News & Advice

Look after the boys…

Nov 6, 2019 | Dairy, Dairy Animal Health & Welfare, Dairy Farm Reproduction

Hanneke Officer, Veterinarian, Healthy Hoof Advisor, Anexa Vets

Yes, heat detection aids have increased in accuracy and there are more options, HOWEVER, nothing beats a bull. Genetically engineered to sniff out pheromones, they get onto the job at exactly the right time.

BUT… Several challenges present themselves to them once mating season starts and you can help them overcome those. Put yourself in their hooves for a moment

  • If you’ve been leased or purchased you’ll be coming onto a new property which will present its own array of illness inducing pathogens and nutrition will be different 
  • You’re expected to work hard for 4-6 weeks, as a lot of ladies depend on you 
  • You might have to walk distances you have never had to travel before 
  • There will be competitors to deal with 
What are your options, as their minder? Remember the 3 R’s: 

Review:  Monitor bull activity and general behaviour for indicators of illness.

Rest:  Rest bulls regularly to give them a chance to re charge – this will give their feet a break as well as refresh the semen production. You will need to have enough spare bulls to allow for these rest breaks. Your vet can help you work out the number of bulls needed for your herd.

Removal:  If a bull is sick or lame, they need to be removed. Illness, especially when fever is present, will impact negatively on sperm quality. For this to regenerate it can take up to 60 days, time you don’t have to spare. Lameness will decrease the mating activity of a bull and can also impact negatively on the cow he is serving if he can’t balance properly. On top of that, recovery from lameness can take 28 days or more – once again time you don’t have to spare.

Aside from rest, training bulls to stay in the paddock or at the very least off the yard will be a great help towards lameness prevention. As mentioned, lameness has a big impact on overall health and generally will end useful performance of a service bull.

Look after the boys, so they can look after your ladies.

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