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We bought a young bull at an auction about 4 months ago and believe the bull to be about 18 to 24 months old. He has tried to breed my small herd of cows 2-3 times but does not seem to be getting the job done. We took him to the vet to have him tested and he showed to be alright for breeding. Is it possible he is just too young to breed the cows and that given time he will grow up and be good or could something else be going on that we don't know? The vet did mention Trichanosis, or something like that, but said it is very involved to test for. Meanwhile we borrowed a friend's bull to take care of our cows. Marlene
-- Marlene Leiby (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 30, 2001
Hi, Marlene. Unless he is very short legged and your cows are exceptionally tall, he should easily be breeding by that age. My young holsteins generally start at 10 months (although they are a bit hit or miss at that point) and at 12-14 months hit high gear. I hope you didn't import a problem into your herd with him, or your neighbor's herd, either. Have your cows been checked by the vet, too? The problem might be with them, instead.
-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (email@example.com), June 30, 2001.
Definitely check out your cows and at the same time check your feed ration. There are several feed problems that can, over time, result in an inability to reproduce, or early resorption of the fetus so that it seems the cow never got bred when you start noticing the problem. I don't know what area of the country you are in, but trace minerals can sometimes play a large part in this sort of problem.
-- Sandra Nelson (Magin@starband.net), July 01, 2001.
What tests did the vet do? Did he pull sperm to see if it was viable. A breeding soundness exam is pretty basic. Why would he bring up Trich if you have only had him 4 months, you certainly wouldn't see abortions from it yet. The exam for trich would be on the cows he has bred, we have though seen chlymydia cultured on the sheath of an adult buck. Are you saying he is mounting the cows, and not ejaculating, or that they are coming back into heat? Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 01, 2001.
Thank you everyone for the suggestions. The vet did a breeding soundness and everything was alright. The bull is mounting the cows and I'm pretty sure he is ejactulating, but the cows come back into heat. I think I am feeding a pretty good "range cube" and they are not thin even though grass is getting in short supply due to the drought here in Texas. We will probably start feeding alfalfa shortly. The milk cow has been getting alfalfa all along and she hasn't been bred yet. I will see if the borrowed bull is taking care of business in about 2 weeks, the first cow he bred would be due to come back into heat if she didn't breed, if that happens, we will check out the cows to make sure they are alright. As far as the trich, all I know is he mentioned taking scrapings from the bull every 2 weeks for 6 weeks and sending this off to some University. He didn't mention anything about the cows being tested. Thanks again. Marlene
-- Marlene Leiby (email@example.com), July 01, 2001.
Geez! It seems odd that the trichomonas test for male cattle is so much more complicated than the test for female humans. In the lab, we would just get a freshly-taken vaginal swab and do a saline mount. Usually, you could see 'em swimming around. They would also show up on Gram stains, to the trained eye. Both of these are a one-time, very simple collection. My two cents.
-- Laura Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 04, 2001.