The bulls have arrived for the grazing heifers. Ensure that mating goes smoothly by following the following check list:
Check the ratio
If the heifers are cycling well, they will need one bull per 15 heifers. If the owner has done a mating synchrony program with the heifers, you will need an even higher ratio of bulls to heifers. So have a quick count and make sure the heifer/bull ratio is right, if not it may pay to check in with the owner. With too few functioning bulls, it will likely mean that some heifers don’t get mated on their first heat. These heifers then calve 3 weeks later than necessary, affecting their future milk production and the ability to get pregnant again.
Keep an eye on the bull team’s health – swap out any bulls that need a rest
Remember to check if any of the bulls are lame, skinny, sick or dull. If you spot one, get a replacement right away. It often takes up to a week to notice that a new bull is not well; this is a really good reason to get bulls onto the property a couple of weeks before mating.
Ensure you have the paperwork
That confirms the bulls have been tested for BVD. You can also discuss pregnancy testing (via ultrasound) with the owner; this can be done 6 weeks after the bulls are taken out.
You’ve done a lot of hard work to get these heifers in good condition and ready for mating, chase up that dairy farmer! Don’t allow a dud bull or lack of bull power to let you down!