Breeding Soundness Exams Are Valuable For All Bulls

Bulls should be thoroughly evaluated before each breeding season, so only those bulls that are able to get a high percentage of exposed cows pregnant in a short period of time are turned out into the breeding pasture this spring, advises Bob Larson, DVM, PhD, Beef Cattle Institute, Kansas State University.
What causes a young bull to fail a breeding soundness examination often differs, however, from why an older bull would fail the exam.

“Typically, young bulls between one and two years of age are purchased after they have passed a breeding soundness examination that includes a systematic examination of their feet, legs, penis and prepuce, testicles, and other reproductive organs, measurement of scrotal circumference, and microscopic examination of a semen sample,” Larson says. “Some young bulls, either because of their age, their nutritional management, or their individual genetic differences are unlikely to achieve desired mating efficiency.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Larson says mature bulls that were successful breeders the previous breeding season may experience decreased fertility that can be identified by a breeding soundness examination. “Injuries, illness, and age-related changes can affect the testicles, feet and legs, or reproductive tract of previously fertile bulls making them unlikely to successfully breed the number of cows needed to result in high reproductive efficiency,” he explains.

Larson, along with Jennifer Koziol, DVM, MS, DACT, Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, headlined a free, one-hour webinar at 7 p.m. Central on March 9 on how to implement and use BSEs. The program offers veterinarians 1 hour of RACE credit, which is still available by watching the webinar on demand (see below) and following the directions for applying for credit.



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