Bull testing isn’t just about the semen. It’s about the bulls' overall health and preventing production losses for farmers.
A standardised examination for Bull Breeding Soundness is used to determine if a bull meets the required benchmark. This has been developed across Australia for different bull breeds and ages, utilising the research and experience of many cattle veterinarians, so that farmers can rely on the results. Bulls either pass, qualify or fail the BullCheck test for breeding soundness. Based on the individual and group results the scores mean better bull planning, better breeding planning, and better profitability.
The examination involves physical examination of the bull because we need to know that he can move freely and reliably serve cows. It also involves examination of the reproductive tract and evaluation of his semen. Bulls with low-percent normal sperm on morphology get fewer cows in calf, and the cows take longer to become pregnant.
Semen testing requires assessing the motion of sperm with a crush-side microscope and sending a sample to the lab to check for deformities. This second step, the morphology test, is a critical part of the veterinary bull breeding soundness examination as it is the measure most strongly correlated with calf output.
Morphology tells us more about the sperm, it may be swimming well, but when it gets to the egg be infertile. This damaged or malformed sperm can also stop the healthy sperm in the sample being able to fertilise the ova. On average 20-30% of bulls fail the morphology test. If you are running five bulls that are not morphology tested, it is likely that one may have poor morphology. The result is a reduced calving rate, and fewer weaners on the ground every year.
North Coast Veterinary Services isn’t just about assisting the big farmers; we want to be there for the little guys too. That is why we are so pleased to be able to offer fully accredited BullCheck to the region - it can make a difference to every farmer. Getting rid of poor performing bulls means quicker conceptions, more conceptions, and better control of calving times. By having a poor performing bull you will have more calves conceived at the end of a six-week joining. These calves will be 42kg lighter at weaning (at an average daily gain of 1kg) than a calf conceived at the beginning of joining. If you look at that over 50 cows, this equates to 2100kg! And at $2.50 per kilogram, you’re looking at $5,250 lost.