How much Grain to feed your Bull?

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USAxBrad

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I pulled my 28 month old sim/angus bull back in February and started feeding him hay, mineral and a rolled corn/pellet mix. He gets 8lbs in the morning, 8lbs in the evening. It's a 14% protien mix. Is he getting the right amount, too little or too much. Thank you!
 

Black and Good

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How much does he weigh? When I'm trying to get mine back in breeding condition I give them between 1.5 to 2% of their body weight. Start them out at 1% for a couple weeks then move them up. B&G
 

Bigfoot

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If your roughage is decent, I think your in good shape. I put my bulls up in February and bring em out in mid May. They split 50 pounds between 4 or 5 head. They're usually dressed for the occasion by spring.
 
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USAxBrad

USAxBrad

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Thanks Bigfoot and B&G I would say 1700 to 1900lbs, didn't run him through on the scale when we pulled him off.
 

SPH

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Our situation may be a little different than some as our bulls spend more "down time" during the year than they do breeding in the pasture - usually 4 months in the pasture and 8 months away from the cows as we like to keep our calving window fairly tight in the spring and like to do the bulk of our calving in March and April. For the most part during his down time all he'll get is grass in the lots we put him in to graze until the winter when we start to put hay out then he maybe gets a few pounds of cracked corn with the cows close to calving in the maternity lot early in the year during calving season. That's enough down time he should be able to recover without needing to put him on a feed ration program as you don't want to put too much condition on your bulls as it could affect their fertility if they get too fat. The only times we maybe supplement a little extra feed to a bull after pulling him from the pasture is when using a yearling or 2 year old as sometimes a younger bull can come out of the pasture looking a little rough, especially if it's a hot and dry summer plus the fescue in our summer pasture can be rough on all our cattle in general some years. But in general we try to let our bulls gain back the weight they lost during breeding season mostly by grazing and hay in the late fall and winter.

Now when holding over weaned bulls to develop for sale or to use ourselves as yearlings we will separate them off from the rest of the calves around Dec. 1 and put them on their own feed program where much like Black and Good says he does, we start them at around 1-1.5% of their body weight and gradually work them up to 2% on a feed ration and free choice hay then start to back them off that ration closer to breeding season. It's a fine line to walk as the saying is "fat sells" but I don't think you should get too carried away with trying to get to a certain weight at a mature age rather than what kind of condition the bull is carrying. A fat bull may look good but a leaner bull may be more fertile and sound for breeding season. Just like our replacement heifers, we back them down on feed as it gets warmer out and usually then only let them have hay and whatever grass is starting to grow and turn them out with the mature cows a few weeks before breeding season so they don't get too fat and get their fighting out of the way before we have to move them for the summer.
 
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USAxBrad

USAxBrad

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Thank you SPH for taking the time to write that, enjoyed the read, very informative! He is 28 months old and only had 2 months to get back into shape before I kick him back out for 75 days with the springs. And that's what I was worried about was putting too much weight on and effect his fertility. But he will be getting semen checked and worked here in about 2 weeks anyway. Falls he hit 17 of 18, with a 30 day calving window so was pretty happy there but he looked a little rough coming off of them.
 

SPH

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Thanks, I'm admittedly a little long winded sometimes when I write up something but I'd rather be thorough than too vague and have to follow up with multiple responses.

Yeah it sounds like you are in a little different situation than we are so it's really all about doing what you feel fits your environment and management situation the best. A working bull doesn't need to be fat but if you think he's too thin when you bring him in then by all means give him a little something to put some weight back on if you have to turn him around that quickly as you still need him to be healthy. Sounds like he's doing his job though, 30 day calving window is indeed a very good job out of him and glad to see you are on top of getting him semen checked before putting him out again. That's 1 practice I don't know why everyone isn't as diligent about doing as you have a lot riding on a bull being fertile and able to breed cows so getting him checked prior to breeding season should just be habit.
 

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