The choice of a breeding bull is a very important moment for the future of the farm - the bull will contribute with 50% of his genetic qualities to the development of the herd. With the right bull, the calves can improve the farm's income exponentially. For example, 200 calves sold for 500 euros each will yield 100,000 euros, or 110,000 if they were sold for 550. This extra 10,000 comes from the improved genetics of the bull, which allows an increase in meat production from his offspring.
Exactly which traits are needed certainly cannot be answered in the same way for all farms. But there are some points that should be considered in any case. For example, the age of the bull should match the calving rhythm of the suckler cow herd what means the bull should already be mature enough at the time the breeding season of the herd starts! Furthermore, correlations between the desired traits have to be considered, e.g. birth weight is positively correlated with growth, but there is a negative correlation with the calving ease. Calving ease should not be neglected, especially in extensive husbandry. Maternal performance such as first-calving age and inter-calving period, are less interesting because they have a lower heritability and are strongly dependent on environment, feeding and management. Milk yield is important if animals are to be produced for the suckler herd, but it is negatively related to meat yield.
It is therefore important in the first instance to consider what traits the bull should have and bring to his new herd before buying a bull.
Literature for detailed information:
- Catita, D. (2013): Como escolher um touro para uma vacada? https://issuu.com/ruminantes/docs/ruminantes_8 (page 14-15)
- Bertram, J. (1992): Bull selection https://futurebeef.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Bull_selection_-_buying_better_bulls.pdf
This Research Innovation has an Impact on:
- Socio-economic resilience: By allowing the calves to have a better genetic potential, the meat production will rise.
- Animal health and welfare: Choosing the right characteristics like good behaviour, high milking capacity, ease of births, high muscle percentage, and others, not only will it improve the animal's productivity but also the animal's welfare and health.
- Production efficiency and meat quality: The use of genetically selected bulls will result in calves with higher daily gains and cows with less time between labours, easy births and higher milking capacity that will benefit the calves growth.