Bull Breeding Soundness Clinics Find 14.5% of Bulls Unsatisfactory as Potential Breeders

May 7, 2015 07:57 AM
Bull Breeding Soundness Clinics Find 14.5% of Bulls Unsatisfactory as Potential Breeders

The 2015 spring bull breeding soundness clinics found 14.5 percent of the screened bulls to be unsatisfactory as potential breeders to be placed in with cows or heifers this spring. A total of 235 bulls were examined during the five days of the clinics.

"Veterinarians classify the bulls as either satisfactory potential breeders, unsatisfactory or defer them for a second exam in 2 to 4 weeks if problems are found that should clear up in that time," said Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Bulls that failed had significant problems such as small testicles, lameness, severe frostbite of the prepuce, only one testicle or a very low percent of normal sperm in that day's collection. A couple of bulls also had serious feet and leg problems that caused their rejection.


"As usual the clinics reached a wide cross-section of beef cow-calf operations. There were 55 firms represented from eight counties," said Cole.

The dominant breed with 51 percent of the bulls was Angus. A distant second in numbers was Red Angus with 10.6 percent. Charolais had 7.2 percent of the bulls. All together there were 19 breeds and crosses represented.

The average age of the group was 2.9 years with a range from 12 months to 10 years.

The average weight of the bulls weighed was 1461 pounds with a range of 750 to 2424 pounds.

A body condition score on the 1 to 9 scale was given with 1's extremely thin and 9's being obese. The average was 5.9 with a range from 3.5 to 7.

"A desirable score at turnout time is a 6," said Cole.


A structural soundness score was also assigned on a 1 to 10 scale. The average was 5.4 and the range was 2 up to 7. Bulls in the 6-7 range are very structurally correct with excellent mobility.

"Those receiving 5 scores have minor hoof problems such as slightly long toes, uneven hooves and some tendency towards curved toes either in front or behind that may require corrective hoof trimming from time to time," said Cole.

According to Cole, bulls scoring 4 and below have significant toe growth, swollen hocks, uneasy movement, developing corns between their toes and would not be expected to breed even a normal number of females in a 60 or so day breeding season.

"The one breeding soundness feature that is not evaluated at the clinics is libido. That trait must be observed in the breeding pasture early in the breeding season. This is critical with young bulls that are being used for the first time," said Cole.

During the clinics the bulls were routinely treated for internal and external parasites, given their booster vaccinations and some were tested for trichomoniasis.

A few bulls had blood samples collected for DNA genomic testing. Zoetis Inc. represented by Ed Trotter, Springfield cooperated in the above testing and provided the products.


Cooperating veterinarians in the clinics were: Voyd Brown, Cassville, Chuck Dake, Miller, Mike Bloss, Aurora, Amber Heidlage, Emily Rowe and Harold Haskins, Diamond.

The overall program is coordinated by University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, Eldon Cole, Mt. Vernon. The clinic concept began in 2005 and since then 2,189 bulls have been examined with an overall unsatisfactory rate of 11.2 percent.

Source: University of Missouri Extension

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