A tight calving period is essential in maximising herd productivity. There are a number of factors affecting whether this can be achieved ranging from cow health, disease status to the one that is most often forgotten, bull health and fertility.
Fertility problems in herds are usually put down to problems with cows. The old faithful bull who may have done one season too many or the bought in unproven young bull are often overlooked when pregnancy rates are not up to scratch. Of course any breeding male can suffer from fertility problems due to disease, trauma, or just plain old wearing out. When relying upon these animals to maintain the productivity of your farm it is important to know that they are capable of breeding to the level required.
Parklands Vets can perform both bull and ram breeding soundness examinations giving you a comprehensive assessment of the semen quality and breeding ability of the animal in question. The examination takes approximately one hour and involves an on farm clinical examination and collection of semen sample by electro-ejaculation. The semen is then immediately assessed for quality microscopically before a final high magnification quality check back at the surgery.
Since starting this service we have tested a wide range of animals including: maiden bulls prior to being sold, previously proven bulls that have returned poor pregnancy rates, bulls with undersized testicles and rams that have returned poor pregnancy rates. The results vary but have always provided the owner with an answer allowing them to make an informed decision over the future of the animal.
Management plays a huge role in the health of your bull; correct feeding and condition score, ensuring he is not over worked, and is free from lameness and clinical disease, but this is not the whole story. It is rare for bulls to be infertile however a sub-optimum level of fertility is very common. Fertility testing can be done on farm and is easily carried out. It provides you accurate information regarding your bull fertility status.
We recommend that testing should be carried out yearly at least 2½ – 3 months before you require your bull to work. This means there is plenty of time to resolve any problems that we may find. In addition testing of breeding bull stock over a year old allows any sale to be supported with a veterinary certificate regarding his status at the time of testing.
Please remember the introduction of a new bull into a herd should always be considered a disease risk.