BULL Breeding Soundness Evaluations may represent just ‘one snapshot in time’, but they are the best insurance beef producer can buy to ensure a bull purchase can do the job he’s been hired for.
Bull breeding soundness evaluation (BBSE) is the subject of a new Youtube video produced by FutureBeef’s YouTube channel.
Futurebeef is a collaborative project between MLA and the governments of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, working for a profitable and sustainable northern beef industry.
“It’s important to measure bull fertility to ensure the bull is sound and able to join cows efficiently at the start of the breeding season,” explains veterinarian and star of the new video, Dr Jo Connolly, from Bos Vets, Bookara WA.
A BBSE includes a physical examination, semen testing to examine motility and morphology (percent normal sperm) and a scrotal circumference measurement.
Bull Check is the Australian Cattle Veterinarians Association’s accredited scheme for assessing bull soundness. Accredited veterinarians undergo additional training and examination to ensure all vets are at a set standard.
Dr Connolly starts the physical examination with the bull in a race.
“We examine his joints and hooves, making sure that he’s sound. We have a look right around the bull checking that his eyes and his head are okay; we make sure that his sheath and prepuce has no abnormalities. I’ll examine the upper reproductive tract, which is the prostate, the ampullae and the seminal vesicles just to make sure there are no abscesses,” she said.
A scrotal circumference measurement is taken around the diameter of the greatest part of the testicles. The scrotal circumference measurement is important, as it’s a check that the bull has the potential to produce enough semen over the mating period.
“To assess semen quality, I’ll do a crush side test assessing the motility, which is the forward progression of the semen and I give that a percentage out of 100,” Dr Connolly said.
The semen sample is then sent to an accredited morphology assessor, because a high-powered microscope is needed to make sure there are no defects. Such microscopes are not compatible with crush-side work.
While a BBSE is an important gauge on a bull’s fertility, it is in fact just one ‘snapshot in time.’
“The bull can walk out the crush and get an injury that will impact on his fertility,” Dr Connolly said.
“An injury or illness, often with a spike in temperature, can also damage the sperm,” she said.
Fit for service
Western Australian Santa Gertrudis bull breeder Mark Madew, of Cundarra Santa stud near Gingin started doing Bull Checks four or five years ago.
“It was originally to ensure our breeding bulls were fit and ready to work at the start of each breeding season,” he explains in the video.
“Secondly it ensures that the bulls we sell as part of our seedstock operation are fit and guaranteed to work for the people who buy them.
“It’s a critical part of our operation and I’d encourage commercial producers to consider getting a BBSE evaluation done. There’s no way of telling a bull’s fertility just by looking at him – you need to test him and make sure he is working,” Mr Madew said.
Click the link below to access to new BBSE video