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Bull Body Condition Is Important to Breeding Success

By   /  March 2, 2020  /  Comments Off on Bull Body Condition Is Important to Breeding Success

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When a cow comes up open in a pregnancy check, we often assume it’s because of some fault with the cow. Maybe she was too thin or not cycling well at breeding time. But maybe it’s not the cow at all. According to Karla Wilke, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Range Management and Cow/Calf Specialist, it could be an issue with the bull’s body condition.

Photo by Troy Walz


According to Wilke, bulls in a body condition of 5 or 6 have better semen quality than those in a 4 or 7. In addition, they can lose 100 to 200 pounds during breeding season. That’s the equivalent of one to two body condition scores. That means that if your bull isn’t in a BCS of 5.5 to 6.5 now, you have about 90 days to improve his body condition to something that will serve you well during the breeding season.

Is Good Grass Enough?

Spring is typically a time when bulls are fed hay when green grass is not available, a ration that can help them maintain weight, but not gain. Here are some feeding examples for different quality hay and different supplements to help a 1300 pound bull gain 100 pounds.

Time Frame Hay Quantity/Quality Supplement
90 Days 35 Pounds meadow hay
(56% TDN 10% CP)
1 pound Distillers Grain Based Cube
60 Days 31 Pounds meadow hay 3.5 pounds Distillers Grain Based Cube
90 days 29.5 pounds millet hay
(54% TDN, 8% CP)
14 pound of corn silage
(68% TDN 8% CP)
60 days 23 pounds millet hay 27 pounds of corn silage,
4 pounds of wet distillers grains (108% TDN, 30% CP)


While you may not be feeding this kind of hay, or these particular supplements, this can give you and idea of the quantity and quality of feed you’d need for weight gain. Since mature bulls often weigh more than 1300 pounds, remember to adjust feed quantities accordingly.

Evaluate Bull Body Condition Early

Sixty days is the minimum amount of time for improving bull body condition, so it’s a good idea to check your animals now. This helpful booklet from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension has everything you need to know about body condition scoring for beef cows.

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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

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