UT Extension News: Bull Evaluation

November 2, 2021

By Chris Hicks, County Director – UT Extension Smith County

When you understand that half the genetics of your calf crop each year come from the bull, you realize the selection of that one animal is quite significant. Add to the fact that retained heifers from that bull will hopefully become long-term members of the cow herd, and it’s easy to see that buying a bull has long-term implications.  

Sometimes I wonder if we really spend enough time considering what type of bull we need to meet our farm objectives and do enough searching to find an animal that can help us meet those objectives. What makes me wonder that is the fact that often the first question folks ask about a bull is, “Does he qualify for TAEP?” While TAEP has been a wonderful program and has had a tremendously positive effect on cowherds in Tennessee, just because a bull qualifies for that program does not mean he is right for your farm. 

There are several questions to consider when selecting a bull: Are you breeding heifers, mature cows, or both? Are you keeping replacement heifers? Are you retaining ownership of calves? Are you capitalizing on the benefits of crossbreeding? Do you enjoy being chased up trees by animals with a poor  disposition? The bull you choose might be different depending on the answer to these and numerous other questions. 

I am excited about an upcoming event where we can discuss bull selection live on a farm. BHS Angus will be hosting our Bull Evaluation Field Day on November 20 at their farm on Grant Highway from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. We will look at numerous bulls from numerous breeds and discuss some of the things to think about when selecting a herd bull. 

Dr. Troy Rowan, our new Beef Cattle Genetics Specialist, will be on hand to discuss Bull Evaluation & Selection. Dr. Rowan will not only talk about selecting animals based on their genetic potential but will also talk about selection based on the animal’s structure and confirmation. Since money is always something to be considered when buying a bull, we will also have Dr. Charley Martinez with us to talk about The Economic Perspective of Bull Purchasing. 

This field day will be a great opportunity to sharpen your bull evaluation skills, visit with other producers, and enjoy a free meal together, sponsored by the Smith County Cattlemen’s Association. We’d love to have you join us and ask that you please RSVP by November 12 by calling UT Extension at 615-735-2900 so we will have plenty of food.