Many producers have begun calving, and with that comes the thought of breeding for next year. With record snowfall and bitter temperatures this winter, it is inevitable that cattle have undergone a degree of stress over the last few months.
Herd bulls can be especially susceptible to effects of cold weather on their reproductive organs. Bulls that have experienced scrotal frostbite can develop testicular degeneration, a condition where the testicle shrinks in size and deteriorates, causing decreased fertility. Just like every year, it is very important to perform breeding soundness exams on your bulls to ensure they are fertile. Remember to test them with adequate time to intervene if necessary.
The Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE)
* Composed of 3 parts:
Overall health/soundness exam -- body condition score, feet evaluation, health status
Reproductive organ evaluation -- palpation of accessory sex glands to check for signs of inflammation, measurement of scrotal circumference, and palpation of testicles for signs of damage
Semen evaluation -- assess semen motility and ensure normal morphology (individual sperm shape)
Bovine sperm take approximately 60 days to develop, therefore abnormalities due to injury or illness can take 60 days to show up in the semen
* Schedule your BSE early
If a bull does not pass his BSE, we recommend retesting in 30-60 days -- if he does not pass on the second test, you need enough time to purchase a replacement
Vaccinations given at the time of the BSE will offer optimum protection approximately 3 weeks later
If your bull has cracked hoof walls or corkscrew toes and requires a foot trim, he will need time to heal before being put to work
Ideal body condition score (BCS) is 5-6 out of 9
* Bulls with a BCS of 7 or higher will not be in as good of shape as a bull with a BCS of 5 or 6, so he may not be able to get as many cows bred
* Bulls with a BCS of 4 will need time to put weight on before the breeding season starts
* Expect bulls to drop a full point by the end of breeding season
Thank you for choosing Valley Vet Center in Cherokee for your veterinary needs. We will be happy to schedule your BSE appointment and look forward to seeing you then! Feel free to stop in anytime or call us at (712) 225-5200.