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Monday, May 2, 2016

Understanding breeding soundness

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For cattle producers, it can be a very sad and disappointing feeling this time of year when they realize that their herd bull just wasn't able to get the job done last year and they now have a calf crop that is only half as large as they expected.

One way for farmers to help prevent that from occurring this year is by participating in one of the breeding soundness exams (BSE) that several Purdue Extension Offices are sponsoring in the coming weeks.

There is some confusion about BSE and what they can tell you.

Producers need to realize that BSE helps you identify bulls that have reduced fertility and not just those which are sterile.

They also provide you with a "snapshot" view of what the reproductive status is of your bull.

Realizing what the reproductive status of your bull is especially important this year since Indiana experienced extremely cold weather in December, January and February. That cold weather could potentially have caused your bull to suffer from frostbite and ultimately hurt your bull's ability to breed.

Breeding soundness exams start with a physical examination of the bull.

During this process, they look at the feet, legs, eyes., etc., to determine if there are any issues that would prevent your bull from moving around smoothly.

In addition to the physical examination that does occur, a semen sample is collected and evaluated. The sample is evaluated for motility and is stained for further evaluation of semen characteristics in the lab.

Overall, the exam typically takes under 15 minutes and is done by either a trained veterinarian or Ph.D. animal scientists.

By participating in one of these BSE's, you will have a better understanding of your bull's ability to breed. It is important to realize that if your bull passes the exam, it does not guarantee pregnancies.

However, if your bull fails the exam, it means there is a very good chance your cows will not be bred.

Please realize that younger bulls (under 16-months), may not have reached puberty and could receive an unsatisfactory evaluation.

It is suggested that you have your bulls participate in a BSE approximately 60 days before breeding season to ensure your bull is fertile, free of diseases, and physically sound.

This spring, several Purdue Extension Offices have organized BSE's at locations throughout the state. Most of the exams are conducted locally and there are no health risks associated with participating in them.

Cost for an exam usually ranges from $45-$80. The BSE's throughout the state include:

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

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

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

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

* Morgan County, april 15, 8:30 a.m. Contact Chris Parker at 765-342-1010.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* March 11 -- Southern Indiana Pork Conference, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Dubois County Fairgrounds. RSVP by today at 812-482-1782,

* March 12 -- Owen County Garden Club Meeting, Owen County Extension Office, and

* March 25 -- Quad Co. PARP, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Equipment Technologies, Inc., Mooresville. Call 812-829-5020 to RSVP by March 15.