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Basics for Selecting a Bull
Published: March 17, 2020

If you have a spring calving beef herd and need a bull, now is the time to be selecting one.  Dr. Joe Paschal from Texas Agrilife Extension indicated during the Texas A&M beef cattle conference that selecting a bull starts with structural correctness so a bull can perform his job.  Bulls should look masculine and be thickest through the middle of their hindquarters when viewed from the rear and a strong wide back is a good indicator of muscling. 

A breeding soundness exam is critical to determine fertility and this exam includes more than just looking at a semen sample.  The breeding soundness exam performed by your veterinarian should include all of the components on an exam form recommended by the Society of Theriogenology (theriogenology means reproduction).  This will include a physical exam of the reproductive organs, measurement of scrotal size and examination of semen including not only numbers of sperm, but morphology of sperm and number of sperm that are progressively motile. 

Dr. Clay Mathis of the King Ranch Institute of Ranch Management indicates the physical exam should include evaluating the feet, eyes, mouth, gait and body condition.  Performance records, if available, should be examined as well as these include expected progeny differences or EPD and accuracy values.  EPD is the estimate of how future progeny are expected to perform in a series of specified traits and the more records available, the more accurate the analysis.  Performance records are a reliable predictor of the animal’s genetic potential.  So, it is recommended to select bulls using EPDs to improve traits that are of economic value to your specific operation. If you have other question about bull selection, contact your local agriculture extension.

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