Two Routt County ranching families have bulls that rank among the best in the state.
David Funk of Hayden and Dan, Brandon and Karen Craig of Phippsburg took top honors for their bulls at the 56th Annual High Altitude Performance Bull Test conducted in La Plata County, where the elevation is 7,600 feet.
Dan Craig said about 20 cattle producers brought about 110 bulls to the 112-day test. The bulls are weighed in October, and usually, results are gathered at the end of February. The test is meant to measure the feed efficiency of cattle throughout multiple breeds. The Craigs' bull was the top-performing Hereford.
"The less you have to feed them to do what you want to do, the more money you make," Dan Craig said.
The test also was meant to see how the cattle would do in a high-altitude environment and whether they would catch a disease known as Brisket.
"There is a lot more pressure against (agriculture) than there is to keep going," Dan Craig said. "What we're trying to do is raise the most efficient cattle we can."
Pressures include how ranchers use their water rights and land, he said.
"You can make more money planting houses than you can planting anything else on it," Dan Craig said.
The performance of Funk's Black Angus bull was especially impressive because he raises commercial cattle, not pedigrees.
"The registered Black Angus bulls in the test this year represent the bloodlines of the royalty of the Black Angus world, and besting them is an achievement of which David can be proud," said Carolyn Watson, the secretary of the association.
C.J. Mucklow, with the Routt County Cooperative Extension Service, credits the success to careful breeding and the ranchers knowing their cattle.
The Craigs' bulls and Funk's bulls will be auctioned April 1 in Hesperus.