Breeding Soundness

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It is important that all Angus bulls selected for use within a breeding program are sound and capable of getting their allocation of cows in calf within a given time frame. When evaluating bulls for soundness, it is important to focus on components that will adversely affect the function of the bull, and avoid the distractions of aesthetic features.

The recommended procedure for evaluating bulls is the Veterinary Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation (VBBSE) examination as developed by the Australian Cattle Veterinarians. A full VBBSE assessment of an animal includes individual identification, history (including vaccinations) plus five key components, namely:

  • A general physical examination including structure (conformation) and upper reproductive tract
  • An examination of the testes and measurement of scrotal size (see minimum scrotal circumference standards)
  • Collection and assessment of a semen sample
  • A serving assessment to evaluate libido and mating ability
  • Laboratory examination of sperm morphology.

A pass on a VBBSE assessment is not an express guarantee of breeding soundness, but rather an indication of potential soundness in a normal mating situation. Angus bulls should only be joined within a breeding program if they have been subject to and have passed a VBBSE examination for as many as possible of the components listed above.

The Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) recommends all five components be used for higher value bulls, or in intensive situations where bulls will be single sire mated, or subject to heavier mating loads.

In situations where VBBSE is not conducted, it is important to assess bulls visually and/or consider any assessment of structural soundness that may be available. Information from independent assessment of structural soundness by an accredited assessor is often provided on Angus bulls.

Key considerations include assessment of:

• testicle size and consistency
• sheath
• hind leg structure
• front leg structure
• feet conformation

Further information on assessing breeding soundness is available from the Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) website: