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Jake Troutt Jake Troutt

Association Perspective

Every calf counts.

“Every calf counts.” It’s a phrase most often heard around calving season. Certainly an important time, a calf’s first two weeks of life play a vital role in its future productive success. Ensuring each addition to the herd hits the dirt with ease, vigor and a strong will to live is essential. Additionally, providing the proper vaccination protocol to treat and prevent sickness and disease in susceptible areas is good management. Long before any of that can take place, however, the calf must be conceived, and proper care for bulls is a must.

Breeding soundness exams are crucial when it comes time to turn bulls out with cows, and routine pasture checkups throughout the breeding season will help ensure bulls are working the entire season. Understanding that the fact a bull worked last year is no guarantee he’ll work the next breeding season can save both time and resources.

On a yearly basis, bulls should be evaluated for sperm motility and morphology, and they should undergo a rectal palpation to detect abnormalities. In addition to palpation of the testes, a basic evaluation of body condition should be conducted. Observation of the feet and legs for structural soundness should never be overlooked, as bulls can become injured during the off season.

In addition to caring for and maintaining bulls, utilizing them correctly is key to achieving an appropriate calving interval. Avoid turning yearling or even 18-month-old bulls out with large-framed cows or too many cows. Use older bulls on cows that are larger in frame size. No matter how exciting a bull’s genetic or phenotypic merit is, it’s best to let them grow into their own. A quick way to ruin a young bull is by making him tired from working too hard or getting him injured from trying to breed cows that are too large. Some bulls may become overwhelmed and are not able to handle the cow load required of them, while others may become too hard of flesh to continue to breed. Keeping a few bulls around as backups is a good practice. Remember, before the calf is born, it has to be conceived. Every calf counts.


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Editor’s Note:Jake Troutt is the regional manager for Region 12, including Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Click here to find the regional manager for your state.

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