Breeding Soundness Exams do and do not Evaluate

My name is Heather Schlesser, with the University
of Wisconsin-Extension in Marathon County. Today I am going to talk to you about the
breeding soundness examination, and what it does and does not evaluate. The breeding soundness exam is a quick, down
and dirty way of assessing whether or not your bull is potentially fertile or not. During the exam, the technician will asses
physical defects of the bull, the overall body conditions for the bull, and the reproductive
tract of the bull. During the physical examination, the technician
will work to see if there are any warts, physical defects, leg abnormalities of the bull that
will prevent him from walking the pasture. He will also assess the overall condition
of the bull to see if he has enough body condition score to make it through the breeding season. The technician will assess the various reproductive
tract components. He will observe the scrotum, and look for
any signs of damage or injury to the scrotum. He will palpate the testicles, feeling for
any abnormalities or softness in the tissue, indicating degeneration. He will also palpate the epididymus, again
feeling for softness or degeneration of the epididymus. The technician should also evaluate the penis,
looking for any hair rings, or frenulums that might be present. If hair rings or frenulums are present at
the time of the bull breeding soundness exam, they may be able to be corrected at this time. The penis is also evaluated for warts, which
if small enough, may be removed at the time of the breeding soundness exam as well. Once the physical examination or the external
examination of the bull is completed, the technician should also assess the semen quality. The technician should collect ejaculations
in a humane manner, working with the bull to collect the sample, and then promptly examining
it underneath a microscope. The technician should also assess the color
of the semen, which should be opaque and milky white. He should assess the concentration of the
semen. He should also assess sperm motility and morphology. You want progressive motility greater than
40%, and no more than 25% of the sperm should have morphological defects. Sperm morphology is best measured after staining
the sample and then observing at 400x magnification with oil immersion. You should make sure the technician is not
just looking at the semen under a glass slide. The results of the evaluation will tell you
if the breeder is a satisfactory potential breeder, or whether or not the bull needs
to be looked at a different time. Maybe it’s a young bull that doesn’t have
quality semen right now, but there is the potential for that semen quality to increase. Bulls coming off of winter time will sometimes
have lower than average semen quality, and will need to be reassessed at a later period
of time. The breeding soundness exam can also tell
you if the bulls are unsatisfactory potential breeders, meaning
they probably will not breed, even after a reassessment. We classify the bulls as potential breeders,
because the breeding soundness exam does not take into account several factors. The first of these factors is being the bull’s
libido, or the bull’s sex drive. You need to measure on your own the serving
capacity of the bulls. How many females does he try to breed within
a given period of time? Besides doing a quick and dirty body condition
scoring, which is not always included in every breeding soundness exam, the test does not
look at the nutrition of the bull. During the breeding season bulls tend to eat
less, they use up body fat, they lose up to 150 lbs during the breeding season.The test
also does not take into account the feed stuff that you are feeding the bull, so you need
to examine your nutrition, and your ration and make sure it’s formulated for the energy
needs of your bull. The breeding soundness exam also does not
take into account social interactions of the bull and other bulls in the pasture, or of
the bull and females within the pasture. The breeding soundness exam does not look
at the bull to female ratio. Keep in mind that if you have a yearling or
a two year old bull, you are going to be able to house fewer females with those bulls, than
if you had a three year old or older bull. Also if there are multiple sires within the
herd, you will notice a pecking order that is established.This pecking order will determine
the dominant bull versus the submissive bull, or the less dominant bull. The dominant bull will get his pick of the
females in the herd, leaving the remainder for those submissive bulls or the less dominant
bulls. The breeding soundness exam also does not
assess the environmental conditions the bull is exposed to. Environmental conditions such as heat stress
or cold stress can affect the semen quality of the bull. Particularly heat stress can affect that bull’s
want to breed. On overly hot days the bull is not going to
want to move and walk the pasture, therefore decreasing his opportunities to breed. The breeding soundness exam also does not
assess the female of the herd. Even if the bull is fertile, we still have
half the equation that we have not looked at. Thank you listening to this video on breeding
soundness exam. If you have any questions, please feel free
to contact me. Thank you.

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