As some of you will have seen, we recently attended the International Bull fertility conference in Co. Mayo, Ireland. It was a unique opportunity to hear from some of the key professionals in the world of bull breeding. Speakers came from all over the world for the chance to discuss topics ranging from bull breeding soundness exams to semen collection for AI purposes, with several research presentations on where technology in the area is heading.
One of the key messages from the conference was the need to increase the amount of bull breeding soundness exams we are conducting here in the UK. It is the industry standard in Canada and the Australians are frequently testing thousands of bulls every year. It needs to become the accepted standard here in the UK as we look to improve our national herd.
Their work has demonstrated that approximately 1 in 5 bulls are subfertile and when serving capacity is taken into account this can fall to as low as 1 in 4. These figures do not take into account injuries, infectious disease and heat stress, all of which can in the short term lead to subfertility.
We as vets in the UK need to change the mind set on bull breeding soundness exams as there is a misconception that passing the exam is a guarantee of fertility. It should however be seen as a screening tool to remove subfertile bulls from your herd.
A subfertile bull is a strain on your herds resources and for those looking to produce replacement stock it may reduce the fertility in your herd, long term.
The exam conducted properly and with the right equipment by an experienced vet is an invaluable tool that will prevent the financial and genetic losses that occur from the presence of a subfertile bull in your herd.
Keep an eye on the Facebook page and website for further blogs on the subject.