Time for bull check-ups
This period of late winter to early spring brings a lot of activity to cow/calf operations.
“Most of the producers are busy with calving and hay feeding during this time of year,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Another chore that may not receive the attention that calving and feeding does is bull management.
Bull management tips
“If the 2011 calving season is going to be a success, prepping the bull battery this spring is vital,” said Cole. “There are three management tips that should be considered.”
First, if the herd also calves in the fall, the bulls should be separated from the fall cows and brought in and fed up to a body condition score of 5.5 to 6.5.
Second, a veterinarian should give them a breeding soundness exam (BSE) at least 30 days before turnout for the next breeding season.
Bull soundness exam
University of Missouri (MU) Extension works with several veterinary clinics in Barry, Taney and Lawrence counties to focus attention on the importance of the BSE portion of bull management.
Special BSE clinics are going to be held as follows: March 8 at Barry County Vet Services, Cassville, Dr. Voyd Brown; March 10 at Dake Veterinary Clinic, Miller, Dr. Chuck Dake; March 11 and 12 at Countryside Animal Clinic, Aurora, Dr. Mike Bloss; and March 17 at Rick Turner Farm, Taneyville, Dr. Randall Spragg. Contact the veterinary clinics in advance to schedule an appointment.
This is the sixth year MU Extension has hosted the BSE clinics. During that time, 780 bulls have been checked and 10 percent have either failed to be satisfactory potential breeders or else were deferred for a re-test.
“This spring, the pass rate could even run lower due to the extremely cold, damp winter. Frostbite to the scrotum is one problem to definitely watch for,” said Cole.
The third management tip, depending on the outcome of the BSE and an owner’s genetic plans for the herd, may mean going bull shopping.
“Bull shopping can be an agonizing experience or an optimistic, building-forthe-future, enjoyable activity. The important points to consider are to know what your herd needs to complement any weaknesses, don’t be in a hurry, and give yourself plenty of time to study data before going to a sale or breeder’s farm,” said Cole.
For more information on caring for beef bulls ahead of turnout, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, 417/466-3102; Gary Naylor in Dallas County, 417/345-7551; and Dona Goede in Cedar County, 417/276-3313.
— Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension
“If the 2011 calving season is going to be a success, prepping the bull battery this spring is vital.”