Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Bull Soundness Clinics Find 9.8% of Bulls are not Satisfactory Breeders

Contact: Eldon Cole, livestock specialist
Headquartered in Lawrence County
Tel: (417) 466-3102

MT. VERNON, Mo. -- The week of Oct. 7 saw 122 beef bulls examined for breeding soundness at special clinics at Cassville, Diamond, Miller and Aurora.  Twelve bulls, or 9.8 percent, did not meet the minimum specifications for a satisfactory potential breeder.

Since those clinics began in 2005, the average loss of bulls has been 10.4 percent on 1605 examined according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Testing bulls for breeding soundness is recommended ahead of each breeding season. Even though a high percentage of these bulls were in service from April through July, problems can arise that compromises their ability to settle cows or heifers in November,” said Cole.

The reasons the 12 bulls were found unfit included:  sperm abnormalities, the predominant cause, as well as small scrotum, soft testicles, injured prepuce and blood in the semen sample resulting from an injury.

Four bulls will be given another chance as their veterinarian was unable to collect a semen sample that day.

All bulls were scored for body condition (BCS) and structural soundness.  The average BCS was 5.8 with a range from 4 (thin) to 7.5 (fleshy).  Soundness is scored on a 1 (very unsound) to a 9 (perfect structure regarding hooves, legs and mobility).  The bulls averaged 5.5 with the range going from 1 to 7.  Common faults were corkscrew and grown out rear toes, long curved front hooves, puffy hocks, corns between toes and limping.  Fifteen of the bulls had pinkeye scars, but only one bull appeared to have vision problems.

The average age of the 122 bulls was 2.7 years.  The oldest bull was 9 years with a number of 12 to 18 month old bulls tested.  Twenty-six of the older bulls were tested for trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease.

Since these special clinics began in 2005, the Angus breed has had the largest number of bulls tested and that held true this fall with 42 head (34 percent) of the bulls from that breed.  The next ranking breeds were Hereford and Simmental/Angus composites with 20 and 15 head respectively.

“The clinics serve as a reminder to cow herd owners that checking their bulls is a management practice that can help bunch the next season’s calf crop.  You never know when you might be turning out that one bull in ten that strings out your next year’s set of calves.  When you’ve invested $2,000 to $5,000 or more on a bull it’s important to give him at least an annual physical,” said Cole.

The BSE clinics are coordinated by University of Missouri Extension with cooperation from Zoetis and local veterinarians.

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.


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