Approximately 100 cattle owners, buyers and experts gathered Tuesday at the NMSU Ag Science Center just outside Tucumcari for the annual bull sale.
The bulls for sale had participated in a 112 day bull test designed to find out which bulls gained the most weight with each bull given the same amount of feed each day.
John Heckendorn, a rancher from Moriarty, sold one of his top Black Angus bulls for a reported $2,800. The bull weighed in at 1,382 pounds at the time of sale. Heckendorn said the Black Angus breed is probably the most respected breed.
“Black cattle like Angus are generally believed to provide the most tender meat,” said Heckendorn. “But the Charlais, Salers and Hereford breeds provide grade A meat as well.”
George Gunn, a rancher from Fort Sumner, bought another of Heckendorn’s Black Angus bulls. He echoed Heckendorn in his praise of black cattle.
“I like black bulls because buyers like black bulls,” said Gunn, a commercial breeder.
William Kahlich brought four black Salers bulls from his ranch in Hereford, Texas to the bull test and sale. He said the bull test provides a unique service.
“I wouldn’t have time at my ranch to make sure all my bulls were getting the same amount of feed everyday,” said Kahlich. “Here at the Ag Science center, the bulls are monitored daily and when it comes time to sell them, the buyer can get all the paperwork that shows how well the bulls performed.”
Around 60 bulls were available for purchase Tuesday. By the sale’s end, fewer than ten had been sold. Pete Walden, Quay County Extension Agent for NMSU, attributed the low sales this year to drought conditions during the past year.
“To put it simply, because of the drought ranchers have sold off some of their cows,” said Walden. “With fewer cows, there just isn’t a need for very many bulls.”
Randy White, an Albuquerque area rancher, said he paid $400 per bull to have some of them participate in the 112-day bull test.
“It is worth it because the Ag Science center here provides ideal conditions for bulls to fatten up,” said White. “It’s a dry climate here. Bulls are more comfortable in a dry climate , and so they tend to eat more.”
Rancher Kahlich of Hereford said the Tucumcari bull test is the only one of its kind in the region.
“The next closest test site would be in Goodwell, Okla.,” said Kahlich. “This site in Tucumcari can’t be beat for its daily monitoring. They even conduct ultra sounds here to monitor meat growth on the cattle.”