I Sel 0'n
JM S E. PACE
SELECTING AND BUYING BULLS
JAMES E. PACE
The use of high quality, sound bulls with a good
background offers the best means of making rapid im-
provement in Florida beef cattle herds. That is, pro-
vided rigid selection pressure is applied to the females
in the herd.
Buy From Ranch
The advantages of purchasing bulls directly from
the ranch include:
* The entire breeding herd of the purebred breeder
can be studied.
* A comparison of all bulls produced by the breeder
is possible. You can determine if the bull in ques-
tion is above average, average or below average
of that particular group.
* Conditions under which the bulls have been de-
veloped can be studied.
* Herd production records, when available, can be
* Information on herd health is more readily avail-
* Pedigrees can be checked, and pitfalls such as
dwarfism can possibly be avoided.
Buy From a Purebred Breeder
* Purchase bulls from a purebred breeder who has
the commercial producer at heart.
* Avoid buying bulls from hobbyists and winnerss
* The production of purebred cattle should be a
lifetime business. Buy bulls from reputation herds.
Avoid Overfitted Bulls
* If possible, avoid purchasing bulls that have been
fitted for a long period of time.
* Overly fat bulls, if purchased, should be bought
well enough in advance so that they can adjust to
the conditions under which you operate.
* Bulls that have been fitted for a long period of
time often fail to breed. They simply lack sex
drive or libido.
* Bulls that have been fitted for a long period of
time often have a low fertility level or are sterile.
* Extremely fat bulls are more subject to injuries
such as becoming stifled.
Buy Sound Bulls
In Florida most pastures are large, therefore, com-
mercial bulls must be able to move and cover great
* Avoid bulls that are sickle hocked (legs too far
under the body).
Avoid bulls that are too straight in their hind legs
Definitely do not purchase a crippled bull.
Never purchase a bull until you have seen him
If bulls have been fitted, check closely for mild
cases of founder. The hoofs are long and have a
tendency to curve upward.
Avoid bulls that are extremely fine in their bone.
Avoid bulls that are extremely short legged.
Check Production Records
Production records within a herd can serve as a
valuable aid in selecting sires. Records should in-
That the prospective herd sire is out of a good
milking dam. This is evidenced by a heavy wean-
The market grade of the bull at weaning is of
Post-weaning information should be closely stud-
ied. If the bulls have been fed for a definite
period, average daily gain, weight per day of age
and grade at the beginning and conclusion of the
feeding period should be closely studied.
Buy Virgin Bulls
When virgin bulls are purchased there is little
chance of bringing in disease.
If possible buy bulls as yearlings and grow them
out under conditions where they will be used.
Purchase more bulls than will be needed. Those
that fail to develop can be culled and sold for
* Purchase enough bulls so that several can be
kept in reserve during the breeding season.
* Even when buying yearling virgin bulls, check
them for disease and soundness.
* When buying bulls make sure they have been
checked for fertility.
Age and Weight
The weight of a bull at a definite age depends on
many factors. Both inheritance and environment play
a part in their growth and development. Some pure-
bred producers full feed their bulls after weaning
until sold, other producers feed a limited amount of
grain and others grow out their bulls on pasture
Weaning 475 575 lbs.
1 year 800 1000 lbs.
18 months 1000 1200 lbs.
2 years 1200 1500 lbs.
How Much is a Good Bull Worth?
* Bulls vary in their ability to transmit doing ability.
* Some sire differences within a herd will be evi-
denced at weaning time.
* Sire differences become more apparent after wean-
ing. This is because the influence of the milk
production of the dam becomes less evident after
The table below illustrates the differences in calves
sired by bulls of the same breed within the same herd.
BULL WEANING 205 DAY GRADE VALUE PER
WT. WT. HEAD
1 296 328 Standard $65.12
2 355 376 Standard $81.65
3 383 399 Good $91.92
FROM BULL 1
BEWARE OF UNSCRUPULOUS
TRADERS & SCALPERS
* Florida has always been known as a dumping
ground for cull bulls from other areas.
* Avoid dealings with unscrupulous traders, scalpers
and peddlers who have gotten together a group of
bulls and consigned them to a sale.
* When buying bulls in a sale know the consignor
and get as much information as possible on the
past history of the bulls before sale time.
* If you know little about pedigrees, consult some-
one before sale time who does.
* If bulls are bought in sales, buy at reputable sales
and purchase those bulls consigned by breeders
with a reputation for producing good sound com-
BE CAREFUL WHEN BUYING
BULLS AT AUCTION.
When in Doubt
When in doubt as to which bull to buy and produc-
tion records are not available, purchase the largest
"growthiest" bull you can find; that is, commensurate
with desirable type, quality and good fleshing quali-
v'A U G T71 0 N
ties. Good fleshing qualities should never be sacrificed
for size alone. A happy medium of these two qualities
Avoid overly refined bulls, those that are extremely
compact and those that are long-bodied and shallow-
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture,
M. O. Watkins, Director