Winter has given way to spring in Oklahoma, causing some cattle producers to wonder how they might use bulls as yearlings to get an additional year of use from the animals, reducing the per-cow bull depreciation cost.
Greg Highfill, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area livestock specialist, said producers can use several management tips to maximize success of yearling bulls.
“Run yearling bulls only with other yearling bulls on a set of females,” he said. “Yearlings who run with older bulls may be physically abused to the point that they settle very few cows.”
Reduce the cow-to-bull ratio to about 50 percent of that maintained with older bulls.
“If you run one mature bull to each 30 cows, then 15 cows should be plenty for each yearling bull,” Highfill said.
Some cattle producers have successfully rotated yearling bulls in and out of the breeding pasture at approximately two-week intervals.
Glenn Selk, OSU Cooperative Extension livestock reproduction specialist, said the “rest-and-work rotation” requires more management but can be very beneficial.
“Yearlings should be left with the cow herd for 60 days or less,” he said. “Beyond that time, their body condition will decline, which may have long-range negative effects on their growth.”
Following their removal from the cow herd, yearling bulls should be kept separate from older bulls at least through their second winter. They should be placed on the best available feed and should receive regular supplementation until the next breeding season.
“It’s important to remember that these young bulls are still growing rapidly, in addition to replacing the condition lost in the breeding pasture,” Selk said. “Extra care and feed of yearling bulls after the breeding season will result in more attractive mature bulls with a much higher salvage value.”