Not even cattle can escape the economic downturn. Bulls auctioned at South Carolina’s 2008 Edisto Forage Bull Test Sale fetched an average of $1,501, that’s down $772, or nearly 34 percent, from a year ago.

Larry Olson, Extension animal scientist and Clemson University Bull Testing Program coordinator, said the cattle industry is affected by a downturn in the economy just like everything else.

Further, two years of drought in South Carolina have affected the number of cows in the state, which in turn has reduced the number of bulls required.

“The drought has put some people out of the cattle business,” Olson said.

Clemson University’s Edisto Research and Education Center, Clemson Extension and the South Carolina Cattlemen’s Association hosted the first Cattlemen’s Day at the annual Edisto Forage Bull Test Sale, Saturday, Oct. 11.

Forty-seven purebred bulls were on display and sold at auction.

To be included in the sale, all participants passed strict tests in the months leading up to the auction. The average age of the bulls was 19 months and they weighed in at an average of more than 1,500 pounds.

During educational sessions before the auction, Kevin Campbell, livestock and forage agent with the Greenwood County Extension office, gave tips to help make bulls a little more marketable. In a word, “hay,” he said.

Forget about how many bales a field yields, focus on the quality of the hay, Campbell said. The more palatable the hay, the more a bull will eat and the more weight it will gain. That means the bull will be in good shape going into the breeding season.

“Concentrate on soil and hay quality and less time putting out fertilizer,” Campbell said. “After all, fertilization doesn’t make for better hay, it just makes more hay,” he said.

Campbell shared his six rules of haymaking: Age affects quality; don’t short-change the potassium; control the weeds; test the hay, test the soil; and “none of this matters if you don’t have moisture.

“Brag about the quality, not about how many bales you made,” Campbell said.