Rayner Reckons

Sep 18

Is your bull ready to work?

Posted on Friday, September 18, 2015

The 2015 bull selling season is going to be remembered for the record prices on offer for sires.  This year the Shorthorn breed broke their on farm average price twice in two days.  While the Angus breed saw a new record price for a bull sold for $150,000 while the average at the same sale set a new all breed average at $14, 876! 

With these amazing prices there's little doubt that producers are thinking a lot about bulls and this years investments.  However I reckon its important not to overlook the bulls that you already have on farm, and spend some time making sure the ones you have are ready to work!  With joining time rapidly approaching for breeders who aim to calve in spring next year, its time to check all your bulls over and make sure they are ready to work.

Its pretty important that you bring your bulls up into the yards and spend some time giving them all a complete check over.  Key areas to assess are:

* His eyes and mouth.  You need to be check that there are no injuries or inflammations around his eyes.  His teeth need to be sound

* His sheath and testicles. Put him in the crush and with the vet gate shut, so you can't be kicked!  When it is shut securely, check both testicles and make sure there are no swelling or unusual bumps, or that the testes are not soft and spongy.  If they are, your bull may be sub-fertile and you should avoid using him!

* Look at his sheath and penis and make sure there is no swelling, unusual appearances or damage.  Again if there is, your bull may not want to join cows, and he shouldn't be used.

Its important to check your records and make sure his vaccinations for vibrio are up to date.  If he needs a booster its best to do it before joining, so a pre joining inspection is a good time for this to happen.

I reckon the other key thing to do is to make the bull walk in front of you.  You need to see that he walks without any sign of lameness or stiffness. I find its much easier to check for that by making your bull walk briskly across a yard.  So you need to watch him from the side and from behind.  You will be looking for stiffness, or favouring a leg or unusual gait. 

Remember if he has trouble walking, the demands of a joining program will test any injury out.  Its likely a sore bull will be less willing to work and so you could have some issues with low conception rates as a result.

If you are using a number of bulls in joining mobs, the time joining mobs could be established now if you have the paddock room to do this.  The bulls will take a couple of weeks to sort out their new pecking order.  So if you can get that done before joining, then the bulls are more likely to get straight to work!

As a producer who might chose to do that, try and use paddocks big enough that they can get away from each other and not become injured fighting!

For producers who feel thats not an option, just remember that your bulls will spend some time at joining establishing a pecking group. So when you do put bulls out, think about matching them for size and number.  The recommended number is 3% bulls to cows.  

By checking your bulls now, I reckon you can have some time up your sleeve to plan out your joining program.  Remember joining should normally be 9 - 12 weeks, so it isn't a long time and you want to make every day count!  If a bull isn't up to the job, you need to know now so you can find a replacement or re plan a work program for the bulls that are fit and ready to work.

Oct 07

Is your bull ready to work?

Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013

For producers who run spring calving herds the annual joining period is not far away. Joining is a significant event in the annual cattle production calendar.  To ensure its a successful event, I reckon its important to do some preparation.

Ensuring your bulls are fit and ready to work is essential.  Even if you have only recently purchased your bull, you should still bring him in and put him through a check.

You should be looking for signs of injury or lameness. Remember if your bull has trouble walking, he will be less willing to search out and join cows.

A complete physical check includes looking at eyes, teeth, sheath, pizzle, testicles and feet.  Its definitely worth restraining the bull in a crush and checking the testicles feel firm and sound.

Checking your bulls at least a month before joining will ensure your bulls are physically ready to work. Its important to ensure your bull is in a sufficient Fat Score to undertake joining. The ideal Fat Score for bulls is a Fat Score 2.5 to 3.5

Be prepared for bulls to lose condition during joining, so its important not to have bulls below a Fat Score 2.5 at the start of joining.  Below this bulls tend to have less energy and willingness to work which can impact on a successful joining season.  

Over a Fat Score 3.5 and bulls will lay fat around the testicles which can cause fertility issues.  I often find fat bulls tend to be much more lazy and less inclined to work, particularly as the days get hotter during the late spring, early summer joining time.   

As well as checking your bulls, consider the size of your joining mobs. Most bulls could be joined at around 3% of the number of cows.  Try to have mobs which allow the right number of bulls.

When you do put your bulls out, think about which bulls will go out to work with each other.  The last thing you need is to have bulls fighting each other and not working.  

I reckon taking the time to do some pre planning for joining, inspecting your bulls and drafting up your joining mobs will let you approach and manage joining with much more confidence.  

If you do need to replace a bull before joining, at the very least a month gives you a chance to contact your bull supplier if you need a replacement.  Or it allows you to find alternatives such as reworking joining mobs or even deciding which paddocks could be used for joining to suit your adjusted team of bulls.

Don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like a hand or a second opinion when you are assessing your bulls for the season ahead. I'll be very happy to give you a hand to check your bulls and help put some plans for a successful joining season in place.


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