By Clint Thompson
Cattle producers need to have their bulls checked by a trained veterinarian every year to ensure optimum reproductive efficiency and production, says Lee Jones, University of Georgia Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine in Tifton, Georgia.
“It’s possible that some of these sub-fertile bulls are costing farmers anywhere between $1,500 and $2,000 in just lost production. That’s only on 25 to 30 cows. Some herds have three to four times that number, and the losses get substantial,” Jones said.
Jones recommends that farmers need to have their bulls tested by a trained vet in breeding soundness evaluation. The bulls need to undergo a physical, reproductive examination and produce a semen sample that’s tested for good motility and good morphology.
He emphasizes the importance of having bulls checked every year.
“We’re working on the bull side of reproductive efficiency in cowherds. We want to have those bulls checked every year to make sure they’re capable of breeding cows,” Jones said. “If they have reproductive problems, we want to make sure (the ranchers are) looking at the bulls first to see, ‘Is my bull contributing to a lack of reproduction or loss of reproduction and then what can I do annually to prevent those problems? Or make sure that I’ve got good bulls, or if I find out I’ve got bad bulls, find out in time to replace those bulls with a bull that can get the job done.”
Jones estimates that only 1 out of 5 farmers check their bulls every year. The problem is 1 out of every 8 or 10 bulls is what Jones would classify as sub-fertile.
“When a bull breeds a cow, if he misses her, that’s 21 days. If we figure that a calf grows two pounds per day in 21 days, that’s a loss of at least 40 pounds per calf. At $1.50, that’s $60 every time a bull misses a cow. This can add up in a hurry if I’ve got a pasture with only one bull in it and he’s missing cows,” Jones said. “I need to find that out as quick as possible to cut my losses.”