It’s no bull, time to get out your hat

By John Villalba

During this time of year, farmers and ranchers are getting ready to begin another cycle. Most activity is centered around babies on the ground, field preparation, and seedstock sales.

Seedstock sales are commonly advertised during the spring, because it is a good time for ranchers to figure out how or where they need to improve their existing herds.
This is where a good bull sale comes into play. These sales are a great opportunity for ranchers to view and buy top quality bulls.

A sale that sticks out in my mind very vividly is the Tucumcari Bull Test Sale. In its 46th consecutive year, this sale provides an excellent opportunity to improve herds by adding a bull or three to your battery. You can do some one-stop shopping and improve your herd. Wow!
From seeing those bulls for the past 84 days, I can honestly tell you that there is a bull out there for everyone.

The way the bull test is set up, is for cooperators (the bull owners) to bring a certain number of bulls from their ranches to be fed for 112 days. At 28, 56, and 84 days the bulls are weighed in order to calculate statistics such as average daily gain and weight per day of age.

Other statistics, such as EPD’s and pedigree, are available for evaluation, which also assists in finding the right bull.
However, I believe the best thing about this sale is that it showcases bulls that are raised right here in Quay County.
In previous columns that I have written, I like to use personal experiences.

The Tucumcari Bull Test fits into that category. I can remember coming to this sale many times when I was only knee high to a grasshopper.

You know I don’t wear a hat very often. A cap, but not a hat. I got that from my grandfather, because the only time I ever remember seeing a hat on his head was when we went to bull sales or the sale barn.

My grandfather and I would get into the old, long Mercury and head for Tucumcari.

Something that came up every year was, “Grandpa, how are we gonna get the bulls home with a car?” He always told me the same answer every year. “Oh, a neighbor will bring ‘em back.”

Anyway, we would get into town and head for the Ag Science Center. Upon getting his bidder’s number, we went out into the pens to look at all of the bulls.

My grandfather would teach me about looking for this or that on a bull, and tell me how the bull could help our herd.
After evaluating the bulls, we went into the barn and sat down for lunch. Looking into the crowd of all the prospective buyers, I saw many grandfather/grandson teams, and knew that this was a special day and place.

The sale would get started shortly thereafter, and the call of the auctioneer would put me in a trance.

The lessons I learned from those sales will stay with me forever. I learned from my grandfather that you only wear a hat on special occasions. The bull test sale is a special occasion in my book.

Not only can producers come to buy bulls here, but they can prepare another generation for the business. This sale offers high quality bulls in a great learning environment for all.

The tests were designed to feed bulls, and let the bulls do the talking. The performance data on each bull would sell that respective bull.

In dealing with 4-H on a daily basis, I can see how teaching and learning are great tools for younger and older people to use.

So, on March 16, get to the bull sale and I guarantee you’ll see me in a hat!

John Villalba is the 4-H agent at the Quay County Extension Office.