggest change this year is that the trial has started later," Red Angus breeder Ross Anderson said.
"However, unlike last year where the bulls went back to their respective properties at the end of the trial, this year they will stay here and go straight to the sale (three weeks after the trial finishes).
"The change was largely lead by the participating vendors from last year because the variation in the bulls from when they finished the trial to sale day was quite significant, so this way they will all be treated the same under the same conditions."
Friday's induction marked the beginning of the conditioning phase for all of the bulls as they entered the feedlot, while the trial is slated to begin in mid-February.
The bulls represent 13 studs and ranged in age from 10-19 months. They weighed 518 kilograms on average, with a weight range of 344 to 674 kilograms.
"All of the bulls have been at Tullimba in the paddock for about two weeks or so now and have lost about one kilogram of weight per day on average (since leaving their respective home properties), which was to be expected (due to trucking and blending of bulls from numerous locations together)," Mr Anderson said.
"We're really interested to see how they go and considering all of the pre-sale stuff such as weighing, videoing and cataloguing will be done here, it should be very interesting."
Fellow Red Angus breeder Graham Jordan, Goonoo Red Angus, Tamworth, said the trial was sure to deliver quality data for perspective buyers.
"I think the biggest thing a perspective buyer will be able to see out of this trial is feed efficiency and while not everyone looks at that when buying a bull, it is something else we can offer them," Mr Jordan said.
"Today's buyer is a lot younger and they expect more data, which is what we're trying to give them.
"Not a lot of other breeds do it, so it's unique to us."
The move to keep the bulls as one draft right up until sale day is believed to be enticing to buyers as it allows for a direct comparison of sire prospects from different stud operations that have all been running under the same conditions.
This normally is not possible due to different feed regimes, environments and management.
As well as welcoming new vendors, this year's trial will also feature some black-coloured Red Angus bulls for the first time, while the variation in age of the bulls entered into the trial has remained.
"They are registered Red Angus bulls that are red-gene carriers, they just have a black coat," Mr Anderson said.
"Some of their full brothers are completely red and they have the ability to throw red or black calves.
"It's just one of the things that makes the Red Angus breed so unique."
New and interstate participant Cliff Downey from Redgums Red Angus, Yambuna, Victoria, entered two bulls in this year's trial saying it a good idea and presents a great opportunity for breeders to test sires in a feedlot situation.
"We were interested in it when it first came up, but unfortunately didn't have as much time to get bulls ready and the bulls last year had to come back or go somewhere after the trial before the sale," Mr Downey said.
"Given they can stay there, and there was plenty of lead time it is a great opportunity this year.
"I don't like the idea of black coated red carrier bulls, but that is only my preference.
"What I was interested in was seeing how the progeny of a new sire we have would work out in the trial."
Mr Downey looks forward to following his own bulls progress as well as others throughout the 70-day feed trial before the bulls sell on May 19 at the Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange.
2022 Tullimba Red Angus Bull Trial entrants:
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