The breeding season for fall-born calves begins in November which means October is a good time to evaluate bulls for breeding soundness.
"October is also a popular time to wean the spring calf crop and prepare them for marketing and wintering. That means it is a busy time of cattle working so don't forget the bull," said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
To make bull breeding soundness checks more convenient for the veterinarian and cattle owner a series of clinics have been held since 2005. The clinics are held at the veterinarian's clinic. On these days, the veterinarians can focus on testing without distraction from other calls.
The breeding soundness exam clinics offer more than just a semen check. Bulls are examined inside and out, from heat to toe for conditions that could impair their ability to breed and settle cows and heifers.
"Data over the last ten years from the clinics show between 10 and 15 percent of the bulls tested are considered unsatisfactory for breeding," said Cole.
Some of the bulls may not pass that day but could in three or four weeks. This is often the case on bulls under 14 months of age.
Besides the breeding soundness exam, the bulls are boostered for their vaccinations and treated for internal and external parasites.
Non-virgin bulls may be tested for trichomoniasis and all may be genomic tested for various traits. These tests all do have an additional charge over the basic exam.
"The one item that isn't tested for is libido. Owners should observe the bulls closely early in the breeding season or even before turnout to determine if the bull can physically service a cow or heifer. A bull might score very high on all semen traits but if he cannot or doesn't want to breed a female, you need to start looking for a replacement," said Cole.
The following schedule for the clinics has been established:
- October 7 - Barry County Veterinary Service, Cassville, call 417-847-2677.
- October 13 and 14 - Dake Veterinary Clinic, Miller, call 417-452-3301.
- October 20 - Animal Clinic of Diamond, Diamond, call 417-325-4136.
- October 22 - Countryside Animal Clinic, Aurora, call 414-678-4011.
Call to make an appointment.
Cole will be at the clinics to visit about body condition scoring, soundness scores, use of Expected Progeny Difference (EPD) in sire selection, upcoming bull sales and bull management.
Source: University of Missouri Extension