More Bull Selection and Management
The most usual time to
be thinking about Beef Bull Selection and management is prior to and ito late spring because spring marks the
traditional bull buying season. The importance of bull buying decisions have long-term consequences, particularly
in single-bull units since the genetic merit of future generations is impacted by only a few bulls. Additionally,
market signals are clearly sending the message that cattle with superior genetics and management have more value,
further emphasizing the importance of bull selection. With some prio planning, bull buying can be simplified and
chances of success enhanced by a little advance thinking.
Define your bull's job responsibilities. In simple terms, how will the bull be used and
how will the new herd sire contribute to the herd's overall genetic plan and goals? Will the bull be used on
heifers, mature cows, or both? Will replacement females be retained in the herd? How will the calf crop be marketed
(at weaning?, backgrounded?, retained ownership?) What are the labor and management resources available? What are
the feed resources and environmental conditions of the operation? How will this sire contribute to the overall
breeding system plan? Answers to these basic questions will outline the basics from which individual selection
traits can be defined, categorized, and prioritized.
Evaluation With the above defined, you are ready to look at individual bulls. There are
many sources of bulls that warrant consideration, production sales, test stations, and private treaty sales. Of
critical importance is that the bull be from a reputable breeder who will stand behind his genetics and product. It
may be necessary to look at several sources in order to find the correct bull. The first step to doing so is to
evaluate the sale catalog, performance pedigree, or data sheet. By examination of the bull's performance record,
determine which bulls meet the specifications that have been defined, categorized, and prioritized. Be prepared to
make trade offs, because your perfect bull may not be attainable. Do not be surprised or alarmed when the bulls you
have highlighted appear scattered through the sale order. Remember to stick to the selection criteria and
qualifications and specifications that have been established. Once the list has been narrowed to only bulls which
meet your criteria, they can be further evaluated and selection refined. Doing this homework prior to arrival at
the sale or farm will not only save time, but also assist in making sure the right bull for your need is purchased.
Upon narrowing the potential candidates on paper, the bulls can be evaluated for suitability of phenotypic traits
and the potential candidate list shortened even further.
Bull Management 101