Breeding Season: Bull Reproductive Exams Important

US - Examining bulls for reproductive soundness is important as breeding season approaches, says a Purdue Extension beef specialist.
calendar icon 14 February 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

Veterinarians specialising in reproduction typically perform the exams. They evaluate physical soundness, reproductive organs and semen quality and offer beef producers a chance to determine if bulls have any injuries or conditions that might prevent them from breeding cows in the spring.

"Virgin bulls are among the most important for producers to have tested because up to 10 percent of those animals could have reproductive issues," said Ron Lemenager. "Young bulls seem to be more vulnerable to changes in the environment, nutrition and disease that can affect semen quality. A majority of our producers are using relatively young bulls, so it's important for them to have those animals evaluated."

During the exams, semen quality, volume and motility will be evaluated. The exam provider also will palpate reproductive organs and check for any problems such as swelling, adhesions, hair rings or warts. Young bulls that may not have obtained puberty will be evaluated for reproductive maturity, as well.

Mr Lemenager recommends that producers have their bulls evaluated 30-45 days before the start of breeding season since it takes about 60 days to produce viable semen. Any condition that increases body temperature can result in lower semen quality and/or temporary sterility.

"Normally we talk about evaluating bulls a month to 45 days before breeding so that if they fail the exam, there is time to re-evaluate them," he said. "If they fail a second time, producers then have a chance to find a replacement and still get cows bred on time."

Mr Lemenager also said that with the current status of the industry, breeding soundness exams are worth the cost.

"With the price of cattle and feeds right now, these exams are very cost-effective," he said. "We want to get cows bred and calving on time."

Several Purdue Extension county offices will offer bull breeding soundness evaluations in March and April. They are:

  • Orange County, March 17. Contact: 812-723-7101
  • Washington County, March 21. Contact: 812-883-4601
  • Johnson and Bartholomew counties: April 4. Contact: 812-379-1665
  • Clark County, March 26. Contact: 812-256-4591
  • Morgan County, April 10. Contact: 765-342-1010
  • Lawrence County, April 16. Contact: 812-275-4623

For more location information and to schedule an appointment, call the contacts above. Additional information is available by calling Purdue Extension at 888-EXT-INFO (398-4636) or a local veterinarian.

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