Yearling bull management

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For both commercial and purebred herds, yearling bulls and their proper care represent a significant investment in the future of the cowherd. These bulls represent the genetics that will impact productivity long after their breeding days have passed. In order to maximize this investment, yearling bulls require special attention.

Bulls of this age are typically gaining between three and four pounds a day up until sale time. While it is not necessary to maintain this once he arrives at your ranch, it is important to keep him growing. Bulls should be slowly backed off until they are gaining two or 2 1/2 pounds a day until breeding season begins. Bulls that are allowed to lose weight between sale time and breeding may not have enough reserves to successfully make it through their first breeding season. Exercise is also important at this time as your bull likely was raised in drylot situation. A small grass paddock or larger pen will allow him to get conditioned for the upcoming breeding season.

It is also important to know the vaccination history of the bull you just purchased. If he hasn’t been vaccinated, he should be as soon as possible after coming to your ranch. The newly purchased bull should be vaccinated against IBR, BVD, PI3, leptospirosis and vibriosis. It is also a good idea to immunize him with a seven-way clostridial bacterin. A foot rot vaccine may also be administered at this time.

The post-breeding care provided to yearling bulls is critical if they are to remain productive in future years. It is important to assess physical condition following breeding season. In order for a yearling bull to be ready to breed by next summer, he should be fed to achieve a weight by the beginning of the next breeding season in the 65 to 75 per cent range of his expected mature size. This will help assure that he will be a strong aggressive breeder.

As an example, a bull expected to mature at a weight of 2,200 pounds will need to weigh approximately 1,650 pounds prior to the next breeding season. This means that if a bull comes out of a pasture weighing 1,100 pounds, he will need to gain 550 pounds over the course of the fall and winter season in order to be ready for breeding season. It is therefore important to put together a balanced ration with proper minerals and vitamins that will enable the bull to achieve the proper weight. Regional Livestock Specialists are available to assist you with developing these rations.

Proper care and management of yearling bulls is essential if reproductive performance and genetic improvement of the cowherd is to be maximized. Furthermore, proper care of yearling bulls will increase the likelihood of these animals being successful breeders for years to come. Successful bull management gets cows bred early in the breeding season, optimizes weaning weights and increases profits.

For more information contact: Travis Peardon, Regional Livestock Specialist Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Outlook Regional Office, 306-867-5504.

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