ISSN 2398-2993      

Feeding the working bull

obovis

Introduction

  • Production of “fit for purpose” bulls is a key requirement for commercial beef herds .
  • A bull needs to be fertile, fit for work and long-lasting to produce a large number of calves over his lifetime. Bulls that last longer will produce more calves over their lifetime: AHDB Beef and Lamb (2014) state that a bull should produce at least 30 calves per year and last seven breeding years, which means that he will produce 210 calves per bull over their lifetime, at an annual “bull cost”, ie bull purchase costs/feeding bull/housing, etc, of £30 per calf born. The main determinant of this cost is the number of calves sired and bull longevity, and so having a fully fertile bull that lasts as long as possible, ie remains fit and healthy, is critical.
  • However, traditionally bulls are grown rapidly for sale to command the best prices. This can result in poor fertility and longevity: an overfed (overfat) bull may last three breeding years and produce ten calves per year, at a cost of £143 per calf born.

Nutrient requirements of the working bull

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Effects of overfeeding

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Body condition scoring

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • AHDB Beef and Lamb (2014) Fit for Purpose Bulls. A Blueprint for Breeders. Signet Breeding Services. Website: http://beefandlamb.ahdb.org.uk (pdf download).

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