Checking bulls for breeding soundness
Checking a bull for breeding soundness in the months before breeding season can save money and aggravation, says Brett Barham, Extension livestock specialist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
"The breeding soundness evaluation is a practical method to identify bulls with less-than-satisfactory breeding potential," Barham said. "With margins so narrow, producers can't afford to use a bull that's not a satisfactory breeder."
Barham said "the evaluation should be conducted on every bull at least 30 to 60 days before each breeding season to allow enough time to obtain replacements."
The first step is to find a local veterinarian who can perform the evaluation.
During the evaluation, the examiner will look at the bull's physical characteristics.
"Most structural faults, such as sickle hocks and post legs, should be discriminated since they are heritable and lead to lameness of the individual and will impair his willingness or ability to travel," he said. "The bull's ability to eat, see and smell properly is also a consideration."
Other physical factors such as muscling, body condition and body size measurements such as hip height, frame score and weight are also evaluated.
"While these traits usually do not result in a bull being classified as unsatisfactory, they may be may be a factor in his selection for breeding purposes," Barham said.
Other factors that require evaluation are soundness in the bull's reproductive structure and activity and shape of the bull's sperm.
A breeding soundness clinic is set for April 21 at the Livestock and Forestry Research station in Batesville. There is no registration fee, however, there is a $35 fee for collecting the bulls, vaccination and de-worming and an optional fee of $45 for a trichomoniasis test.
Interested producers can call 870-793-7432 to set up an appointment and for more information. Testing slots begin at 9:30 a.m. and run through 4 p.m. If more than 60 bulls are set for an appointment, the clinic may expand to two days.
For more information about evaluating bulls for breeding soundness, contact your county Extension and/or see the fact sheet "Breeding Soundness Evaluation for Beef and Dairy Bulls," www.uaex.edu/Other_Areas/publications/PDF/FSA-3046.pdf.
Information on breeding is also available in the Arkansas Purebred E-news, available online at www.aragriculture.org/News/purebred_enews/2010/vol3no1.htm.