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Jan 14, 2022 3:07:10 PM / Brooke Loeffler / Improving Bull Fertility

Improving Bull Fertility

When it comes to cattle conception rates, a lot of time and attention is typically devoted to the females; but of course, cows are only half the equation. There are some simple nutritional, organizational, social, and medical methods that can boost bull fertility and improve reproduction rates for your operation.

Offer Year Round Minerals

Correcting mineral deficiencies takes time, so maintaining a year round trace mineral program will save you from playing catchup before breeding season. Spermatogenisis (sperm cell creation) starts around 61 days or 2 months before breeding. Many aspects of bull reproductive health are directly tied to mineral nutrition. Conducting liver biopsies is one of the most effective methods for testing for mineral deficiencies.

  • Click here to learn more about how living liver biopsies can help your mineral program.

A few of the most important trace minerals to keep an eye on for fertility health are iron, copper, selenium, manganese, and zinc. Keeping these minerals balanced in your bulls will:

  • Protect reproductive tissues and sperm from oxidative stress
  • Maintain libido levels
  • Support reproductive development and healthy hormone production
  • Develop healthy sperm cells
  • Increase sperm motility and more...

Support Rumen Health for Better Body Condition

Prioritizing rumen health will help your bulls improve and maintain healthy body condition scores (BCS). According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Extension:

“Evaluating the body condition score of bulls at least 90 days before breeding and feeding them to gain weight so that they are in a BCS 5.5 to 6.5 at the onset of breeding can help keep bulls active, healthy, and productive through the breeding season.”

Offering your animals a rumen supplement, like Redmond Mineral Conditioner will help:

  • Buffer rumen pH and prevent acidosis
  • Improve fiber and mineral absorption
  • Maintain healthy ammonia levels
  • Bind to harmful toxins
  • Support healthy gut microbes

With these digestive benefits, your bulls will be able to maintain a healthy BCS and devote the necessary resources to their reproductive systems.

  • Click here to learn more about how Conditioner can help improve your operation’s reproduction rates.

Watch the video below to hear 1 customer’s story about improving conception rates with Redmond:

Conduct Breeding Soundness Examination

Have your veterinarian conduct a Breeding Soundness Examination (BSE) for your bulls. BSEs evaluate a wide range of physical criteria:

  • Scrotal circumference (related to bull’s maturity and how many sperm are generated daily)
  • Sperm motility (progressive headfirst movement)
  • Sperm morphology (rate of normal vs. abnormally developed sperm)

This test will help you determine which bulls meet the minimum requirements for breeding. Under the advice of your veterinarian, you can decide which bulls should be retested and which are not potential breeders. Washington State University states:

“Bulls which score higher than 60% and do not have any limiting physical or genital disorders, are considered to be satisfactory breeding animals. Bulls scoring between 30% and 60% should be considered questionable breeders. Those bulls scoring less than 30% are classified as unsatisfactory breeders.”

Support Leg/Hoof Health

Injured or weak legs and feet can prevent your bulls from moving around to open cows and from performing strong mounts. Along with BCS and BSE, make sure you inspect your sires' hooves and legs during the winter and beyond for successful breeding.

Fly Control

Biting pests (such as horn flies) can feed on your bulls up to 30 times a day, stealing blood and crucial nutrients. Animals plagued by these pests can actually become anemic and deficient for some essential minerals. Biting flies also prevent your cattle from grazing and eating normally, making it hard to maintain healthy BCS. They can spread viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases that may make a bull unavailable for breeding this season. In addition, fly avoidance behaviors can become increasingly aggressive and lead to herd injuries.

Beat fly season to the punch by starting fly control measures now. Redmond Minerals offers our delicious 10 fine minerals with added garlic to naturally protect your herd from biting pests. 10 Fine with Garlic is natural, highly effective and does not alter the taste of meat or milk!

  • Click here to learn more about garlic fly control

Watch For Social and Behavioral Cues

Remember, there are some fertility factors that can’t be measured by a BSE. They can, however, be observed.

Libido

The desire to mate clearly has an effect on pregnancy rates in your herd. Watch your bulls closely (especially young/inexperienced bulls) after introducing them to your cows. Are any bulls more interested in eating and bunking than finding cows in estrus? Bulls displaying lower libido levels may simply need rest and recuperation, but consult your vet with concerns.

Dominance

Bull social behavior and group hierarchies can affect reproductive performance. Older bulls (typically 3-4 years and older) can sometimes claim greater access to cows, but they don’t always have the BSE scores to back it up. If you are using multiple sires, consider dividing your herd into groups for younger and older bulls. You can sometimes see these dominance behaviors before breeding season even starts. 

Improving Bull Fertility with Redmond

Founded by farmers, Redmond Minerals knows how to help you get back to what you love about raising animals. With our wide range of mineral and volcanic supplement mixes, customers have enjoyed high pregnancy rates, healthier animals, and greater peace of mind.

Supplements to improve bull fertility

In addition to our expansive profile of natural sea minerals, we offer mixes fortified with added selenium, copper, manganese, cobalt, iodine and zinc…perfect for boosting the fertility of your bulls. Mix in our mineral conditioner, and you have a winning combination to boost the production rates in your herd. Give us a call today at 866-709-3192 to see how Redmond can help!

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