By Gary Sliworsky
Ag rep, Emo
Soon, or perhaps already, you may be looking for a new bull.
Many factors will affect the longevity and usefulness of the bulls you use.
Bringing home that fresh yearling bull is always exciting. You have invested time and money in making the purchase.
But seeing him fade to a shadow by the end of the breeding season soon puts a few questions in your mind regarding your investment choice.
We need to remember that yearling bulls have just reached adolescence, and still have a lot of growth and development ahead of them.
They do require higher management than mature bulls.
Yearling bulls will lose weight during their first breeding season, but minimizing this loss will extend a bull’s usefulness and productivity.
Minimizing the loss starts as soon as you bring him home. They need to be fed to continue gaining two to two-and-a-half pounds a day until they are turned out with the cows.
Remember, yearling bulls need to be fit—not fat. Ample opportunity for exercise is required for muscle tone.
Once you do turn him out, you need to be sure he is not overworked. A good rule of thumb is to turn him out with one cow for every month of age (i.e., a 15-month-old bull can be turned out with 15 cows).
Remember he needs to get the cows inseminated, but he also needs to learn to be a bull. Observe him regularly to ensure he knows to go from one cow to another and to make sure he doesn’t get injured.
Length of season also is important. Leaving him out all summer will just run more pounds off him, so leave him out for no more than 45-60 days.
When you do bring him in, he needs to gain not just the weight he lost during breeding season, but also enough weight that he will be 75 percent of his mature weight by the time he reaches his second birthday.
If a bull’s potential mature weight is 2,000 pounds, he should weigh at least 1,500 pounds at two years of age.
Therefore, that 1,250-pound yearling bull at turnout who lost 200 pounds during his first breeding season would have to gain two pounds per day during the nine months before his second birthday.
Remember, yearling bulls can be used effectively if they are critically selected, properly developed, and carefully managed.
Dates to remember
•March 27-Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association spring sale, Stratton sales yard.