Raising bull calves for retention

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Well-known member
May 1, 2016
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Texas Panhandle
Good morning. I have been crossbreeding a Red Gelbvieh bull to straight RA cows for 3 calving seasons now. The calves always look great, grow like a weed and are dog gentle. I really like the muscling of both heifers and bull calves. I was thinking about retaining some bull calves this year from my fall group, and was wondering if anyone had any advice on feeding etc after weaning for maximum growth. Thanks for your input.
As long as they reach 1000 lbs and sexual maturity by the time you want them breeding does "maximum growth" matter? As long as the genetics you desire are there it doesn't matter bow big they get. A 1600 lb somewhat stunted bull will last longer than a 2400 lb one will if they are walking far.

RA and GV are a good cross. We've had several.
Good hay and 6 lbs or barley or corn will get you there.
too late to collect birth weights, but that helps sales.
I agree with gcreekch about not feeding for maximum growth and you should be able to eyeball more or less grain
as needed as they grow, you don't want butterballs or undernourished breeding stock, but a happy medium.
Don't overlook a good mineral program for them.
Thank you guys, when I said maximum growth I may have missed spoke. Not trying to blow them up. I've searched for a feeding program for bull calves and other than wheat pasture I have had no luck. I agree with you on the pounds, not going for a 2400# bull for sure. We do have birth weights. Bull calvers we're from 78-85#, heifers 65-78lbs. Butch can you elaborate more on mineral program. We use iodized range blocks year round. Thanks again.
First pic is of the bull we use the others are of this falls calves. We have 12 bull calves in this group and all at 4 weeks old are muscled up and look great. We use only a 20% cube in winter months and some hay, and 100% pasture grass with mineral in the warmer months.
Ditto the comments about not pushing bulls too hard on feed. Too much fat can decrease fertility and once that fat melts off there is no hiding what he is really made of. Unfortunately the saying "fat sells" is true as there are guys who say they don't like fat bulls but are the same ones bidding on the fattest bulls on a sale because the extra fat makes them look bigger than they really are. Another thing you see some guys do is overwork a yearling bull too. While you can probably get away with putting a yearling on 20-25 head the rule of thumb should be 1 female per month of age so if you turn him out at 15 months of age then 15 females is more ideal not only for his development but it also increases your odds of a tighter calving window without any open females.

We've probably not followed the 1 female per month by the book all the time ourselves. We try to AI a group of females in advance of turning the bull out so the years we've broken in an new bull we're hoping we had a high conception rate with our AI program so the bull isn't too busy the 3 weeks following our timed/synched AI. There are years we may have a yearling bull that comes out of pasture in rough shape due to a really hot and dry summer but he usually gets at least 8 months of downtime to recover as we typically only have the bull out from May 20ish till about Aug 15th in order to keep our calving season to start late Feb with AI calves and ideally like to be done by May 1st with natural but leave a bit of a safety net leaving the bull out through early August.

We usually retain 3-5 bulls a year for sale and may keep 1 of the bunch for ourselves and sell the rest but when we evaluate them the #1 criteria is would we use that bull in our own program. Getting birth weight along with weaning and yearling weights and any other measurable data on a bull throughout it's life is useful to track a bulls performance. One thing we say is if we wouldn't use him ourselves then we probably should not have keep him intact. Even between weaning and yearling age it's interesting to see how much they can change as they mature. We had 1 bull at weaning last year we were certain would be our next herd bull and by the time the bulls got to yearling age and we got all the yearling data including an ultrasound scan for carcass traits we still liked him but liked another bull even better that we wound up keeping and having no problem selling the one we originally liked.
Thank you for all the info. I always enjoy hearing how other operators run different aspects of their business.
Decent looking sire,should be some good ones in there..don't push em hard and don't starve em either...like Jeanne wrote, feed em enough to realize their potential... And don't be scared to use the knife...

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