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Extreme cold can impact bull fertility, cattle breeding season

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 10:09 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The extreme cold has taken a toll on livestock producers in the midst of calving season, but could have an even greater impact come breeding season.

Many producers are struggling against the freezing temperatures to keep calves alive, but the cold could have a lingering impact a few months from now. Eyewitness News spoke with Dr. AJ Tarpoff, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and Industry at Kansas State University and Beef Extension Veterinarian for K-State Research and Extension, about what the extended subfreezing temperatures can do to a bull’s fertility.

“Cold weather, especially cold weather that we’re experiencing right now, has the opportunity to cause havoc on bull fertility coming into the breeding season,” Tarpoff said. “These bulls can experience frost bite on the scrotum themselves. When that happens, a couple things can happen, one we can get adhesions. On top of that, we can actually have a secondary heat shock to spermatogenesis to the sperm cells.”

Tarpoff said the best way producers can prevent frost bite is simply to get back to the basics with feed, water and bedding.

“number one is water, okay? Number two is feed. After we have those two key concepts taken care of that’s where we go and try to increase the comfort of our animals the best we can,” he said. “We can’t forget about the frozen ground that can actually really impend and cause some of this frost bite issue. So that heavy bedding goes a long way, whether its straw bedding, corn stalks, we can use all different types of bedding that are available to producers.”

Tarpoff said a breeding soundness exam (BSE) is also critical this time of year to ensure cattle are healthy ahead of the breeding season.

“So the best way to help prepare our bulls and assess their stamina and fertility, is to make sure we get those BSEs conducted prior to the breeding season,” he said.

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