MT. VERNON, Mo. — If it is March, it is time to have your bull or bulls checked for breeding soundness.
“We recommend having bulls examined one month to six weeks ahead of bull turnout time. In case there’s a problem with a bull that doesn’t pass, you’ll have time to search for a replacement,” said Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Since bull soundness clinics began in 2005, just over 4,000 bulls have gone through the program, and on average, about 10% of the bulls have not checked out as satisfactory potential breeders.
“This is a big problem if you have a one-bull cow herd,” said Cole.
Even if a producer runs two or more bulls with the cowherd, sometimes the dominant bull may have reduced fertility and he will string next year’s calf crop out.
“So it’s just a bit of an insurance policy to check your bulls ahead of the breeding season to have a well-bunched calf crop,” said Cole.
A breeding soundness exam, as performed at these clinics and with most veterinarians, involves more than semen collection and viewing it under a microscope. Also included are checking the bull’s accessory sex glands by palpation, measuring the scrotal circumference and checking the penis and prepuce for injuries. Penile warts may even be a problem, along with frostbite or freezing injuries.
During the exams, body condition scores are placed on each bull along with soundness scores for mobility, feet and legs.
The one trait not evaluated is libido. Libido evaluation can be checked by observing a bull with an estrous female for five minutes or so.
“The more practical method is to observe a bull with the herd at the start of the breeding season,” said Cole.
The clinics below cooperate with Zoetis and University of Missouri Extension livestock specialists. Specialists help with body condition and soundness scoring, and Zoetis helps by providing products for booster vaccinations and parasite control.
Bulls may be genomic tested as well as trichomoniasis tested for an added fee.
The following is the schedule for the specials. Contact your veterinarians to arrange a date to check your bulls either at their clinic or on your farm.
March 2: Barry County Vet Service, Cassville, at 417-847-2677.
March 12: Animal Clinic of Diamond, at 417-325-4136.
March 19 and 26: Dake Veterinary Clinic, Miller, at 417-452-3301.
March 23: Countryside Animal Clinic, Aurora, at 417-678-4011.
For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock field specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Lawrence County, 417-466-3102; Andy McCorkill in Dallas County at 417-345-7551; Elizabeth Picking in Howell County at 417-256-2391 or Dr. Patrick Davis in Cedar County at 417-276-3313.
— David Burton, University of Missouri Extension
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