The fall-breeding season is upon us, and that means herd managers need to keep an eye on bulls to make certain cows are being bred.

Occasionally, a bull that has passed a breeding soundness exam may have difficulty serving cows in heat, especially after heavy service, cautions Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension cattle specialist.

“In terms of calf-crop percent, the inability of a bull to complete normal service and low fertility are more detrimental than failure to detect cows in heat,” he said. “Such problems can best be detected by observing bulls while they work.”

In other words, cattle producers should protect their investment by watching bulls actually mate with cows during the first part of each breeding season.

“If problems are apparent, there is time to replace the bull and salvage the remainder of the breeding season and next year’s calf crop,” Selk said.

Also, some bulls can wear out from heavy service and lose interest in mating. These animals must be replaced as soon as possible.

“The greater the number of cows allotted to each bull in the breeding pasture, the more critical it is that every bull be ready to work every day of the breeding season,” Selk said.

In addition, injuries to bulls during the breeding season are not uncommon.

“When a bull becomes lame or incapable of breeding because of injury to his reproductive tract, the animal needs to be removed from the breeding pasture and replaced with another herd sire,” Selk said.

Additional information on bull management is available at http://beefextension.com on the Internet or by contacting any local OSU Cooperative Extension county office, usually listed under “County Government” in telephone directories.