Current Progressive Cattle digital edition

Exams show gaps in breeding soundness

University of Missouri Extension Published on 29 October 2010

MT. VERNON, Mo. -- Fall breeding soundness exams done on 95 bulls in Cassville, Miller, Billings and Aurora revealed that 10 (or 10.5 percent), would not do well at getting cows or heifers bred if turned out on that day.

According to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, producers that don’t have bulls checked run a higher risk of using a bull that can’t keep up and the result will be a strung out calf crop that will result in management headaches.

“Clinics in the last few years have revealed about 15 percent of the bulls checked have failed or needed a re-check to be a satisfactory potential breeder,” said Cole.
Bulls at the October 2010 clinics were evaluated by veterinarians for breeding soundness via physical exams and actual semen collection and evaluation.

Following the completion of the exam, which took 12 to 15 minutes, the bulls were classified as satisfactory potential breeders, failed or deferred.

The deferred bulls should be rechecked before turnout to determine if a problem was corrected. The recheck is normally done in 2 to 4 weeks.

“The failed bulls have major problems such as very small testicles or no sperm. Even bulls that are not satisfactory may breed and settle a few cows, but they are a risk,” said Cole.

About one-third of the bulls were tested for trichomoniasis. Lab results have not been received so it is no known if there were any positives.

Pfizer Genetics cooperated with the clinics and offered their genetic testing for feed efficiency, marbling and tenderness. Several bulls had tail hair samples collected for that purpose.

Forty different owners brought bulls in for exams this fall, according to Cole.

In addition to the BSE, each bull was vaccinated and given a dewormer. The average age of the 95 bulls was 3.3 years with the youngest one 11 months old and the oldest was 9 years.

“Bull fertility tends to lessen with age so it’s especially important to check older bulls before turnout time,” said Cole.

A body condition score was given to each bull. The average was a 6.1 which indicates most of the bulls were in acceptable shape with no ribs showing.

“The thinnest bulls scored a 5.0 which means there was some of the ribs visible but otherwise they were thrifty,” said Cole.

The breeds of the bulls were quite variable with 34 percent Angus, 12.6 percent Red Angus, 8.4 percent Simmental and 7.4 percent Hereford. Composite breeds made up 17 percent of those examined with the Angus-Simmental the most prevalent.

Cooperating veterinarians included Drs. Voyd Brown, Cassville, Harvey Kent, Billings, Chuck Dake, Miller and Mike Bloss, Aurora.

For more information on this or future clinics, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313. end_mark