CLEMSON — The 2017 Clemson Extension Bull Test and Heifer Sale will go down as one of the best sales ever.
The sale of 45 bulls brought in $143,950 for an average of $3,198 per bull at the T. Ed Garrison Livestock Arena. The top 10 selling bulls averaged $4,900 per bull. Organizers said this year’s sale broke last year’s average.
“The sale was fast-paced and exciting with rapid bidding,” said Steve Meadows, Clemson Extension Bull Test Program coordinator. “This year’s sale was one of the best we’ve ever had.”
Following the bull sale, seven pens with 15 open, yearling heifers sold for $20,500 – an average of $1,366 per heifer.
The Clemson Bull Test is a 112-day feedlot test in which bulls are fed a commodity byproduct-based bull test ration. Heights and weights are recorded for each bull throughout the test. Once the test is complete, the test bulls, as well as some heifers, are auctioned during the Clemson Bull Test and Heifer Sale.
In the 35 sales since 1981, 1,679 bulls have been sold for $3,454,625.
“This sale provides purebred breeders an opportunity to improve their herds,” Meadows said.
This was the first year Lindy Sheppard from Sylvania, Georgia, participated in the Bull Test Sale at the Garrison Arena, although he has participated in Clemson’s Edisto Forage Bull Test in previous years. His first year at the Garrison Arena was a lucky year as his angus bull was selected as the first bull in the sale and sold for $8,000.
“For me, raising cattle is a family business,” Sheppard said. “My whole family takes part in it. It’s something we all enjoy doing.”
Sheppard’s family includes his wife, Stephanie, who Sheppard said, “knows more about cattle than I do”; his daughter, Whitney, who is in charge of promoting the business on Facebook and Twitter; his daughter, Hayley; and his son, Wyatt.
“Our children were involved in 4-H and FFA when they were in school,” he said. “They raised and showed registered angus. Raising cattle has always been an important part of our lives.”
This year also was the first time Greg Ruff from Elberton, Georgia had a bull in the Bull Test. Ruff said the sale was a “great experience” for both him and his son, Gantt.
“I’m trying to find a better way to market my yearling bulls,” Ruff said. “Events such as this are great for networking. They also provide excellent teachable moments for both me and him.”
Gantt is in the fifth grade. He is homeschooled and shows sheep as part of his 4-H livestock project. His mother, Shannon, and his older sisters, Anna and Ansley, also are involved in raising livestock.
“Caring for and raising livestock is one of the sweetest things we do as a family because we do it together,” Ruff said. “It’s healthy for our family. It strengthens our bond and draws us closer.”
Travis and Heather Collins, who own Collins Cattle Co. in Taylors, also said the sale gives them an opportunity to network with others in the cattle business.
“My family owns a historic herd,” said Heather Collins, who has a master’s degree in reproductive physiology. “We participated in this sale because we wanted to meet others who are involved in raising high-quality cattle so that we can improve our herd. We believe that we can improve our herd by breeding the best with the best. This (sale) allows us to expand, as well as improve the genetics, of our herd.”
For more information on the Clemson Bull Test Program, go to www.clemson.edu/extension/bulltest.
Clemson University is also the location for this year’s South Carolina Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting. Matthew Burns, Extension Beef specialist, said the meeting is scheduled for March 9-10 at The Madren Center on the campus. More information is at http://bit.ly/2lRryHb.
Denise Attaway works in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture at Clemson University.