Purchasing bulls can be one of the highest costs associated with cattle breeding and running a small beef herd.
Owning a bull
Bulls are the most cost effective when they are mated with the largest number of cows possible, as the cost of the bull can be spread out over a larger number of calves. Bulls can safely be mated with between 40-60 cows. However, for the majority of small landholders this number of cows is out of reach.
Purchasing and mating a single bull is risky as this animal could easily suffer injury, infection or disease and become infertile. Single sire herds also require a replacement bull when the bull’s daughters return to the herd. Owning more than one bull can create cattle management problems. For example, when bulls fight they can injure each other and damage farm infrastructure.
Owners of small beef herds should consider bull/herd sharing, bull hiring and artificial insemination as worthy alternatives to bull ownership.