What about the bull?
The next thing on the list should be to make sure the bulls have adequate wind protection or bedding. During normal winter conditions frostbite is not a common problem with breeding bulls, but prolonged exposure to extreme cold and wind increases the incidence of frostbite and is a problem that must be considered when planning for the breeding season. Visual indicators of frostbite are swelling and scab(s). Frostbite can reduce fertility.
A breeding soundness exam (BSE) should be performed every year on every bull. Just because he was fine last year does not mean anything this year. Along with the possibility of sub-zero temperatures causing damage, bulls can get infections, tumors, and injuries which all can affect the bull’s fertility. A misconception is that the purpose of conducting BSE is to eliminate sterile bulls. There are not very many sterile bulls, but there are bulls with reduced fertility. The BSE should be performed at least 30 - 60 days before breeding season. However, having a BSE completed earlier may be better in case you have to purchase a new bull. What are the possible outcomes from not completing the BSE? 1) Higher than normal number of open cows. 2) More cows being bred in the second cycle which could cost you 35 pounds per calf at weaning time. With today’s prices for September feeder cattle on the board, that could be around$62/head. 3) No differences in conception rates. With today input costs, we can’t afford to risk open cows or late calvers.
Many of us worry about the reproducibility of our cows where as a cow is responsible for one calf a year, a bull could be responsible for up to 50 calves a year.