Breeding soundness exams: Making dollars and sense

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It has long been established that the cost of one infertile bull during a breeding season is much greater than the cost of one interfile cow. Keep this in mind many producers use breeding soundness exams (BSE) to evaluate the abilities of their herd sires to do their job (See: Are Your Bulls Ready for the Breeding Season?). Taking time to evaluate the morphology, motility, and overall quality of your bull’s semen and health prior to the breeding season gives producers the insurance that their bulls are ready to go to work at the start of the breeding season, yet there is still a large group of producers that skip out on this pre-breeding insurance policy.

On average in the state of South Dakota a BSE will cost from $30 to $40 per bull. So do the cost outweigh the benefits?

CHAPS benchmarks and the South Dakota center for Farm/Ranch Management report averages of approximately 500 lbs for the pounds of calf weaned per cow exposed and it can be estimated that calves averaged between $150.00 to $165.00 cwt in 2012.

While there are a multitude of factors that are weighted into the bull to cow ratio that is used in a breeding season, an average of 1:20 can be assumed across the state. While in many cases this may be conservative, in large breeding pastures, or when using young bulls this would be typical.

Taking this information into account the cost of one infertile bull at a stocking rate of 1:20, with the average pounds of calf weaned/cow exposed being 500 pounds, the cost of one infertile bull during a breeding season in 2012 was between  $15,000 to $16,500. This cost does not take into account the operational costs of the cow that will be lost due to her not becoming pregnant.

Table1: Cost of Infertile Bull


So does it pay to semen test your bulls? Well when comparing the $30 to $40 cost of a BSE compared to the potential to lose over $15,000 in calves, it would seem so! Can you afford not to test your bulls this year?

Source: Kalyn Waters



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