AgWatch


Bull Clinic Report

ELDON COLE

MT. VERNON, MO.
   The five bull breeding soundness clinics held in March had 198 head evaluated for breeding soundness. When all the results were in we set a record with 94.9 percent of the bulls passing. Since we began the clinics in 2005 the long-term average is an 89.6 percent passing rate. The previous best average was 93.9 percent in 2009 with the poorest an 83 percent passing rate in the fall of 2008.
   Besides the five clinics, I’ve spoken with other veterinarians and they’re also finding a higher passing rate this spring. The consensus is it must have been the mild winter that made the positive results possible.
   Other noteworthy items from the clinics include: There were 23 different breeds and crosses of bulls in the clinics; the leading breed was Angus with 64 head (32 percent); If you combine Hereford and Polled Herefords they were second in numbers at 22. next most popular breed was Charolais; 20 of the bulls had pink eye scars but still had some vision in that eye; 17 bulls had rather serious toe-hoof problems.
   Average bull age was 3.0 years with a range from 11 months to 10 years; on my soundness score which goes from 1 = poor to 9 = perfect, the average was 5.5 the range was 2 to 8, the 2’s and 3’s are usually in bad need of hoof trimming or corn removal.
   Speaking of hooves, you may have seen that the American Angus Association is collecting hoof scores to hopefully generate expected progeny differences. They’re asking breeders to submit hoof angle and claw set scores at yearling data collection time., The cattle should not have had any hoof work done on them prior to scoring.
   The hoof angle that receives a 5 score would have a 45 degree angle to the pastern and be considered perfect. A 1 is too straight in the pastern while a 9 has an extreme set to the pastern with a very weak pastern.
   As for claw set, a 5 is desired with some space between the toes with the toes being basically straight and symmetrical. Toes or hooves that curl a little would be 6, 7 and 8 scores. In contrast if the toes are spread apart excessive they would score from a 4 down to a 1.
   During the clinics I scored all the bulls even though they were out of the desired age range. I found very few that I considered perfect. As for claw set, there’s more curved toes than I thought. I also seemed to see more weak pasterns, scores 6 to 8. There were very few really straight pasterns. This latter condition usually results in a stiff, short-strided walk by the animal.
   Hopefully, the Angus effort will get more persons looking at feet and leg problems and someday an EPD could be a reality for hooves, etc. ∆
   ELDON COLE: Extension Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri
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