STOCKTON, Mo. – “It is time to begin preparing for the upcoming breeding season,” says Patrick Davis, University of Missouri Extension livestock field specialist. In preparation for the upcoming breeding season, Davis will discuss management strategies to make sure bulls are ready for a successful breeding season.

“Manage bulls to a body condition score (BCS) 6 prior to the breeding season,” says Davis. BCS is evaluated on a 1 to 9 scale, with 6 being a smooth appearance of fat cover throughout. This management strategy results in bulls with adequate energy reserves to successfully breed females during the season. For more information on cattle BCS management, look at MU Extension guide G2230.

“Foot score is one way to evaluate structural soundness of the bull,” says Davis. Claw set, which evaluates the hoof and the foot angle, which evaluates pastern strength and heel length, are part of the foot score evaluation. Both foot scoring parameters are evaluated on a 1 to 9 scale, with the ideal range of 3 to 7. For more information on foot scoring, look at MU Extension guide G2093.

“Update bull vaccinations and parasite control prior to the breeding season to promote optimum herd health and bull performance,” says Davis. Work with your veterinarian to develop and implement a herd health program for your bulls. In addition, if you are using a newly acquired nonvirgin bull in your cattle operation, make sure he has tested negative for trichomoniasis prior to entering the breeding pasture.

“A breeding soundness exam (BSE) is a good time to implement management strategies mentioned above as well as evaluated semen quality to identify and cull poor fertility bulls,” says Davis. During the BSE, bull BCS and foot score can be evaluated, as well as updating vaccinations, testing for trichomoniasis and providing parasite control. Also, the BSE evaluates semen motility and morphology to make sure semen quality is adequate for females to become pregnant. Davis urges cattle producers to contact their veterinarian to schedule their bull BSE 30 to 60 days prior to the breeding season.

“MU Extension partners with local veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies to provide bull management education during BSE Days in Southwest Missouri,” says Davis. MU Extension livestock field specialists will provide education in foot scoring, BCS, genomic testing and the BSE. The partnership with pharmaceutical companies allows participating veterinarians to provide rebates on vaccinations and dewormers given to the bulls during the BSE days. If cattle producers want to schedule their bulls for one of the BSE days listed below, please contact the veterinary clinic.

March 14
Animal Clinic of Diamond LLC, Diamond

March 22
Countryside Animal Clinic, Aurora

March 26
Dake Veterinary Clinic, Miller

March through May by appointment
Aldrich Veterinary Services, Fair Play

“Whether bulls are tested through the BSE days or with your local veterinarian, get them tested,” says Davis. Using bulls with poor fertility or structural problems hinders their ability to breed females causing an excessive number of open females and fewer calves to sell, which leads to reduced operation profit potential. For more information on BSE Days or bull management, contact Davis at 417-276-3313 or

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