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Is your Stock Bull ready?

03 April 2018
Type Media Article

By Seán Doorley, Beef & Sheep Adviser, Longford Town

Every year we hear more and more farmers telling us that they have just found out their bull is not working, cows are empty and where to now? One solution is to be proactive. So at least two months before the breeding season give your bull his annual NCT. Four areas you need to examine to have your bull ready are;

1. Feeding

Your bull should be in good condition before being let out with cows. He needs to be fit but not over-fat. If you have purchased a young bull you should reduce down concentrate feeding slowly.

2. Fertility

It is estimated that twenty five percent of stock bulls are sub-fertile. Ahead of the breeding season have your bull fertility tested to get an estimate his sperm count. Its cost is very low if you compare it to carrying empty cows for the summer and results are available to you before the technician leave the yard.

3. Health

If you have bought a bull find out from the seller what treatments he has got.  A blood test might be useful to check for BVD, IBR, Johnes Disease and Leptospirosis. If vaccinating or treating for parasite these should be administered at least six to eight weeks in advance of the breeding season as they could lead to reduced fertility. Consult your vet for advise on the health of the bull. Remember a young bull in his first season should serve no more than 20 cows.

4. Feet

Physically, your bull should have good legs and feet. Over the winter he should be in a good size pen or a dry paddock so he can get plenty of exercise to build endurance for the busy three month period ahead. A good idea is to hire a qualified hoof trimmer if you are in doubt about your bull’s feet. Good feet is important to insure a bull maintains a strong libido for the season.

Once the breeding season starts have a notebook with you when checking cows. In the first few days observe that the bull in mounting properly. Keeping a record of cows that you see being served early in the breeding season will give you a good idea if your bull is working well. If a large number of your cows are repeating, you need to take action to find out what is wrong. You must be prepared to start using AI or if you have a second bull with another group of cows, he may be utilised to serve more cows.

Remember you need to act early to get the bull ready for breeding season. The bull is half the herd so look after him!!

Teagasc provides a Local Advisory and Education service to farmers. They have offices based in Roscommon Town  (Tel: 090 6626166), Longford Town (Tel: 043 3341021) and Castlerea (Tel: 094 9620160). You can find us on Facebook @Teagascroscommonlongford.