ProDairy Fact Sheets

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Bull Health

Daily management of working bulls will reduce health issues and improve their reproductive performance.

Adapted from Dairy Australia InCalf: Bulls. Power up!

To minimise lameness in bulls:

  • Avoid making bulls walk long distances on stony tracks and train bulls not to come onto concrete yards.
  • Avoid bulls coming into the dairy as they can consume large amounts of concentrates (avoid more than 2-3kg/bull/day)
  • Regularly monitor both working and resting bulls for their reproductive ability.
  • Ideally rotate bulls weekly.
  • Run at least two bulls with the herd at any one time.
  • Remove aggressive or difficult bulls as they are a risk to staff and other animals.
  • Ensure bulls can be handled safely for routine procedures such as vaccinations, lameness treatment or examination.
  • Immediately remove lame, injured or sick bulls from the herd and replace with healthy bulls.

VACCINATIONS:

Follow the same drenching and vaccination programs as for the heifers.
In addition to this:

  • Vibriosis:
    This venereal disease can causes poor reproductive performance. Common signs include poor conception rates after the introduction of bulls, cows and heifers returning to heat, late-term abortions and a prolonged calving pattern.
  • Pestivirus:
    All bulls should be tested and any persistently infected animals should be removed prior to mating.

GROWTH AND HEALTH CHECK:

If rearing your own bulls:

  • Monitor live-weights to ensure adequate growth from birth.
  • Feed young bulls to reach 50% mature weight by 15 months and 85% mature weight by 2 years of age.

If purchasing bulls:

  • Buy virgin bulls whenever possible as they are less likely to introduce venereal diseases to the herd.
  • Settle bulls on the farm at least eight weeks before mating start date.
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