Winter Management Of Herd Bulls


by Rachel Endecott, Beef Cattle Specialist

How do your bulls look this fall? Are they recovering well from breeding season, or do some need a little extra? Mature bulls may be able to get by on an all‐forage diet, but young bulls should be around 75{28d451f77a4de8a52cd2586be6cc1800527fe70ea84e8b3f90098495d088e086} of their mature body weight by the time they are 2 years old. For example, let’s say you bought a 1250‐pound yearling bull this spring, and he lost 200 pounds during the breeding season and he weighs 1050 pounds. If you expect him to weigh 2000 pounds at maturity, he needs to gain 450 pounds to weigh 1500 pounds (0.75 x 2000) by the time he turns two.  

While it is important for thin bulls to achieve optimal body condition, it is also important not to overfeed bulls. Fat layers around the scrotum can interfere with temperature regulation, negatively impacting semen quality and production. Overfeeding can also lead to foot problems and soundness
issues, and out‐of‐shape bulls are less likely to hustle to breed cows when turn out time rolls around.

I recommend that bulls receive a year‐round mineral supplementation program just like the cows. Trace minerals like copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium, along with vitamins A and E are important antioxidants that can prevent sperm damage from stress.  

Protection from inclement weather is a crtical factor in winter herd bull management. Frostbite can hinder a bull’s ability to raise and lower the testicles for proper temperature regulation. While mild frostbite has a good recovery rate, severe frostbite can leave a bull infertile. Ensure that bulls have the ability to get out the wind and are not lying on unbedded, frozen ground.   

Bulls should not be overlooked when it comes to herd health and vaccinations. Contact your veterinarian for assistance in designing a program that makes sense for your operation. Giving bulls plenty of room to exercise and to allow for the pecking order to sort out are other steps to ensure bulls make it through winter and are ready to breed cows for you next spring.

CLICK HERE to see other articles from the MSU Beef Cattle Specialist


Source:  MSU Extension

Posted by Jami Howell

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x