Developing a young bull; feed

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Alan

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This could go on the feed board, put what the heck, this board gets more hits. Would someone please share their weanling bull development program with me. Meaning what types and how much feed they give weanling bull to get them ready to sell or breed as a long yearlings. I realize you have to start with a calf that has the genectics as well as the phenotype and growth potential. Just looking for a feeding program.

Thanks,
Alan
 

Frankie

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We usually send ours to the test station. They're out of our hair and they have nutritionist on hand to be sure the bulls have a balanced diet. But here's an article that might help:

Nutritional Considerations of Weaned or Purchased Bulls
Bull Calves

Probably the most common mistake made in purchasing young, weaning age bulls is failure to provide an adequate diet to continue their growth and development. Often bulls are delivered, turned out with the other bulls, and let to "rough it" until breeding time. Thus, bull development is delayed, sexual maturity is not achieved, and the resulting calf crop is less than it should have been.
The first step in providing adequate nutrition is determining the desired level of performance. Typically, young bulls have 160 days to grow from weaning to yearling age. Because of the growth potential of our current beef population, yearling bulls are heavier than 1,000 pounds. Therefore, young bulls need to have gains of 2.5 daily. Moderate energy diets (those with grain) are needed to attain these performance levels.

For young bulls not intended for gain testing, rations should include concentrates fed (as a minimum) at about 2 percent of body weight. That is, 600-pound calves can easily consume about 10-12 pounds of grain with alfalfa hay or grass hay fed free choice. This will require 18 pounds of total dry matter or about 20 pounds of air dry feed per day. This will help promote rapid growth without excessive fattening. Be certain to start the grain feeding gradually. As the bulls increase in size, the amount of grain must increase to maintain the 2 percent of body weight level unless it is obvious that they need more high-energy feed. At this age the bulls should be growing rapidly, so they need to have 12-13 percent total protein in their diet. Depending on the kind and quality of the roughage and the grain being fed, this will probably require a protein supplement be included in the grain mix. Young bulls may require 16 to 20% protein in the grain mix. Mature bulls require lower concentrations of protein in the diet. However, rumen function may be impaired if the diet does not contain at least 10.5% protein. This is the reason that supplemental protein is still desirable for mature bulls grazing low quality grasses or hays.
One way to manage the feed for young bulls is to offer a high quality grass hay free choice and a concentrate fed at a rate of about 2% of body weight. An example ration for young bulls would be: 44% grass hay (the hay is offered free choice)
43% cracked corn
11% soybean meal
0.9% limestone (calcium carbonate)
.35% salt
.0122% vitamin A-30000
The grain mix could be ground and mixed separately. It should be fed at the rate of 2 pounds per 100 pounds of bull body weight. To mix a one ton batch of the grain portion of the diet, the amounts of ingredients per ton would be as follows:
1566 lbs. corn
392 lbs soybean meal (44%)
29 lbs limestone
11.5 lbs salt
0.5 lbs vitamin A-30000

If smaller amounts of the grain mix are to be fed to young growing bulls, the protein and calcium content must be increased to meet the needs of these rapidly growing animals. Seek assistance from your local extension office. Remember to start the grain feeding program gradually and bring bulls up to the desired intake over at least a two-week warm-up period.
If the producer wishes to use high quality alfalfa (19% crude protein), then the concentrate portion of the ration only needs to be grain and can be provided as 1 part grain and 2 parts alfalfa hay on an as fed basis. These "dry lot" rations should produce at least 2.5 to 3 pounds a day gain for large frame bull calves.

High quality small grain pastures such as rye and ryegrass combination pastures are used to produce similar rates of gain. These are often the pastures used in forage-based gain tests and provide enough energy and protein to achieve average daily gains at about 2.5 pounds per day and the yearling bulls come off the test at about 1000 pounds and in a body condition score of 6. If individual producers choose this method to grow young bulls, they should not forget to supply appropriate mineral mixes to bulls on these lush pastures. Often the critical mineral needs for cattle on small grains are calcium and magnesium such as wheat pasture stocker cattle need to avoid grass tetany.

Yearling bulls

Yearling bulls should be well-grown but not too fat. The energy content of a ration should be reduced if bulls are getting too fat. Fat bulls may fatigue rapidly, contributing to fewer cows conceiving.

For a yearling bull to be used successfully, he should have reached puberty 3 to 4 months before breeding time. The age of a bull at puberty depends on several interrelated factors, but size or weight and breed are probably the controlling factors.

The production of semen by a young bull largely depends on his overall growth as well as the development of his testicles and other reproductive organs. The size of testicles and volume of semen produced are positively correlated.

Bulls should also follow similar nutritional diets from the approximate 60 - 120 days from yearling age until breeding time. All bulls should be gaining weight and maintaining moderate condition during this time. Study the Body Condition Scoring System used for cows. (Oklahoma Beef Cattle Manual). The system uses "1" for emaciated animals and "9" for very obese animals. Therefore an optimum body condition score for young bulls is "6". Perhaps the best way to verbally describe the ideal condition is bloomy but not fat. A young bull will use body stores of energy and lose over 100 pounds during the breeding season. This should come from energy stored as fat (condition) rather than muscle tissue since the bull is still growing. Excessive rapid condition loss lowers the bull's fertility and libido and should be avoided.

Highly Fitted Bulls

Research at Kansas State University has illustrated that young "gain-tested" bulls have normal fertility and libido when allowed to return gradually to moderate fleshiness and hearty physical condition before the breeding season.. In fact many performance tested bulls are returned to the owner's ranch after the gain test in order that they be allowed to be properly conditioned before the sale date. Test station sales usually offer bulls that completed their gain tests about 6 months previously.

Any rancher that purchases a young, highly fitted or conditioned bull should plan to gradually reduce the fleshiness of the bull before the breeding season. To let these bulls down, it is a good practice to start them on a ration that is not too dissimilar to the one they have been accustomed but is 60 to 70 percent of their previous intake. The amount of grain can be reduced at the rate of about 10 percent per week until the desired level is achieved. At the same time substitutions should be made in the form of light, bulky feeds--such as oats or alfalfa hay. Ideally, this letdown should be completed prior to the time bulls are turned out. Dramatic nutritional changes can have an adverse effect on semen production, so it is important that these ration modifications be done gradually. Allow the change to take place gradually instead of a rapid condition and weight loss which could be reflected in a reduced calf-crop next year.

http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/exten/cc-co ... lsale.html

Another article. This one from Alabama Extension: http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0883/

You'll finds lots of info if you Google developing weaned bulls or words to that effect.
 
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Alan

Alan

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Frankie and DOC thank you for the great links. Looks like I'll plenty to look at.

Thanks again,
Alan
 

Frankie

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Alan":39tj6gfe said:
Frankie and DOC thank you for the great links. Looks like I'll plenty to look at.

Thanks again,
Alan

You're welcome. Your local extension office might even have some info. Take some time to figure what it's going to cost you to get him from 7-800 lbs to 1100 lbs in the next few weeks. You'll probably want to keep him seperate from the cows. When we have bulls here, we usually feed twice a day. We use the test station because they can get feed cheaper than we can, they do the feeding, our bulls test alongside some of the best breeders in the state and, very important, they host two sales a year for us to market the bulls if they qualify. Of course, we did have a bull die on test last year. That was a bummer. :(
 

Northern Rancher

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Personally I wouldn't buy a bull fed under that regime-he'd melt like a plastic bag in a campfire breeding cows. Here is a newspaper column I wrote on the subject.

Halleluiah Barley Hit Five Bucks

This spring hundreds of cattlemen will travel thousands of miles and spend millions of dollars in search of their new herd bulls. In these days with DNA markers to tell you how efficient they will feed, how juicy their steaks will be and how tender the cuts plus E.P.D’s for everything from calving ease to growth to how long the daughters will last it should be easy to spend your money wisely. I mean it’s all there- you can use your ranchers eye to appraise his soundness-your vets microscope to check his fertility and the computer to crunch the numbers. Picking the perfect bull for your operation should be easy-set a price range and have at it. In these days of total information it’s simple to pick the bulls that will sell highest-the FATTEST. With all the tools at our disposal invariably ranchers will pick out the fattest bovine stud muffin to waddle their pastures. It doesn’t matter that the extra grain has cooked his feet-crisped his liver and fried his man swimmers into almost total inactivity. Overfeeding is the proverbial sugar in the genetic gas tank of a future beef bull.

Why does it happen-because darn it all they look so good-there is nothing prettier than a pumped up-fluffed out-fresh from the sale beef bull hopping off the trailer back at home. It’s hard to imagine the bedraggled little bag of bones that will come back in the fall. Breeders will defend the practice by proclaiming that bulls lose weight running with cows so they have to go out to pasture fat. Does an NHL coach tell his players to get fat over summer because there’s a long season coming. He doesn’t and most beef bulls have almost as many mating opportunities as pro hockey players.

When barley was cheap it generated good economic sense to fill your bulls up with it and watch the dollars roll in. Maybe now that the skies the limit on grain prices this practice will go by the wayside. In the long run it’s probably in everyone’s best interests including the bulls.
 

Frankie

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Northern Rancher":1lj6rjfq said:
Personally I wouldn't buy a bull fed under that regime-he'd melt like a plastic bag in a campfire breeding cows. Here is a newspaper column I wrote on the subject.

Halleluiah Barley Hit Five Bucks

This spring hundreds of cattlemen will travel thousands of miles and spend millions of dollars in search of their new herd bulls. In these days with DNA markers to tell you how efficient they will feed, how juicy their steaks will be and how tender the cuts plus E.P.D’s for everything from calving ease to growth to how long the daughters will last it should be easy to spend your money wisely. I mean it’s all there- you can use your ranchers eye to appraise his soundness-your vets microscope to check his fertility and the computer to crunch the numbers. Picking the perfect bull for your operation should be easy-set a price range and have at it. In these days of total information it’s simple to pick the bulls that will sell highest-the FATTEST. With all the tools at our disposal invariably ranchers will pick out the fattest bovine stud muffin to waddle their pastures. It doesn’t matter that the extra grain has cooked his feet-crisped his liver and fried his man swimmers into almost total inactivity. Overfeeding is the proverbial sugar in the genetic gas tank of a future beef bull.

Why does it happen-because darn it all they look so good-there is nothing prettier than a pumped up-fluffed out-fresh from the sale beef bull hopping off the trailer back at home. It’s hard to imagine the bedraggled little bag of bones that will come back in the fall. Breeders will defend the practice by proclaiming that bulls lose weight running with cows so they have to go out to pasture fat. Does an NHL coach tell his players to get fat over summer because there’s a long season coming. He doesn’t and most beef bulls have almost as many mating opportunities as pro hockey players.

When barley was cheap it generated good economic sense to fill your bulls up with it and watch the dollars roll in. Maybe now that the skies the limit on grain prices this practice will go by the wayside. In the long run it’s probably in everyone’s best interests including the bulls.

Sounds like sour grapes to me. :)
 

greenwillowhereford II

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2.6 pounds per day average gain is the ideal according to an article I read the other day. I think it's going to be hard to nail down an adg that will fit every bull because of genetic differences. I try to just have an adequate mineral program, and primarily use a 14% creep, with perhaps a bit of sweet feed mixed in. Keep some hay available. And I like to have them in an environment where they can develop their feet and legs on varied terrain.
 

Northern Rancher

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What it is Frankie is 25 years or so of order buying bulls for people and seeing the colossal joke that overfat bulls are-when your spending other peoples money for them you better be buying a product that works. I don't raise bulls to sell-though I've sure been asked too-so I could care less what you feeed them. I do buy several a year and I know what outfits are breeders and which are feeders.
 

KNERSIE

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Alan, maybe you need to specify what your plan for this bull is. There is a big difference in raising a sound bull for own use as a yearling and raising one to compete with buffet bulls to be sold in Association sales where the biggest fattest highest gainer will likely outsell the real world bulls.

I deliberately stayed out of this conversation untill Northern Rancher was called out for sour grapes, but I'll just ask this...

If I offered you $1000 for hitting the target when throwing a ball at it, where are you likely to look?
 

Frankie

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Northern Rancher":2zh4fdld said:
What it is Frankie is 25 years or so of order buying bulls for people and seeing the colossal joke that overfat bulls are-when your spending other peoples money for them you better be buying a product that works. I don't raise bulls to sell-though I've sure been asked too-so I could care less what you feeed them. I do buy several a year and I know what outfits are breeders and which are feeders.

If you don't care what others feed them, why are you pushing an article that incorrect asserts feeding bulls as recommended by the BIF (for example) is a bad thing?

I don't care how you feed bulls (or don't) or which ones you spend other people's money on. I do care when someone misrepresents the facts. And the facts are that feeding young bulls as much as they want to eat won't affect his fertility or soundness. If it did, bull test stations would have gone out of business 15-20 years ago. Instead, they seem to be doing OK, even as the cost of feed has spiked in the last couple of years.

It is also a fact that EVERY bull can't compete at testing stations. Some get sick, some don't gain well. That's why we test them: to weed those bulls out.
 

Northern Rancher

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Well I have years of personal and anecdotal evidence that proves to me that maybe the BIF guidelines might be a bit flawed. If you think full feeding a young bull doesn't compromise fertility or soundness-just shakes his head. Test stations are a dying breed up in Canada-there used to be several in Saskatchewan but to my knowledge there aren't any left. Stuffing a young bull is all about marketing nothing more-nothing less.
 

Frankie

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Northern Rancher":3ndcwf3n said:
Well I have years of personal and anecdotal evidence that proves to me that maybe the BIF guidelines might be a bit flawed. If you think full feeding a young bull doesn't compromise fertility or soundness-just shakes his head. Test stations are a dying breed up in Canada-there used to be several in Saskatchewan but to my knowledge there aren't any left. Stuffing a young bull is all about marketing nothing more-nothing less.

No, "stuffing" a young bull is about identifying those that will produce calves that will perform efficiently in the feedlot. I think that's a major reason Angus is the top breed in the US.

Testing bulls isn't cheap. Considering the hit that the Canadian beef industry took with that first BSE cow, it's not a major surprise that test stations are having problems there. A few years ago, they were springing up all over Texas. For a while it seemed that every cow college in the state was running a bull test.

DNA testing may also eventually replace testing stations. Of our last bulls tested, the lowest gaining bull had the lowest score for gain. Two others had the same score and gained virtually the same.
 

rocket2222

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Frankie":2romesnk said:
No, "stuffing" a young bull is about identifying those that will produce calves that will perform efficiently in the feedlot. I think that's a major reason Angus is the top breed in the US.

Testing bulls isn't cheap. Considering the hit that the Canadian beef industry took with that first BSE cow, it's not a major surprise that test stations are having problems there. A few years ago, they were springing up all over Texas. For a while it seemed that every cow college in the state was running a bull test.

DNA testing may also eventually replace testing stations. Of our last bulls tested, the lowest gaining bull had the lowest score for gain. Two others had the same score and gained virtually the same.

Interesting that you've found the dna test [ markers ] coincide with how they performed on test, you mentioned three, was this a overall across the board accuracy, or they just happened to get three right, say out of 6 or 8 etc. tested. Who did the dna testing.
 

OK Jeanne

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We develop bulls on forage, and they do get pretty chunky without grain. It hasn't affected their semen quality.
Those 3 two year olds that I posted the pictures of a few days ago had a semen check and it was "very good"....
they were pretty fat; but maybe the forage doesn't change the semen quality like full-feed grain does.
 

KNERSIE

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OK Jeanne":2smcrqt6 said:
We develop bulls on forage, and they do get pretty chunky without grain. It hasn't affected their semen quality.
Those 3 two year olds that I posted the pictures of a few days ago had a semen check and it was "very good"....
they were pretty fat; but maybe the forage doesn't change the semen quality like full-feed grain does.

I think it has more to do with the timing of getting fat than just with getting fat per se.

Frankie, while I agree that a GOOD BALANCED feeding regime shouldn't hurt the soundness of structurally correct bulls, I do think that in the long run it probably does affect their longevity. Very few bulls get to breed past 5 years of age nowadays, so its maybe somewhat of a non issue, but from my experience the bulls pushed for maximum growth and ADA tend to show their age quicker.
 

Northern Rancher

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Last I checked cattle were ruminants-one getting fat on forage isn't near the same as getting one fat on grain. If you want to check for feedlot performance feed a sire group of steers out don't cook a bunch of bull calves. Cattle that are bred to do well on forage do very well in the feedlot the reverse isn't always true. We finish the majority of our calves but the main thing affecting profitability is the doing ability of the cowherd-the factory had better be able to run cheap. A fat bull that gained well on the BIF ration tells me nothing really about how his daughters will perform on grass and hay-A moderate ration can still separate the men from the boys without compromising their future usefullness.
 

DOC HARRIS

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A fat bull that gained well on the BIF ration tells me nothing really about how his daughters will perform on grass and hay-A moderate ration can still separate the men from the boys without compromising their future usefullness.
I tend to agree with Northern Rancher and Knersie on this subject of feeding herd bulls. Their potential usefulness should be determined by genetics and ancestors - to a great extent. Nevertheless, feeding tests will reveal the genetic possibilities of an individual within the parameters of their individual fleshing abilities and production environments. It just proves to me that we can anticipate future results with tests, genetics and carefull selection using current knowledge, and still never get to the point of "selection perfection". And the old adage of "It takes two to tango" still holds true in cattle breeding. The female side of the pedigree still contributes 50% to the ultimate bottom line of how the progeny will perform, not only in the feedlot, but in the breeding pasture as well.

DOC HARRIS
 

KMacGinley

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Alan: If you are feeding up a bull for yourself and want him to last, feed no more than 10 lbs of grain with supplement per day. I personally would make half the grain... oats. Supplement could be 2 lbs of soybean meal or 2 lbs of a 34% pellet. With that put him on a free choice good quality hay. Also provide free choice loose mineral. Even better, if you are not in a hurry, skip the grain entirely and feed him the best quality forage you can find.
If on the other hand, you are raising him to sell to others and could care less how long he lasts, feed like the bull tests do. That ration is designed to replace the bull in 2 or 3 years when he totally breaks down. That is a planned obsolecence system.
I think I can guess which you will do, whether you are feeding him for yourself or for others.
 
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Alan

Alan

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Thanks for all the great responses, just what I was looking for.... very direct answers to the question asked. To try to answer some of yours, I raising an M326 bull to use for a clean up bull this year. He is just a few days short of 1 year old. After seeing some of the great looking bulls post here as yearlings and 2 yr olds (OK Jeanne and the Holden bull video)... well my guy isn't even close to those guys, still looks more like a calf. He is probably 850 lbs, no real signs of maturing (neck crest). He has been on free choice hay and gets about 6 lbs of 12% grain twice a day, along with minerals. After reading the responses and some of the links provided I have come to some of these thoughts; He is along way from being in a feed lot situation. He is in a very different enviorment than the 326 bull. Although, his dam is a very easy keeper, seems like she gets fat just smelling the grass. She is also a smaller framed cow, but was a late maturing heifer, small enough she needed a little help on her first calf, easy calving since.

So in a nut shell, just wondering if this guy is a smaller framed, later maturing bull that may need the amount of daily grain bumped up a bit. In addition to being out of his ideal enviormental conditions a bit.

Thanks again for the point on comments.
Alan
 

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