Natural service requires bull management to ensure optimum semen production and libido. Nutrient requirements for a 770-kg bull are approximately equivalent to that of a 545-kg lactating cow producing 4.5 kg of milk daily. Unless severe, effects of nutrition on sperm production are inconclusive, but underfeeding and overfeeding are detrimental to libido. The testicular sperm-production cycle in the bull requires eight weeks to complete, so concern for body condition and nutrient requirements must begin well before the breeding season. A breeding soundness examination (BSE) is a wise investment, particularly in young bulls or if the bull is used in a single-sire herd. If a socially dominant bull in a multiple-sire herd is of low fertility, herd pregnancy rates will be depressed. The exam will detect abnormal sperm morphology, testicular and tract abnormalities, and damage from conditions including fever or frozen scrotum. The BSE results in classification of the bull as a satisfactory or an unsatisfactory breeder. Bulls classifying unsatisfactory can be retested in approximately two weeks, as classification can change, especially in young bulls.
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