Trent Bridge

Inaugural Bull Sale 2023 | 69 ARRIVAL When the bull or bulls arrive home, unload them at the yards into a group of house cows, steers or herd cows. Never jump them from the back of a truck directly into a paddock—it may be the last time you see them. Bulls from different origins should be put into separate yards with other cattle for company. Provide hay and water, then leave them alone until the next morning. The next day, bulls should receive routine health treatments. If they have not been treated before, all bulls should be vaccinated with: • 5-in-1 vaccine; • vibriosis vaccine; • leptospirosis vaccine (if in areas like the Hunter where leptospirosis exists); • three-day sickness vaccine (if in areas where this sickness can cause problems). Give particular attention to preventing new bulls bringing vibriosis into a herd. Vibriosis, a sexually transmitted disease, causes infertility and abortions and is most commonly introduced to a clean herd by an infected bull. These bulls show no signs of the illness. Vaccinated bulls are free from vibriosis, so vaccinating bulls against the disease should be a routine practice. Vaccination involves two injections, 4–6 weeks apart, at the time of introduction, and then a booster shot every year. Complete the vaccinations 4 weeks before joining. Consult with your veterinarian and draw up a policy for treating bulls on arrival and then annually. Bulls should be drenched to prevent introducing worms and, if necessary, should be treated for lice. Horned bulls should be well tipped to allow easier working through yards and races. Plan to give follow-up vaccinations 4–6 weeks later. Leave the bulls in the yards for the next day or two on feed and water to allow them to settle down with other stock for company. A bull’s behaviour will decide how quickly he can be moved out to paddocks. MATING NEW YOUNG BULLS Newly purchased young bulls should not be placed with older herd bulls for multiple-sire joining. The older, dominant bull will not allow the young bulls to work much, and will knock them around while keeping them away from the cows. Use new bulls in either single-sire groups or with young bulls their own age. If a number of young bulls are to be used together, run them together for a few weeks before joining starts. They sort out their pecking order quickly and have few problems later. When the young bulls are working, inspect them regularly and closely. MANAGING OLDER HERD BULLS Older working bulls also need special care and attention before mating starts. They should be tested or checked every year for physical soundness, testicle tone, and serving capacity or ability. All bulls to be used must be free-moving, active and in good store condition. Working bulls may need supplementary feeding before the joining season to bring up condition. All bulls should be drenched, treated for lice and vaccinated with 5-in-1 and for vibriosis, annually. They may need vaccinating against leptospirosis and three-day sickness in some areas. DURING MATING • Check bulls at least twice each week for the first 2 months. Get up close to them and watch each bull walk; check for swellings around the sheath and for lameness. • Have a spare bull or bulls available to replace any that break down. Replace any suspect bull immediately. • Rotate bulls in single-sire groups to make sure that any bull infertility is covered. Single-sire joining works well but it has risks. The bulls must be checked regularly and carefully, or the bulls should be rotated every one or two cycles. Bulls are a large investment for breeding herds and they have a major effect on herd fertility. A little time and attention to make sure they are fit, free from disease and actively working is well worthwhile. ACKNOWLEDGMENT: This publication was originally written by Bob Dent, former Beef Cattle Officer with NSW Agriculture.