Farm Talk


March 28, 2013

Breeding soundness of bulls should involve Trich test

Parsons, Kansas — One of the most important factors in determining the profitability of a beef herd is the number of calves weaned per cow exposed.

A breeding soundness evaluation of bulls ensures that bulls are capable of settling cows. The ideal time for your veterinarian to conduct an evaluation is about ninety days prior to the start of the breeding season, which for many spring calving herds in our area is now.

In addition to passing a breeding soundness evaluation bulls also need to be in a body condition score of about 6.0 (smooth, no ribs or vertebrae visible) prior to turnout as well. Bulls that are too thin may not have the necessary energy and drive to cover all females that are in heat. Bulls that are on diets low in protein and vitamin A may also have decreased sperm production.

Additional feed should be provided to make sure that bulls are in adequate, but not excessive, body condition at the time of bull turnout.

Also, the bulls’ conformation and potential ability to travel over the terrain and find females in heat should be evaluated. If feet or leg problems exist, affected bulls should be examined closely to determine if the problem is temporary or something that will affect their ability to travel. If the problem has potential long-term consequences, plans should be made to replace bull not up to capable of settling cows.

Preferably 90 days prior to bull turnout, all bulls should be vaccinated to match the cows in the herd (with the obvious exception being no brucellosis [Bangs] vaccine!). This timing will reduce the chance that any vaccines will affect the production of sperm, which begins 61 days prior to the time the sperm is completely matured.

Around 60 days prior to bull turnout, bulls should be evaluated for breeding soundness by your veterinarian. The exam should consist of a physical exam including evaluating the general body condition, feet, legs, eyes and the teeth on older bulls. Assuming the bull passes his physical exam, the reproductive tract should be examined next, including the penis, prepuce and internal reproductive organs which can only be evaluated by rectal examination. Assuming the bull passes the reproductive tract exam, a semen sample should then be collected for an on-site microscopic evaluation. The semen evaluation allows the veterinarian to check the volume, concentration, motility and morphology of the individual sperm cells.

At any step of the BSE process, a bull may be failed or designated for a retest because there is something detected that suggests he might not be a satisfactory potential breeder. In studies with large numbers of bulls, ten percent of mature bulls tested fail this exam.

A relatively new problem that should be tested for on bulls that have previously bred cows it a test for trichomoniasis (Trich). Do this while the bull is still in the chute but after the semen evaluation has been completed and the bull has passed the total BSE..

Trich testing is something new that should be considered for all “experienced”, non-virgin bulls. Virgin bulls that have never been exposed to a breeding-age female will not be carrying this organism and do not need to be tested. However, “experienced” or non-virgin bulls of any age may potentially be carriers of Trich.

Trich has been diagnosed sporadically through the years by the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab-oratory, but the disease has been increasingly diagnosed during recent years. More bull owners and sellers have started testing for Trich since the new import regulations were put in place in September, 2010, and several more herds have recently had Trich diagnosed after experiencing infertility problems and low calf crop percentages.

Some herds have been spared the devastating effects of Trich by incorporating testing for this sexually-transmitted disease at the time of routine BSE testing of their experienced bulls.

Talk with your veterinarian about the risk factors you face that might make Trich testing a good thing for your bulls this year. It is always better to find any positive bulls on pre-breeding evaluations than finding out they had it after the breeding season ended!

For information about this and other livestock and forage topics contact the K–State Research & Extension, Wildcat District office at (620) 784-5337 or email me at Check out our webpage www.wi for information about the other services available through Wildcat Extension District. £

Text Only
  • rib_roast.jpg Beef, cattle prices up across the board

    The first quarter of 2014 saw unprecedented prices for all classes of cattle and beef. Retail beef prices moved sharply higher in March for both Choice and All Fresh beef.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stockers015.jpg Pressure builds on cattle prices

    With boxed beef prices down sharply from the second rollercoaster high of the year, fed cattle prices may have peaked seasonally.  
    Fed prices are currently holding mostly steady near $150/cwt. but will likely decrease into May as fed cattle marketings increase seasonally. Cattle slaughter typically increases from April through May to seasonal peaks in June.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • calving-season_ksu.jpg Shortening breeding and calving seasons

    Calves born in the first 21 days of the calving season are often the heaviest in their contemporary group at weaning, and that advantage often carries through to harvest, if the producer retains ownership.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • heifers-peel-052_fixed.jpg Late spring adds to cattle challenges

    A myriad of factors are at work in cattle and beef markets now. Spring has arrived according to the calendar but it isn’t obvious yet in many parts of the country. Cold weather continues to delay grass green-up in many regions in a fashion that is reminiscent of last year.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Beef Talk: Are your cows ready to rebreed?

    The question of the day: Are the cows ready to breed? I hope the nutritional plan is in place and the cows are doing fine. Although nutritional adjustments can be made if needed, precalving should be a time of contentment for the cow, so all she needs to do is enjoy late-term pregnancy.

    March 25, 2014

  • How much is a good bull worth?

    I often get the question “How much should I pay for a bull?” My first answer is “Whatever the market will bear.”

    March 18, 2014

  • cull-cows.jpg Slaughter cow market following seasonal pattern — only more so

    Boning cow prices in Oklahoma City were reported at just over $102/cwt. in the first week of March. This level suggests that March slaughter cow prices will exhibit a more than seasonal price increase.

    March 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hollis_ksu.jpg Anaplasmosis a stealthy profit-robber

    For a disease that’s not contagious, anaplasmosis sure gets around.
    Speaking to a whole passle of beef producers at last week’s Animal Health Day in Independence, Kan., K-State Veterinarian Larry Hollis urged area cattlemen to get the costly disease in their sights.

    March 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Livestock indemnity program retro-funded to Oct., 2011

    USDA announced it will expedite the implementation of its livestock disaster assistance program and will begin accepting applications on or near April 15.

    February 25, 2014

  • charherfcow.jpg Ark. cattle numbers up despite trend

    Arkansas cattle numbers are recovering nearly two years after the start of a drought that caused $128 million damage to the state’s beef industry, while national numbers plummet to their lowest levels in more than 60 years.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Seasonal Content