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Is your bull battery ready for spring joining?

We’ve had a big month of bull testing and it’s not over yet!

Did you know the average working life of bulls in southern Australia is 2.5 years?

As much as it is disheartening, it also truly emphasises how critical sourcing and actively managing for physically sound, fertile bulls is to our farming businesses.

A pre-joining BBSE (bull breeding sounding evaluation) includes physical soundness, internal exam, scrotal circumference & palpation, penis extrusion and crush-side microscopic semen evaluation. It helps identify unsound bulls, and rank fertility in sound bulls to optimise joining team allocation. This is becoming even more important as joining periods trend shorter with lower bull:cow ratios.

The key concerns we see repeatedly:

  • Bulls need to be in good working condition, commencing joining at no less then 3.5/5 BCS and ideally not dropping below 3/5 throughout joining. Poorer bulls may lack functional reserve or semen quality. Overfat bulls are a significant physical breakdown risk.

  • Lameness is the leading cause of transient bull inactivity during joining. Identify and treat lameness early. Mildly lame bulls pose a risk of injuring themselves permanently if allowed to continually work and should be temporally removed until sound again.

  • Broken penis is a severe injury that needs immediate sexual rest and medical treatment. Prognosis can be poor based on severity.

  • Don’t forget annual pre-joining “Vibrovax” booster vaccination. There is more vibrio in southern Australia then ever and we need to actively prevent it in our herds. Take the opportunity to drench and give a 7in1 booster at the same time.

Finally, remember that in an average 12 week joining, each individual cow has a maximum of 4, 12 hour windows of standing heat (and less, if she calved late, is slow to cycle or looses an early conceptus). So, joining bulls must be continually monitored for soundness and injury. Take note of pecking order and dominance. If you encounter problems, the sooner they are addressed the better the outcome, both in cow pregnancy rates and bull longevity in your breeding herd.


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