Choosing the right bull for your herd

When it comes to choosing a partner, you typically don’t throw caution to the wind and choose any person who catches your eye! You have to understand what you’re looking for in a partner, identify deal breakers, consider the longevity of the relationship and make sure their genetics are what you want to include in your future family.

The process for choosing a partner is the same when choosing a bull for your herd; you need to make sure they end up with the best possible bull for them!

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, a little homework can go a long way when selecting your next herd bull; (If only there was a version of online dating for bovines!)

Here are our top four tips for selecting premium bulls:

1. Long-term profitability

The bull may not be around forever, however, his genetics could potentially influence your herd production for the next 10 years. It is essential to have a well-planned breeding objective strategy to ensure the profitability of your enterprise based on your chosen target market. Depending on the target market to which you are catering for, there will be different key performance indicators which you will want to select.

2. Genetics, genetics, genetics!

Meeting the family is usually a pretty big deal, and gives you the opportunity to scope out the genetics of their breeding line! Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are a great tool to help you identify what traits align with your breeding objectives. EBVs give the buyer an objective comparison between bulls from a range of studs and information regarding the genetic contribution a bull will make to a herd. EBVs are a prediction of the likely performance of the progeny and become more precise with greater numbers of progeny data entered into the database. Utilising EBVs in conjunction with a Bull Check Evaluation will ensure you are maximising your investment!

3. Balance and deal breakers!

Let’s talk about compromise! While not impossible, you do limit your options if you aren’t willing to budge and compromise on some traits. Balancing the traits of bulls and females in deciding which are most important to meet your breeding objective, deciding if the fault in each prospective bull is going to be a deal breaker, and deciding on the price you are willing to pay are essential to establish before sale day. This is why bull selection is all about the homework!

4. Fertility

The Bull Check Evaluation is imperative to make sure that your bull can efficiently and effectively pass on his genetics in a short mating window. This approved veterinarian assessment evaluates the structure, conformation and functionality of the entire bull, including the semen. It is important to note that whilst a BullCheck examination indicates that a bull will produce calves it doesn’t provide information about what traits he will pass on to his progeny. Used together EBVs and BullCheck results should enable you to objectively rank bulls in a sale from most to least preferred.

It is so easy to be carried away with an auction with your list of criteria based on your breeding objective and the price you are willing to pay for each category. Doing some homework before a sale should equip you with all the information to make sure you make the best bull buying decisions to achieve your breeding objective.


Handsome Brahman type bull in yards.
Top price bull sold in the annual Katherine Bull Sale 2020.