Hey everyone, we are in a bull dilemma to get our Dexter milk cow bred. She is open right now, and we had to dry her off because we couldn’t get someone to milk her when we went on a trip for a family wedding.
BLUF: Should we get a 4-year-old proven, great looking bull (with a bull attitude) or should we stick with the bull yearling we already have and hope he is capable of doing the job?
Is it an issue if you bring a bull from a herd of 40 cows into a herd of 2 cows? I am worried that since he won’t have as many cows to breed that he might be more aggressive and perhaps injure one of our cows.
Here are the details:
We purchased a Dexter bull yearling (about 1.5 years old), hoping he would be able to do the job. He arrived in much poorer condition than we would have liked, but has already made drastic improvements in the month we have had him. He is very calm (for a bull) and is handled enough so you can give him a rub down. He hasn’t shown any interest in the cow at all, it could be that he is just adjusting to our herd, and maybe he needs more time but I am worried he went sterile during his time of not being fed properly (the farmer we got him from was down all summer from a medical emergency and the animals suffered because of that). One option is we can try to fatten him up and hope that he warms up to our homestead and gets his act together. Thoughts?
The alternative is we could get a different Dexter bull, who is 4 years old and very capable of getting her bred. We went to look at him today and is a beautiful animal in every way, but is a little harder to work with. He hasn’t shown any aggression to humans, but the owner said he does often shake his head at you when you show up, and you just have to shoo him away and carry a stick with you to keep him in his place. I know this is a “typical” bull, but my wife is a little nervous, especially since we have our first child on the way. He is also coming from a much bigger herd, where he has a lot of cows to breed. Is it an issue when a bull is used to breeding 40 cows and is put in a new herd with only 2 cows?
I’m curious what you would do in our situation. Thanks for your input!
When you say get, do you mean borrow? I can't see why you would want a bull if you only have two cows, AI would seem more suitable. If it is borrow, could you take your cow to the bull rather than have a possibly dangerous animal around your (I presume) pregnant wife? The cow man in this family thinks the 4 year old may become very possessive of the cows and you could have issues getting close to them again.
posted 6 days ago
Dexter's are pretty tricky to nail with AI, which is why we are going the bull route.
We would love to rent if that was an option, but haven't found a suitable bull available for renting.
The possessiveness is a good point. Those are the kind of behaviors I am concerned about, because once the cow calves again we will be milking her.
Cows are only in estrus for 2-3 days in a 21 day cycle. A bull will be able to tell which days she is receptive based on smell. Your young bull might not be showing any interest because your cow is not interested in him at the moment. Based on the picture where he looks to be in very poor condition, he may not have the energy to do the job, but that is pretty unusual. You could get a vet to semen test your young bull, they could tell you definitively if he is worth keeping. If you do go the route of using the 4 year old bull, it might be easier to bring your cows to the bull than the bull to you.
If Leora hadn't beaten me to the punch I'd have suggested bringing your cow to the bull if renting him isn't feasible.
Other option is to rent a non-dexter bull this year and just plan to slaughter that calf once it reaches a size you like (even if much younger than you'd normally slaughter). Meantime either get the bull you have tested for fertility, or just see if by next year he is mature enough to do the job. If he never gets interested, or tests sterile, slaughter him and start shopping for another suitable bull.