Ryan Chartrand

Cattle ranchers throughout California will come to the Central Coast this weekend to buy Cal Poly’s bulls.

The event, Cal Poly’s 50th annual Field Day and Bull Sale, will be held Saturday and Sunday at the animal science department’s new Beef Center in Escuela Ranch, near Cuesta College.

Agriculture students prepared the bulls for the auction by running tests that help predict the health of their potential offspring. The results were then catalogued and sent out to cattle ranchers. The auction, scheduled for Sunday, is the only one in California to run and document these genetic predictability tests.

Janet Abbot, an agricultural business senior, learned how to vaccinate, ID and weigh bulls in her two years of participating in the program, called Bull Test Enterprise. The program usually starts in May, but was delayed until July this year.

Abbot said the long hours spent preparing the bulls pays off at the auction.

“It’s exciting to watch the bulls that you’ve worked with since July sell after you’ve gotten them ready and to watch them go across the block,” Abbot said.

Michael Hall, beef cattle specialist for the animal science department, said a bull usually sells for around $3,200. He said cattle buyers look for low birthweight, high intramuscular fat and a high lean-to-fat ratio in a bull.

Approximately 500 people are expected to attend the event, Hall said, including a host of alumni that will return for the 50th anniversary to see the new facility.

The new Beef Center, a 2,000-acre plot of land that was six years in the making, has state-of-the-art laboratories and working facilities for feeding and raising the bulls. The laboratories also will be used for ultrasound measurements and embryo transfer work when heifers arrive later in the fall.

Hall said the facility uses low stress animal handling and high safety standards. The view, which overlooks Morro Bay, isn’t bad either.

“There’s not really a nicer place to be in. It’s out of the congestion of campus. We have an opportunity to grow and build at this new facility,” said Hall, a part of the animal science department for 33 years.

On Saturday, cattle producers will give seminars on ways to meet the mandate that will require all cattle nationwide to be identified by 2009. The mandate will help reduce the effects of food-born diseases like E. Coli and Mad Cow Disease.

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