South Africa

Health Care

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Preparing Bulls for Mating Season

Bulls don’t always get the necessary attention in the run-up to mating season. Bulls’ genetic contribution and influence, the costs related to buying them, and the importance of optimising reproduction compels us to ensure that they get the attention they deserve.

Feeding

Bulls must be in good condition at the onset of mating season but not overweight. Overweight bulls can be “lazy”, tire quickly, and struggle to keep up in large or hilly camps. Bulls bought on auction or that have been prepared for auction should lose weight gradually before mating season starts. Bulls that lose weight too fast may become infertile through the course of mating season. Avoid feeding rations that contain too much energy in preparation for mating season because it can lead to fat accumulation at the neck of the testis, which has a negative effect on fertility.

Trace minerals play an important role in optimising semen quality and quantity. Even bulls that already receive oral trace-element supplementation can benefit from a top-up injectable trace-mineral supplement. In a local trial (Ferreira, 2015), several semen parameters like these below were meaningfully improved with an injectable trace-mineral supplement like Multimin® + Se + Cu Cattle:

  • The number of ejaculations with more than 1,2 x 106 sperm cells (normal services/covers) and more than 2,0 x 106 sperm cells (important when diluting for AI) per ejaculation was meaningfully improved (p < 0,01).
  • Semen density increased meaningfully over the course of the proof of 12 weeks (p < 0,05) as opposed to the control (+95% vs. base value).
  • The percentage of ejaculations with >50% progressively mobile sperm (that swim in a straight line) was meaningfully improved (p < 0,05).

SM Bull campaign W1 (ENG).jpg

Vaccinations and Parasite Control

Complete all vaccinations six weeks before the start of mating season and ensure that the bulls are free of parasites, both internal and external.

Fitness

Bulls should be made fit in preparation for mating season, especially if they are kept and fed in small camps during the run-up to mating season. Walking them twice a day for at least 30 minutes at a brisk pace can improve their fitness markedly.

Breeding Soundness

Bulls should not only be fertile but also suitable for mating. This entails a comprehensive general examination that includes the following:

  • Anatomical suitability. Is the penis and testis (shape, size, consistency, injuries, etc.) normal and functional? Does the bull have any injuries to its hooves, legs, or joints that may prevent it from covering a cow successfully?
  • Libido – is the bull’s mating drive adequate?
  • Semen quality and quantity – density, movement, morphology, etc.
  • Absence of venereal diseases – ensure that test results for trichomoniasis and vibriosis are negative. Venereal diseases cost farmers billions in reduced calf percentages and the costs related to the maintenance (feeding, vaccinations, parasite control, trace-mineral supplementations, etc.) of cows that do not produce. 

SM Bull campaign W2 (Eng).jpg

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