Traveling Bulls and Breeding Season


Who ever said ranch life is boring, has not stuck around for a day. Just as soon as we wrap up one season, the next is waiting on its heels. I finished up calving season as April walked out the door and with May comes breeding season. I turned the bulls loose the other day and told em to have fun, be safe, and I’d seem ’em again in 75 days.

Just a few days before breeding season began, the neighbors’ bulls had other intentions. Not only did I have one bull jump the fence (whom I described as having no rear and pecans between his legs), but there was a second in a different pasture. At least the second was a pretty decent bull. Unfortunately, it was the lower quality bull that returned for a second visit. Kinda reminded me of this post I saw from a Kansas ranch. Maybe I need a sign along the lines of “If your bull jumps this fence, then come and get your steer.”

Instead of having our cattle in one big herd, we split them into smaller herds for a few reasons. First, to better fit grazing capacity of pastures. Many tracts of land in Arkansas are smaller (compared to large ranches in the west) and we use rotational grazing to best utilize our forage resources. Second, we break them into herd sizes to easily fit a bull’s capacity for breeding season. We try to manage for 30-32 cows for every mature bull. This allows us to have a 75-day window for breeding (and respectively calving) season. Leaving a more uniform calf crop in the fall.

What questions do you have about breeding season, bulls, or related topics?

Breeding Season Facts

  • The average Arkansas farm size is 281 acres
    • Including crop farms
    • 54% <100 acres
  • The average Arkansas cow herd is 29 head
  • On average an immature bull (under 2-3 years of age) can breed 1 female for every month of age
    • Example: 18 months, 18 cows in a breeding season
  • There are three major goals of any breeding season
    • Get the cows settled as early in the breeding season as possible
    • Get them bred to the bulls with the highest possible genetic worth
    • Achieve both as economically as possible by getting the cows bred with the fewest possible bulls

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8 Comments

  1. What is the gestation period of a cow? And what happens if a bull jumps fence and “is successful” in his ambitions? Does the owner have to pay any vet costs? Especially if it’s a bull from the wrong side of the tracks. Around here if a dog jumps the fence you’re paying for the whole deal. Just wondering.

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    1. A cow’s gestation is 9 months. Or as I have heard it put 7 months, 7 weeks, and 7 days.

      Usually we just put the bulls back where they belong and may suffer one or two out of place calves. If it were a bad mix up the cows may be given a shot to kill the fertilized ovum. Or I have been told the owner of the bull could have to pay any lost income from a lower quality calf crop.

      Great questions! Thanks

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  2. Thanks for providing a great blog and showing the beautiful part of the world in which you live:-) I’m from Australia and find it very interesting to see the agricultural industries of other nations and what we can learn from them.

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  3. Hey i’m Joseph Jaquez im gonna be at the banquet tonight and im from Estancia N.M and im looking forward to hearing you speak tonight………thank you for coming to my school and having the guts to explain the awsomeness of agriculture…….i want to learn more about it…give me an email. thanks

    Josephjaquez……:)

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