Beef Cattle Bull Selection
Optimum beef cattle bull selection is very critical for the health and
productivity of the herd. It is very important to select bulls carefully, since they are going to contribute their
genes to future calves and affect the quality of cattle for many years. When selecting bulls their genes are given
the prime important.
Physical appearance of a bull can signify its
inner strength. But they cannot be the sole indicators, and can be deceiving at times. Appearance depends on
climatic environment and diet. It also depends on infections, parasites and insects. Physical traits can be the
first sign of health. Some purebred beef cattle associations’ provide EPD records that can be consulted to check
genetic traits of different bulls.
Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) or genetic evaluation of bull takes into
consideration the quality and performance of his sire, dam, grandsire, granddam, herd mates and sibs. The owner of
the herd must be aware of his herd’s weaknesses and strengths. He must be clear what qualities should the bull add
to his herd and calves. Herd owner can choose from any of three categories: maternal bulls for use on heifers,
maternal bulls for use on cows or terminal bulls for use on cows. Traits considered based upon function are weaning
weight, milk, birth weight, scrotal circumference, pelvic area, calving ease, total maternal, yearling weight,
carcass quality and percent protein.
Fertility of bulls must be checked by testing semen, measuring scrotal and physically
examining the reproductive tract before beef cattle bull selection. Reproductive tract of bulls can be checked by
examining the rectum of the bull’s prostate, seminal vesicles, ampullae and internal inguinal rings for any signs
of diseases like hernia. Penis must elongate straight, with no deviation and testes must be firm but not hard. Sex
drive or libido can also be checked.
Younger bulls can be a better choice for beef cattle bull selection. Not only do they
cost less, but are also stronger and better-quality. They may not be able to pass semen test at first attempt and
must be rechecked after some time. Physical defects like bad feet, pigeon toes, straight hocks and loose sheaths
must also not be ignored. Calves can inherit these faults and conditions may worsen. Check their feet, legs,
backbone, elbow, shoulder bone, hip bones and pin bones. Bull must have a balanced and comfortable walk. They must
not have any difficulty while walking and standing square. Short-strided or long-strided bulls must be ignored.
More leveled backbone is better. Use ultrasound measurements to gauge muscling in bulls. Beef cattle bull selection
is a very careful job. It not only affects the quality of the herd but also determines the future of the herd for
many years. It involves lots of money and effort on the part of the owner.