Bull Management: After the Breeding Season
Greetings again from North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Randolph County! After the breeding season, bulls become a necessary evil or an unwelcome visitor. Many like to forget about their bulls, until it’s time for them to work again. While it is true that bulls post-breeding don’t require as much management, planning and care can help insure the bull’s costs will be in reason and that they will be ready for the next breeding season.
Goals for the period of non-breeding for the bulls should be: keep feed costs at a practical minimum, keep the bulls in moderate condition, minimize chance of injuries, and allow growth of young bulls.
As bulls come out of the breeding season, they should first be body condition scored, then sorted in one of three ways.
1. Mature bulls in good condition that won’t require any special care.
2. Young bulls that are still growing and need higher quality feed or bulls that are extremely thin or need special care for other reasons.
3. Old or crippled bulls that have completed their productive years and need to go.
All bulls should have access to a quality mineral mix. Phosphorous is an important mineral that is not found in adequate amounts in dry or harvested forage. Vitamin A is also important for reproduction and can be found in green, growing forage or high-quality hay. Mature bulls in good condition can exist well on an essentially all-roughage diet. A good rule of thumb to remember is 2% of their body weight in dry feed per day.
Yearlings are different than mature bulls, and therefore need some extra attention. Yearlings should be left with the cowherd 60 days or less. Beyond that, their condition might drop off dramatically that it could affect future growth. These bulls are still developing rapidly, in addition to replacing the condition they lost in the breeding season. They should be placed on the best available forage. Their supplemental feeding can be equated to a program for bred yearling heifers. Extra care given to bulls after the breeding season will result in a stronger mature bull in years to come.
Bull pastures should be somewhat isolated from the cowherd. Bulls kept away from cows will not be as aggressive and will fight less, reducing chance of injury. A pasture with adequate space will help promote exercise and reduce confrontations. As with all pastures, the bull pasture should have protection from weather stressors.
Bulls in the off-season do not require extensive management. But, by following some basic management practices, they can be healthy and ready for many breeding seasons to come!
If you have any questions or concerns, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-318-6000
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