Observe Bull During Breeding Season

By Clyde Lane, Jr., Professor Animal Science and published by University of Tennessee in Beef Cattle Time, Volume 25, Number 2, Spring 2007
calendar icon 21 May 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The number of calves born is an important factor in the profitability of a beef operation. Since the bull is the major contributing factor to a large calf crop, every effort must be made to ensure that he settles as many cows as possible.

First, the bull should have a breeding soundness examination performed prior to the breeding season. If this has not been done, consider doing it now. It is important for the bull to be physically fit, have the potential to produce an ample supply of viable sperm and have the ability to deliver it at the first estrus cycle of the brood cow herd.

Next, observe the bull to be sure he is settling cows. Is the bull active and actually mating with cows? If not the problem needs to be addressed immediately. Many times a bull with an injury to the reproductive tract will follow cows but will not mate.

Do not forget that there are other reasons why bulls do not get cows settled. A bull with an eye injury, or even pinkeye, will be in so much pain that he will loose interest in the cows. Be sure the bull does not have a skeletal injury that prevents or reduces his movement. A bull with foot rot, an injured foot or a stifle injury will not have a desire to breed.

Many producers do not consider whether the bull might be overworked. Placing a bull with too many cows that cover a large area can cause him to be overworked.Sometimes, an overworked bull will simply loose the desire to mate with the remaining cows.

If a young bull is being used for the first time, observe whether he has the desire to mate. Sometimes bulls that have no desire to mate with cows are found. Also observe the young bull to see that he does not spend all his time with one female while ignoring the remaining cows.

Keep a close watch during the breeding season. Remove any bulls that are not settling cows and replace them with ones that can settle cows. This is the best way to salvage a calf crop when problems occur.

April 2007

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