The testing involves exposing the bulls to uniform feeding and housing conditions, with the idea of further establishing the genetic potential of particular bulls (namely genetically superior bulls). Traits measured include growth potential measured through weight gain, visual muscle and skeletal measures (linear scoring), docility and functionality (also measured by linear scorers), ultrasound fat and muscle, and finally feed intake which allows a cost of production to be placed on the output traits. This information is combined at the end of test with previous performance tested animals but also with commercially recorded data including calving and gestation information, weaning weight and calf value from the livestock marts, linear type classification from pedigree beef herds, carcass weight, carcass fat and carcass conformation data from the factories, as well as pedigree ancestry information stored on the ICBF database. These results allow a genetic profile of all animals with records and related animals to be computed in the form of a €uro-star index. When bulls commence the performance test their new information can help to improve or dis-improve their indexes in an equal measure. However the average genetic merit of the group tested will generally remain similar before and after the performance test.
- When the bulls enter pre-entry isolation they are clipped, dosed, treated for lice, and sorted into pens based on breed and weight. The bulls are weighed after meeting the testing requirements for IBR during the 30 day pre-entry isolation period, and this signifies the beginning of the test.
- The bulls are housed primarily indoors on a bedding of peat moss, and also have access to an outdoor pen bedded with wood chip.
- The bulls are fed ration at a less than ad lib rate until such time as they have become acclimatised to the meal (14 days approx). This is very important to maintain the health of the animal with a change in diet. They are then moved to ad lib feeding, and are also given a ration of hay twice a day. Bulls are provided with ad lib water.
- Health checks of the entire herd are carried out three times daily.
- Bulls are provided with a vitamin and mineral lick, and a mineral revitalise dose if required.
- During the test the animals are weighed on a three-weekly basis to assess their growth rate. Breeders are notified of the weight of their bull(s) after each weighting.
- The bulls are washed every four to six weeks during the test, depending on weather.
- Bulls are exercised in an open pasture paddock twice a week for a three-hour period each time if deemed necessary.