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Bull Development Weaning to Breeding

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Stickney94

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My small operation has been AI only, but we decided to retain a home raised bull that we just weaned. For those here that have experience -- any tips/advice to get this bull from now to breeding in July? The bull will be 14+ months when we'd like to employ him.

We have always retained heifers and developed them for breeding. But all bull calves are steered at birth and fed for slaughter from weaning on.

So I'm looking for any recommendations on feed rations, vaccinations, minerals -- any advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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I would feed him like you feed/develop your heifers. Well, I guess I don't know how you develop your heifers - LOL. You want to feed him less than a finishing steer, but you want him to grow to his potential. Growth, not feedlot fat.
When using a bull, your cows and bull should be vaccinated with Vibrio. You can get BoviShield 5L5V (thats Lepto 5 + Vibrio). There are many products - or even straight Vibrio vaccine.
Hard to recommend without knowing what you do with the rest of your herd.
My herd pretty much gets the works. My calves get 3 sets of MLV before they are a year old. Spring calving cows get MLV in fall & fall calving cows get MLV in spring. Calves are dewormed with a pour-on and a drench in summer than again in fall. Cows get dewormed 2x year - mid summer & fall.
If you are not feeding loose mineral - you should.
 

Rydero

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I would recommend not guessing about nutrition. I use Cowbytes software (I'm sure there's others) to develop my rations. I input feed test results or if I don't have they have approximate values for many different feeds built in.

It's difficult to answer your question directly because so much information is needed. What's his weight now? What do you want him to weigh and when? What's the temperature? What's the temperature going to be next month etc.? How much mud in the pen he's in and what's the average wind speed? Most importantly - what feed do you have on hand and what's the protein and tdn of that feed? What are you willing and able to purchase to feed him? I'm sure I'm forgetting questions...

For $50 and a bit of time you can develop a ration, play with it and change it as conditions and your animals change. I can't explain enough how valuable it is to have an accurate idea what your animals need and when. You can easily save what it'll cost you.
 
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Stickney94

Stickney94

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I would feed him like you feed/develop your heifers. Well, I guess I don't know how you develop your heifers - LOL. You want to feed him less than a finishing steer, but you want him to grow to his potential. Growth, not feedlot fat.

Well I might get in trouble, but I've generally fed my heifers all the baleage and hay they want and a slow ramp up of corn through the winter. Around March/April we make our final decisions on which heifers move to the breeding pen and which stay in the fat pen. At that time those heifers are getting 6-7 lbs of corn a day. But when they move to the breeding pen (at roughly 11 months old they get a hay/mineral ration only).

I don't have the # of pens nor the TMR to do a really sophisticated ration.
 
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Stickney94

Stickney94

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I would recommend not guessing about nutrition. I use Cowbytes software (I'm sure there's others) to develop my rations. I input feed test results or if I don't have they have approximate values for many different feeds built in.
There is a free MS Excel ration calculator from the University of Minnesota that I use.

It's cold. Windy. Sometimes muddy. Sometimes frozen solid 8 feet deep. haha (I live in MN). He will have a pen that has plenty of indoor space though.

He weighs 650 lbs now. By June/July -- based on experience with finishing steers -- he should be pretty easily 1,100.

I want to use him to clean up my herd after I do AI -- so he will cover both cows and a few heifers.
 
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Stickney94

Stickney94

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Like Jeanne said, you do not want him looking like a show steer. Lot's of problems will come along with that, and he won't last very long.

Understood. What is a reasonable amount of rate of gain to shoot for? What is a reasonable amount of grain to feed daily?

He will have a mix of good quality alfalfa and orchard/brome grass for hay along with corn stalks for additional roughage (and minerals of course).
 

Silver

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If it was me I'd never let the grain get over 8 lbs. I know "grain" is rather generic here, but you won't ruin any feet with that amount and they'll still frame up well enough.
Nothing worse than going to look at bulls and you can smell that sour smell when you get out of the truck. You know your trip was wasted.
 

simme

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The genetic potential of the bull is set when he is born. Amount of feed he gets won't change that. Lots more bulls damaged by overfeeding than by underfeeding. Bull tests run by universities seem to be the worst at overfeeding and ruining bulls. They like the "prestige" of having high gaining bulls. Max ADG is not a good goal. As others have mentioned, you want the bull to grow, but not get fat. You want the bull to be big enough to breed your cows when you plan to use him. You want him to have enough condition to last through the breeding season. I would say to shoot for a BCS of 6 when you turn him out. No need to feed him an amount that will go beyond that. With good hay and/or pasture, it does not take a lot of feed to achieve that starting with a young bull. 5 or 6 pounds of feed a day might be enough. Evaluate his condition weekly and adjust as you go. If he is not getting fat, you could feed more. But, if he is putting on much fat, cut back. Feed a growing ration more than a finishing ration. Go easy on the corn. As far as rate of gain, if he weighs 650 now and you go 3 pounds per day, he would be about 1300 pounds in July. My thoughts are based on living in the south. Might need a bit more in a cold climate.
Regardless, most bull sales have over conditioned bulls. Most buyers will agree that fat bulls are bad. But, the buyers still tend to select and purchase bulls with too much condition. They look too good to pass up. And that is why the sellers overcondition.
 
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Stickney94

Stickney94

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Much appreciated on responses Silver and Simme.

When do ya'll do a BSE? At a year old? younger? older?
 

MLFuller

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We target 3.00 to 3.25 ADG on our bulls and that is what we feed for. We want them to grow and express their potential without getting fat or causing foot issues. Wherever you get your feed from should have a nutritionist or someone that can recommend a feed for developing bull(s) and how much to feed for each pound of gain. We weigh probably once a month to make sure they are gaining what we expect them to gain. If not, we adjust the amount of feed (if they are gaining more than expected, we might lower it) or change the ration (if they aren't eating it or getting too fat). We like a lot of roughage in the feed (cottonseed hulls, etc.) as we don't want the feed too "hot" and the bulls tend to enjoy the roughage.

One other thing is depending on what your cows eat during breeding season, it helps to let the bull get use to that a month or two before turn out (if it is just the pasture, or cubes, etc.). I don't like the bull going from sitting in a pen eating grain and hay to the pasture. Like to work him into it to let him "harden" up.
 
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Stickney94

Stickney94

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Thanks for all the advice in this thread.

A new question -- I chose this calf purposely as he is a Hoover Dam son out of a cow that is very good (consistent calves). Both HD and her have high docility scores.

But the calf is a little snorty. I'm working on just being around him and trying to tame him down. But I'm curious if bull calves (he's 9 months) get a bit snorty at this age? Any tips/suggestions for calming him down would be appreciated.
 

Ky hills

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Thanks for all the advice in this thread.

A new question -- I chose this calf purposely as he is a Hoover Dam son out of a cow that is very good (consistent calves). Both HD and her have high docility scores.

But the calf is a little snorty. I'm working on just being around him and trying to tame him down. But I'm curious if bull calves (he's 9 months) get a bit snorty at this age? Any tips/suggestions for calming him down would be appreciated.
Sometimes some of our calves will be a little distant at weaning. Most will calm down an respond to feed pretty fast. I have had some bull calves get a bit aggressive acting around a year of age. Most will settle down when turned out with cows.
I have zero confidence in Angus docility EPD's. Had some calves by a popular bull touted as a high docility bull. Those calves were the absolute craziest I've dealt with. My Hoover Dam calves though have been good natured. Recently sold a young bull out of a CC&7 daughter, that was hot as firecracker. He could get fighting mad quick, when trying to sort or load, and was pretty high strung any other time. We sold him as a feeder.
 

Nick Wagner

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Sometimes some of our calves will be a little distant at weaning. Most will calm down an respond to feed pretty fast. I have had some bull calves get a bit aggressive acting around a year of age. Most will settle down when turned out with cows.
I have zero confidence in Angus docility EPD's. Had some calves by a popular bull touted as a high docility bull. Those calves were the absolute craziest I've dealt with. My Hoover Dam calves though have been good natured. Recently sold a young bull out of a CC&7 daughter, that was hot as firecracker. He could get fighting mad quick, when trying to sort or load, and was pretty high strung any other time. We sold him as a feeder.
That’s been an observation here too Ky, seems to be no correlation between docility EPD and how friendly the calf is.
 

moses388

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If it was me I'd never let the grain get over 8 lbs. I know "grain" is rather generic here, but you won't ruin any feet with that amount and they'll still frame up well enough.
Nothing worse than going to look at bulls and you can smell that sour smell when you get out of the truck. You know your trip was wasted.
I have not heard of the "sour smell." Please explain.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Sour smell - I think of a feedlot smell. Cattle on heavy grain ration. The smell of money if cattle are gaining good!! LOL
Genetics are what you see with EPD's - the actual environment the calf/bull is raised has more to do with their temperament than their genetics. But, if a "nut" is born because of genetics, it's pretty hard to turn them around!
 

Ky hills

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Sour smell - I think of a feedlot smell. Cattle on heavy grain ration. The smell of money if cattle are gaining good!! LOL
Genetics are what you see with EPD's - the actual environment the calf/bull is raised has more to do with their temperament than their genetics. But, if a "nut" is born because of genetics, it's pretty hard to turn them around!
I agree that the environment that a calf is raised in has a great deal to do with its disposition. If a calf doesn't see much human activity around it, then it is more often than not going to be nervous. If the calf's dam is flighty then that can imprint on the calf as well.
The EPD's for docility seem to be much more of a judgement call for what ever is acceptable in a given program from what I can see. If a bull is in the single digits or negative then I put more dependence in that end of of the spectrum as its likely definitely something there. When I was having AI work done on some registered Angus, I chose a sampling of several different bulls over a few years time. The cows were all reasonable to work with, not pets but hardly any flight zone at all. Their calves were the same with the exception of two by a bull touted as having top of the breed docility EPD's. They were crazy wild, unlike any of the others.
The same cow's calves from other years and other bulls were calm much like their mothers.
 

moses388

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I agree with you Ky hills.

When a bull sees you coming which do you want him to think -
1) Here comes that guy looking for a fight.
or
2) Here comes that guy with a snack/treat.
 

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