Bull biosecurity at breeding time

As another cattle breeding season gets underway, farmers are being reminded to follow best-practice biosecurity management to protect their dairy and beef herds from Mycoplasma bovis.
Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Beef + Lamb New Zealand General Manager South Island John Ladley says farmers should ensure any bulls they use this season are from a known source and have up-to-date animal health and NAIT records.

Bulls should have been quarantined after purchase and any animal health issues dealt with before they are mixed with home stock.

While beef bulls are generally considered a low-risk stock class, bulls previously used over dairy herds are at a greater risk of carrying M.bovis.

John says farmers leasing bulls to dairy farmers as yearlings – and then selling them as two-year-olds – should be reconsidering that policy.

“Yearling bulls should ideally only go to one dairy farm and either be retained as a bull or sold for processing.”

The calf and weaner market has changed in light of the M.bovis outbreak, but there is opportunity for dairy farmers to use top quality beef genetics to add value to their calf crop.

Calves born of herds with a paper-trail validating their health status, fed safe milk and reared under best practice biosecurity protocols are highly sought after.

The B+LNZ Genetics Dairy-Beef Progeny Test showed that Angus and Hereford Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) will deliver similar results to a Friesian bull.

By focusing on EBVs for gestation length (aim for Angus EBV 0.5 days, Hereford EBV-2.6 days) and EBV birth weight (Angus EBV +3.5kg and Hereford EBV +1.2kg), farmers will get top-quality calves without compromising calving ease or days in milk.

By including the 200-day weight in the genetic selection criteria, dairy farmers can add even more value to their calves.

Find out more

1) For a complete guide to managing M. bovis for cattle farmers visit: https://beeflambnz.com/sites/default/files/factsheets/pdfs/BLNZ_Mbovis_Guidance.pdf

2) More information for buying service bulls and cattle:

3) For resources about how to protect you farm and business from M. bovis go to: https://beeflambnz.com/mycoplasma-bovis