Selecting Your Next Angus Bull

July 3, 2018 2:25 pm

The Angus breed is constantly improving with Angus bulls for sale this year delivering genetics that are, on average, $3.54 per cow mated more profitable than last year. Capitalising on this and making sure your herd continues to benefit from the great work seedstock breeders are doing is not always simple.  

It is important that the selection of any bull not only meets the needs of the business, but complements the current herd and bull team. The impact of getting this wrong can take decades to resolve and mean the performance and profitability of the herd may be compromised.  

Bull selection draws in a huge number of factors and ensuring you are prepared when selecting a bull, not only requires proper planning and research beforehand, but also relies on a keen eye at the point of sale. The “Selecting Bulls” module in the Angus Education Centre breaks down bull selection into eight areas of consideration, which can be used as a checklist when selecting a bull. This checklist includes:

  1. Establish a clearly defined breeding objective
    It is important to recognise what you want out of your breeding program and defining a breeding objective ensures a clear understanding of what is required for success in your operation.
  2. If bull selection involves the purchase of bulls, identify the seedstock breeder or breeders from which bulls will be sourced
    Across Australia each year, hundreds of on-property sales will take place and thousands of bulls will be sold. Identifying a seedstock breeder or breeders means valuable time is not spent considering bulls, which will not add value to your herd. It is important to consider how the breeding objective of the seedstock breeder aligns to your objective and also what information will be available on the bull to support your decision (e.g. full set of BREEDPLAN EBVs, genetic condition status, etc.).
  3. Consider the Angus BREEDPLAN information of the bulls that are available
    The Angus BREEDPLAN EBVs should form the foundation of any bull selection decision.  Ranking bulls on the selection index that aligns closest to your breeding objective will ensure you can prioritise bulls. Bulls with EBVs in undesirable ranges should be disregarded from the prioritised list. To check the available EBVs of registered Angus animals visit the AngusSELECT area on the Angus Australia website.
  4. Consider the genetic condition status of the bulls that are available
    Genetic conditions can cause long-term damage to your breeding program, which is why it is important to disregard any bull with an undesirable genetic condition status. To check the genetic condition status of registered Angus animals, visit the AngusSELECT area on the Angus Australia website.
  5. Consider the breeding soundness of the bulls that are available
    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 in a timely manner. Bulls which have not been subject to and passed a Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation (BBSE) for as many of the components in a BBSE examination as possible should be disregarded. If you are unable to get a BBSE performed on a bull prior to purchasing, it is important to consider the following:
    – Testicle size
    – Sheath
    – Hind leg structure
    – Front leg structure
    – Feet conformation
  6. Consider the health status of the bulls that are available
    The importance of buying bulls which have been appropriately vaccinated and treated cannot be understated and it’s important that these reflect the requirements of cattle on your property. Bulls which do not have the appropriate vaccination and health treatments should be disregarded.
  7. Consider other selection criteria of particular importance to the breeding program
    When selecting a bull, it is important to consider other characteristics which may affect his performance within your operation. Bulls with poor temperaments and bulls with a pedigree closely related to the females to be joined are just two examples of criteria bulls should be disregarded on.
  8. Do not be distracted by aesthetic features or the influence of non-genetic factors on the appearance and performance of bulls.
    The value of a bull comes from the progeny he produces and it is important not to get distracted by non-genetic factors. A large proportion of what we see when examining a bull is the result of the bull’s genetics responding to the environmental conditions he was raise and kept in.  The focus of any bull selection should be on a bull that has better genetics, than the currently used bulls, and that can get the allocated cows in calf in a timely manner.  

Bulls have a significant impact on the performance of a breeding program, as most will sire over a hundred offspring in their lifetime and contribute genetics to the future generation of cows. The process for ensure any bull selection adds value to your herd doesn’t have to onerous, but does need appropriate time and planning put in.  

For further information on any of the areas covered visit the Angus Education Centre and complete the “Selecting bulls” module. CLICK HERE

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