Early in October, four veterinary clinics in southwest Missouri devoted at least one day to a special bull breeding soundness clinic according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
During the clinics, 179 bulls were given a thorough exam on their accessory sex glands, scrotal size, penile examination, structural soundness and of course semen evaluation.
Of those examined, 157 bulls were given a passing grade of satisfactory potential breeder while 22 were failed or deferred for a second test if the owners felt it worthwhile.
The passing rate 87.7% fell right in line with the long-time average rate since the special clinics began in 2005.
"The clinics helped prove what we know to be true: about one in ten bulls is unlikely to go in the breeding pasture and settle all the females in a 60-day, or so breeding season," said Cole.
According to Cole, the bulls that didn't pass may not have been sterile but would likely string out the fall-2015 calf crop.
"More young bulls were tested this fall and that likely caused the results to be a bit worse than they might have been. A few of the bulls were under 12 months of age and will be retested as they mature a bit more. Hopefully several of those will fare better with a bit more age on them," said Cole.
The unsatisfactory bulls had a variety of problems such as a low percentage of normal sperm, small testicles, leg or hoof injuries and infection of the secondary sex glands.
No bulls were rejected for long or uneven toes but 16 of the 179 head had that problem.
"The toe concerns will depend on size of pasture, number of females, age of the bull and severity of the problem. The veterinarians felt a few needed hoof trimming before they were turned out," said Cole.
Other items to note from the clinics include the following facts: 37.4% of the bulls tested were Angus; a total of 19 different breeds or crosses were examined; 10 head of older bulls were tested for trichomoniasis; 144 bulls were weighed at the clinics with an average weight of 1495 pounds; and bull ages varied form 11 months up to 8 years.
The clinics are a cooperative effort of the veterinarians, Zoetis (which provided dewormer and vaccines) and University of Missouri Extension.
"The effort focuses attention on the importance of having a complete exam run on the bull battery about one month prior to turnout time. The cost of the test varies but is nominal when the cost of a bull this year is considered. The BSE exam is good insurance for a well-bunched calf crop next fall," said Cole.
For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102, Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at (417) 345-7551, Dr. Patrick Davis in Cedar County at (417) 276-3313 or Logan Wallace in Howell County at (417) 256-2391.
Source: University of Missouri Extension