Properly managed sires are the greatest assets in a cow-calf operation. To do their job properly, your bulls should be in the best possible physical condition going into breeding season. Bulls that are poorly managed sire fewer calves and become more of an expense instead of an asset.

It takes several weeks to get bulls to an optimum physical level for breeding. A mature bull should be well fleshed and gaining weight when turned out with cows. They largely can be maintained on pasture and quality roughage.

Special attention should be paid to the management of yearling bulls. A yearling bull should weigh 1,050 to 1,250 pounds and gain about 2 pounds per day until he reaches 85 percent of his mature size. Rate of growth should slow to nearly a pound each day until full maturity.

Bulls used in multiple-sire herds should be identified early and co-mingled for conditioning 45 to 60 days ahead of the breeding season. In multiple-sire herds, group bulls of similar ages together to prevent social domination. It is not recommended to mix older bulls with yearlings and short 2-year-olds.

Your veterinarian should conduct a reproductive soundness evaluation on all bulls 30 days prior to turn out. A sire not producing semen or not physically able to breed can cost you a calf crop. Physically sound bulls will have a higher libido for a longer time, stay physically sound and settle more cows. After all, it is next year's calf crop that pays their keep.