For about one month prior to grass turnout, we are blessed to witness several cover bulls running their own herds in adjoining pastures. This means there are regular displays of superiority. Seeing all their pacing, pawing, calling and breeding, reminds us how much these guys are true athletes. At G&B Ranch, we treat them as such.
First, we do not overfeed them. A bull who has to waddle around with too much weight means he may end up breaking down well before his breeding days should be over. Too much fat can restrict his natural locomotion, disrupt his semen getting from point A to point B and his breeding willingness. We use the term "healthy fat." He needs to have a few extra pounds for the his heightened activity, but not so much where his legs and feet will suffer. The smaller cows and heifers do not need the extra weight on them, either. We enjoy using the bulls for several years. before they are too big to breed smaller cows.
Second, our winter pens have plenty of opportunity for play and exercise. In this part of the world, spring time mud is inevitable, but we are blessed to have an area with good drainage. This means the boys in the bull pen can safely spar every afternoon to keep up their muscling and, more importantly, impress the ladies passing by walking to their waterer. After turnout, the cow pens have a nice grade to them so they get quite a workout traveling back and forth along the fence line.
Third, they are fed what they will be eating all summer - GRASS! Not only does this help their rumen, it really helps discern who is going to be thrifty. We cannot keep high maintenance animals and definitely do not want to sell something which requires super high protein food to make it through the winter.
All the herds are out on grass this week. The bulls are able to eat anytime they want to put their head down. They also do not have to worry about being sandwiched between other possible suitors. While I personally do not mind the bull calls at midnight, I know the neighbors will enjoy some peace and quiet!