For many Irish farms, breeding season is coming up in the next few weeks. Farmers must consider their herd size and production goals when selecting an effective method of breeding for their farm. Now is the time for farmers to prepare in advance. Make any necessary changes to their production system or purchase a young bull for maiden heifers.
Even though a young bull may be considered a big investment, it is important that farmers choose wisely. The new addition will have a major influence on the quality of cattle the farm will produce over the coming years. When selecting a young bull, there are many breeds to choose from. Each farmer must determine what is the best bull for their herd with the aim to increase the value of their cattle.
Know Your Herd
The farmer needs to identify their own herds strengths and weaknesses. Firstly, the young bull will serve heifers but in the coming years the bull will mature and may move onto serve the main herd. It is important to keep this in mind. Reflect on the most recent calving season and make note of the overall success of the period, any fertility issues, calving issues etc. All this information can be simply recorded using an App like Herdwatch and available on your phone or computer to review to make informed decisions. From this point a plan can be made for the type of bull that farmers should consider.
Consider The Best Purchasing Option For Your Farm
Whether farmers buy from a sale or privately we would recommend doing research before purchasing. Choose a bull that corrects some deficiencies within the herd but remember as the young bull will serve heifers, farmers should consider a docile easy calver.
Herdwatch have partnered with Donedeal to provide a ‘verified by Herdwatch’ service to members that will give powerful information about the animals on sale. You can check this out on Donedeal where ads will have the ‘verified by Herdwatch’ badge at the top.
Pay Attention To The Health Check
Most sellers will provide farmers with an overall ‘health check’ of their bulls including fertility tests. Pay attention to the health status of each animal, aim to buy a bull with the same or higher health status than your own herd. Study the expected progeny differences and consider what would be best suited for heifers. Ideally farmers should have their own herd vaccinated before purchasing and the new bull should also be vaccinated before joining the herd.
Feeding The Bull
Be aware that some young bulls are heavily fed prior to sale. If fat is deposited around the neck of the scrotum, it may affect fertility. Also, over feeding may cause damage to their feet and this could lead to long term issues. Try to purchase a young bull before he gains excessive condition or at least three months before he is needed to start serving as this will allow time for him to return to moderate body condition. Find out from the seller the type of diet being fed and make changes slowly. Buying in advance will also give the young bull time to acclimatise or quarantine, if needed.
Spot Lameness In Advance
A visual assessment is important when selecting a young bull. However, current Covid restrictions make this difficult. Farmers can request a video of the young bull. Look for an animal that is well developed, has good conformation and good joints. Watch to make sure the bull is walking smoothly and has no feet/ foot conditions. Bulls with poor joints or foot issues should be avoided.
An alternative to a young bull would be to AI the herd. Contact your local AI technician to talk through the best options for your farm.
For more information about ‘verified by Herdwatch’ or to download the app, visit www.herdwatch.com.
If you are interested in full or part time work, FRS have a wide range of jobs available and are now hiring FRS Operators. If you are interested in becoming an FRS Operator visit www.frsfarmrelief.ie/careers and fill out an application form online.