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Buying the best bull

The genetic makeup of a cattle herd is greatly influenced by its bull. Learn what to look for when selecting a bull to improve your breeding program.

Purchasing a bull is the most important genetic decision for your herd. How do you decide which one is the best? Virginia Tech Extension animal scientist Scott Greiner says you have to have a goal in mind in terms of how that bull will be used in a breeding program.

"What are the breeding objectives of our herd, what traits are we trying to improve, or do we feel our herd is at the proper level of genetics?" Greiner says.

The bull only has one job - to get the cows pregnant. So his reproductive abilities have to be proven and recorded.

"Make sure that the bull has passed a breeding soundness exam performed by a licensed veterinarian, and is fully guaranteed to be a breeder." says Greiner. "He should also be sound on his feet and legs, and from there we can look at his genetic merit."

That includes how big the bull is in terms of frame score, its visual appearance, and other genetic factors that will determine if it is the right bull for your job. This information is usually provided if you go to a public auction. If the bull is bought directly from a breeder, the breeder should have the details.

It's important to know exactly what you're getting and what to expect from the bull before signing on the dotted line. You'll pay thousands of dollars for a good bull. You want that investment to pay off.

Suggested websites:

Is That Bull Really a "Good" Deal?

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