Just like football players, bulls benefit from pre-season training and assessment. If you are planning on joining cows and heifers this spring, now is the time to start getting your bulls ready.
Bulls should be on farm and grouped 2-3 months before joining. This allows time for their social order to be determined and will reduce the amount of fighting once joining starts.
The greatest importance when feeding bulls is the overall energy and protein content. Sperm production is impaired by gross deficiencies of either, particularly when bulls are breaking down body reserves to meet maintenance requirements. If feed is limited for bulls, supplementary feeding is crucial. This said, overfeeding mature bulls leads to them becoming excessively fat and heavy. Therefore it is best to aim for a condition score of 3/5 at start of joining.
Care and husbandry
Bulls are often forgotten when it comes to routine prophylactic procedures. It is important they get their routine vaccinations. For all bulls this should include 5-in-1 OR 7-in-1 and Vibrovax®. It is strongly recommended to vaccinate bulls with Pestigard® pre-joining as well. Also remember routine anthelmintic treatments for bulls.
Lame bulls = lame pregnancy rates. It is common for bulls to become lame or develop malconformed feet during the non-breeding season. Lameness has a twofold effect on a bull’s fertility:
Lame bulls are physically unwilling to mount cows due to the associated pain
Any chronically painful lesion in the locomotor system is associated with corticosteroid release, which in turn impairs fertility. This fertility impairment takes months to resolve.
If bulls have malconformed feet they should be trimmed. If bulls are currently lame, it’s unlikely they will be suitable for the upcoming joining.
Now is the time to organize a pre-mating Veterinary Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation!