Case Study: Bull Fertility Testing

Case Study: Bull Fertility Testing

An infertile or sub-fertile bull can be catastrophic to a herd. Whether you have a single bull or rotate several bulls, the impact of one sub-fertile bull will lead to significant financial losses. In the past, you may not have known a bull wasn’t doing his job until the cows were presented to be scanned or at calving. By performing a bull fertility check, problems can be identified and solutions found before it is too late! Although it cannot guarantee  fertility, a bull breeding soundness exam (BBSE) is a relatively quick and economic procedure for screening bulls. A vet’s role in fertility has largely been orientated around the cows, however in the last few years the equipment to carry out examinations on bulls has improved dramatically as well as becoming much more affordable. We have recently invested in the equipment to carry out this service and Adam and Gerard have undertaken the training and have carried out the procedure on many bulls.

When should a bull be tested?

  • Routine fertility screening (like an MOT) about 2 months before each breeding season.
  • Testing a bull suspected of poor fertility.
  • Pre/post purchase. We are happy to go to the seller’s farm to do this for you. We can take a quick blood sample at the same time to prevent a number of infectious diseases being brought onto your farm.
  • Prior to sale.

What does bull fertility testing involve?

  • Clinical examination
  • Eyes, teeth, mobility and feet and checked for any abnormalities.
  • Examination of Genitalia
  • The testes and internal sex glands are examined for any abnormalities. Scrotal circumference is measured, when it comes to fertility the bigger the better!
  • Collection and examination of a semen sample
  • A semen sample is collected by inserting a probe into the rectum and applying a voltage. This may make your eyes water but causes minimal discomfort!
  • Examination of semen/sperm sample
  • Any abnormalities such as low sperm count, poor swimmers, abnormal sperm and infection can be seen.

In order to perform the testing we need the bull to be restrained in a crush with good access to underneath and behind
the bull. We also need a power supply and a clean table not too far from the crush (farm kitchens work well!)
Bull fertility testing does not guarantee fertility, but it is a relatively quick and economic way of screening out many problem bulls. Over 95% of bulls will produce an accurate sample. For more information please phone the Farm Department on 01746 713 911 and ask to speak to Adam or Gerard.


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