In today’s economy your producer clients are looking to save money, reduce costs and make smart economic decisions. Conducting bull breeding soundness exams (BSEs) is still one of the most important ways you can help your clients make wise decisions for their breeding herds.
T.J. Barclay, DVM, Hereford Veterinary Clinic, Hereford, Texas, hasn’t seen clients pull back on their breeding soundness exams because of the economic situation yet, but he says it may happen. “If so, I would ask them to think about the cost of BSEs versus the cost of a poor pregnancy rate due to an infertile bull,” he says.
In times of economic stress, the BSE is more important than ever for herd profitability, adds Dwight Wolfe, DVM, Dipl. ACT, Auburn University. “The goal of the BSE is to identify those bulls that have a high likelihood of getting a significant percentage of healthy cows pregnant in a limited breeding season. Failure to use bulls that are found to be satisfactory potential breeders may reduce first-service conception rates, thereby spreading out calving distribution which ultimately results in less pounds of calf produced.” Coupled with the high cost of maintaining a brood cow, reduced calving percentage of delayed calving with a prolonged calving season can prove economically devastating for breeders.
Other factors can reduce or delay BSEs. Jessica Laurin, DVM, Animal Health Center of Marion County, Marion, Kan., tends to see the number of BSEs influenced by weather and inconvenience issues. “If the weather is poor, then producers do not like to handle the bulls to bring them in for bull testing,” she says. “If they don’t have a handling facility or proper trailers then they tend to bring bulls in less for exams. Sometimes due to weather, they put off bringing bulls in to the point that they end up going straight to pasture instead of getting an appointment to bring them in.”
Laurin says she fails bulls more in February and March than April or May because nutrition and environment influences later sperm production. “A severe winter can depress the BSE in March,” she explains. “The BSE improves by May, and producers understand that, so they tend to put off the BSE, which unfortunately puts them behind the spring bull sales.”
Laurin has also been pushing for more BSEs done at the end of the breeding season. “If a bull tests bad at the end of season, the producer is more encouraged to get the pregnancy testing done more promptly,” she notes. “It can pick out the breeding injuries that the producer has overlooked, and allows for time to correct an issue. It also is more important for the bull that gets used for both fall and spring calving groups.”