A Cowboy’s Faith: Time for bovine romancing – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith: Time for bovine romancing

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“The bull is the most important part of a profitable cow-calf operation.”

Cowmen have various opinions about that statement, first analyzing a bull’s conformation, structure, bloodlines, performance data, etc. Yes, those factors can and generally do have an impact on cowherd profit.

Yet they are not the most critical element of making money with cows. First and foremost essential is a bull that does what he’s supposed to do: breed cows.

Cows will not have a calf unless there is a bull with them. That bull must romance every cow for her to have a calf. Those calves are what pay the bills.

Regardless of the color, looks, weight, disposition of their dad, a calf must be born and go to market.

A small, light muscled, mixed breed, poorly structured, ugly bull that gets every cow in calf has definite value. While the “best bred,” highest priced, superior performance, “perfect” phenotype bull can have little worth. If cows do not get with calf during mating season that “great bull” becomes a money loser. He’d be much more valuable as a steer.

Bull fertility, breeding ability, and desire to do their job outweigh every “highly promoted” aspect of bull selection and ownership.

The point has come to realization in recent days. Bulls that are ready to breed cows need to be out with cows in early May. Then calves should come at the first part of next February and be ready for market as weanlings in mid-October.

Low rainfall, uncontrollable winds, and late pasture burning have impacted bull turnout date this year. Typically early calving cows won’t be birthing next year at the same time as in the past. Later born calves generally weigh less at sale time.

Every bull must be fertility checked before going with cows. Examinations frequently find that certain bulls have become infertile for a variety of reasons. Even bulls that are breeding sound sometimes come up with other problems like lameness, making them unsuitable for mating cows.

It becomes an urgent task to replace those incompetent bulls with ones that will get cows safe with calf.

Momma cow obviously has a major influence on herd profits, but Mr. Bull is the most important of all.

Reminded of Job 21:12: “Their bulls breed with great vigor and their cows calve without fail.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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