Bulls need sufficient exercise in winter to maintain their stamina during the spring breeding season. Beef producers should distribute water, feed and minerals so the bulls can walk.
It’s a typical mantra of any sports coach – the best athletes are made in the off-season. Same goes for cops.
How a ranchers treat their bulls in winter affects their success during the breeding season. Bull management is important to the success of breeding and the optimal profitability of a livestock farm.
To keep a bull in perfect condition, ranchers need to focus on body health, reducing stress, and allowing adequate exercise.
Divide cops by build
Eating habits in winter are a key to maintaining an optimal level of body condition.
A BCS of 6 before the next breeding season is recommended. Due to physical appearance, bulls with this score carry a modest amount of extra fat covering.
One management strategy for promoting this healthy weight is to feed and manage bulls by age. Cattle producers should divide annual, 2-year-old and mature bulls into different feeding groups.
Often times, bulls lose between 100 and 400 pounds during the breeding season. Hence, diet is important in the off-season. By separating the bulls by age and size, farmers can determine nutritional needs based on size and growth potential. Beef producers should develop feed rations that suit each feeding group.
Limit cold stress
Winter months can cause cold stress for bulls. This stress could affect fertility during the next breeding season.
Since sperm are produced more than 60 days before a cow is bred, cold stress in late winter can negatively affect sperm production and fertility, resulting in low fertility at the beginning of the spring breeding season.
Cold stress can also cause frostbite to the scrotum and vagina, which negatively affects a bull’s ability to breed cows, resulting in poor conception rates in the upcoming breeding season.
It is recommended that ranchers provide bulls with adequate shelter and shelter to reduce cold stress over the winter. Whether in the pasture or in a lot, access to a barn or to lean on gives bulls the opportunity to stay warm.
Let them move
Exercise before the breeding season is important to ensure that the bulls are physically ready for breeding.
Since many bulls serve women in pastures, they are used to walking long distances. The breeding process requires physical activity. Therefore, ranchers should make exercise a part of winter management.
The distance between water, food, and minerals in a pasture can promote exercise, in which case bulls have to walk to improve endurance.
However, if bulls are drawn into a lot for the winter, beef producers need to watch the conditions, Davis says. Mud can cause hoof problems that affect the bull’s ability to do its job during the breeding season.
Beef producers should implement strategies in bull lots to reduce sludge conditions. It may include occasional cleaning. If you are inside a building, make sure to rotate or replace the bedding to keep it dry.
Ask a veterinarian
In preparing the bulls for the next breeding season, work with a veterinarian to ensure that the bulls are physically, reproductively, and in reasonable health prior to voting.
To determine physical and reproductive health, Davis urges ranchers to schedule a bull breeding exam with their veterinarian within 30 to 60 days of the breeding season. It’s a good time to get booster vaccinations and parasite control.
Ultimately, winter should be a time to focus on the bulls’ health and wellbeing before they enter the breeding season.
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