The pointy end of the joining season

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Many cattle breeders join their cows for just nine weeks. With a cow being on heat for about eighteen hours once every three weeks, that’s just three chances to conceive over this short joining.

It doesn’t sound much, but in reality it’s plenty. If cows are in good condition and healthy, and at least two months post-joining, they should easily conceive.

The other side is the bull and this can be where producers often look at bit nervous.

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If one cow is not as fertile as it should be, there may be an empty cow at pregnancy testing time. If one bull is not as fertile as it should be, there may be many empty cows.

For many spring calving producers, joining is more than half way through. Under normal conditions most of the cows should be in calf.

This is the time when one of the local sounds in the district is the audible sigh of relief that emanates from cattle breeders.

What is that sound?

It’s the contented sense of awareness that the producer has not seen the bull break down during this important time of the year.

Joining beef bulls to up to fifty cows in this short period can certainly put the pressure on them.

Most are OK, but some are a bit special and fragile, and can stop working at almost any challenge to their constitution!

How can the producer lessen the risk of a bull-driven low pregnancy test shock?

Producers who multiple-join more than one bull with their cows may lessen the risk of a poor result due to one bull not working. If one bull is not right, others may pick up the extra workload.

But many producers single join, and this means the bull must be sound.

One management technique for single joiners who have more than one bull, or more than one joining mob, is to swap bulls over between mobs after two cycles (six weeks). For the last three weeks, the replacement bull can fix up any cows not yet in calf.

But more importantly, he can cover the original, perhaps less fertile bull.

Having the bull inspected pre-joining, watching him regularly, and looking for more cows still showing oestrus activity, can pick up that something is not right.

But generally things do go according to plan.

Most cows get in calf, those who don’t go on the hit list at pregnancy testing time, and producers sit back waiting for that first exciting calf to be born.

One of my clients calves at the most unusual times of the year, and for perhaps longer than many producers would recommend.

Why, we asked him?

‘Oh, I just like to see new calves all the time!’

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