Frigid winter is reason to consider bull reproduction check

February 17, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue Extension beef specialist Ron Lemenager recommends that beef producers invest in annual breeding soundness exams because frostbite from extreme cold in December and January could lessen bulls' ability to reproduce.

"Cattle may look fine, but in some cases a producer may not be able to tell without an exam," he said.

During an exam, trained veterinarians or Ph.D. animal scientists specializing in reproduction evaluate physical soundness, the reproductive organs and semen quality. The exam typically takes 10-15 minutes. A semen sample is collected, evaluated for motility and stained for further evaluation of semen characteristics in the lab later.

The exam will determine whether a bull has the ability to breed.

"If a bull passes the exam, it does not guarantee pregnancies," Lemenager said. "But if the bull fails the evaluation, its means there is a very good chance cows will not get bred, and that knowledge saves the farmer time and money."

Lemenager suggests testing bulls 60 days before the breeding season to ensure a bull is fertile, free of diseases and physically sound. Producers limit their options if they have the exam done later, he said.

"If a bull is marginal or fails the evaluation, the animal can come back in 30 days for re-evaluation," Lemenager said. "If the bull fails again, the producer has time to find a replacement."

Most of the exams are conducted locally, and there are no health risks. Cost for an exam usually ranges from $45 to $80.

Bulls should be tested before every breeding season. Exams are a good management practice that producers should strongly consider, Lemenager said.

"If a producer wants to get cows bred in a timely manner, this is an insurance policy that is not expensive compared to not getting cows bred or getting cows bred late," Lemenager said.

This spring, several Purdue Extension offices have organized breeding soundness exam clinics at locations throughout the state. They include:

* Orange County: March 12, 8:30 a.m. Contact: Mary Jo Robinson, 812-723-7101,

* Washington County: March 16, 8 a.m. Contact: Brad Shelton, 812-883-4601,

* Johnson and Bartholomew Counties: March 19, 8:30 a.m. Contact: David Smith, 317-736-3724,

* Clark County: March 29, 12 p.m. Contact: David Trotter, 812-256-4591,

* Morgan County: April 5, 8:30 a.m. Contact: Chris Parker, 765-342-1010,

* Lawrence County: April 11, 8:30 a.m. Contact: David Redman, 812-275-4623, .

For more information and to schedule an appointment, call the contacts listed above, Purdue Extension at 888-EXT-INFO (398-4636) or a local veterinarian.

Writer: Audrie Koester 765-496-2384,

Source: Ron Lemenager, 765-494-4817,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page