California Polytechnic State University
The Cal Poly Bull Test embodies Cal Poly’s Learn By Doing tradition. This student run enterprise is one of the toughest bull tests in the country, with only half of the 200 consigned bulls qualifying for the sale. The bulls, from five different breeds, are assessed using average daily gain (ADG) and adjusted yearling weight. The Angus bulls are also categorized based on their genetic potential (EPD’s) for low birth weight, high growth, or multi-trait variables. The bulls come from small and large consignors from throughout California, as well as from the Cal Poly herd.
Cal Poly strives to educate its students in practical applications of their learning. Students of all majors and experience levels are welcome to participate in this opportunity to work in an industry-like setting, and over 200 a year reap the educational benefits. Students collaborate and work in every aspect of the Bull Test including administrative activities, herd health, computer data analysis, ration formulation, and merchandising. The student managers of the enterprise are all upper-class students with extensive training in animal care and management.
The Cal Poly Bull Test started in 1956 and was one of the earliest performance bull tests in the country. It was designed to be a proven source of range ready bulls available for sale to commercial cattle producers, provide valuable experience for students in management, and as a service to the Beef Cattle industry. The first year, the test was conducted at Peterson Ranch. The bulls were grained on grass pasture and then weighed at the end of the test, providing unbiased results. From 1956 to 1978, the Bull Test was conducted at the Beef Cattle Evaluation Center and in 1979 the Bull Test moved to Poly Canyon on the outskirts of campus. Today the Test is conducted at the Beef Center, which was designed specifically for Bull Test. Originally, only 60 two-year-old Hereford bulls were admitted to the test. By the late 1960s, Angus bulls began joining the Test and in 1978 the program was switched from two year old to yearling bulls. Today there are eight different breeds on test.
Advances in technology have only improved the Test. Ultrasound measurements and EPD (Expected Progeny Differences) profiles are now used to identify the highest quality bulls, along with information collected throughout the test. Data can be processed and generated by computer, enabling the bulls’ statistics to be immediately available to the producers. Automated technologies have increased the efficiency of feeding and handling of the bulls and introduce students to industry standards.
Genomic data and ultrasound information is now available on the Performance Information page.