Creating Your Own Good Luck
Let’s talk about your contingency plan. You know the one I’m talking about. Your bull is lame, or perhaps broke a leg, or maybe died in an accident. It’s in the middle of breeding season, and you need to exercise your contingency plan.
Don’t tell me you don’t have one because I know you always plan for things like this. You know… health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, a back-up generator in case the electric goes out; so I’m sure you have a plan in case you need to replace your injured bull.
Chances are you don’t have a plan. Many producers don’t until they have been caught in the middle of breeding season knowing every day they wait is dollars lost. Forget about your tight calving season, and maybe forget about all your cows even getting bred this season.
Those that become desperate buy just anything to “GET THEM THROUGH.” They usually regret that action. They end up buying a bull that nobody wants and for good reason.
So lets talk about that plan:
First off, everybody will probably go through this at least once, and in some cases several times over a producer’s life time. The key word is planning.
Refresh your plan to create good luck rather than bad luck during your breeding season.
Remember that a bull will reduce his effectiveness as you increase females in his breeding group over his optimum. We suggest mature bulls breed up to 30 cows — if and the key word here is if — you want a tight calving season. Our idea of a tight calving season is 45 days. But this is up to you and your goals.
If you go too far past the optimum number of females, you will risk over working the bull. The result might include the bull going sterile for 45 days during breeding season, breaking a penis due to overexertion, leg damage including stifle, and even breaking a leg if your terrain is rough such as steep hills or creeks. Older bulls tend to be heavier and those back leg muscles are not as strong as they were when they were 2-year olds.
Ideal breeding conditions include a lower bull-to-cow ratio, breeding pastures that don’t include ponds, steep creeks, steep hillsides or areas that have very deep mud when it rains.
If you have 35 plus cows, consider using two bulls. Use your young bull for heifers and then start working him into the herd bull position. If one bull stops breeding during breeding season, you have an option to simply create one breeding group. Hopefully by the middle of breeding season, most females have been bred.
Find a friend who calves in the fall, if you are spring calving. That would give both of you a back up bull if something goes wrong. Talk about this before you need to borrow someone’s bull. Planning and details are important to make this work.
Although your first thought is to simply call your seek stock supplier, the market is very tight, and bulls are not always in available.