Yearling and two-year-old beef bulls should be in condition score 6 before the start of the breeding season, advises Rick Rasby, University of Nebraska animal scientist.
That’s usually not a problem with yearlings, because they’re coming off a growing-development ration, he says. Leave them with the cow herd for 60 days or less, he adds, or their condition may deteriorate enough to have a long-term effect on their growth.
After the breeding season, yearlings should be kept separate from older bulls, if possible, at least through their second winter. They need to be grazed on a good-quality pasture, and their supplemental feeding regime should be similar to that of bred yearling heifers.
“Get two-year-old bulls in condition or their working clothes well before the start of the breeding season,” says Rasby. “Start at least 100 days before the start of the breeding season to get these bulls in condition score 6. This may mean feeding them some grain or distillers to get them in condition.”
A slightly underconditioned, 1,700-lb two-year-old will probably only need to gain 1 lb per day. Active bulls may need 40 lbs/day of feed or more on a dry matter basis, of which 5-7 lbs should be grain. More grain will be required if they score well below 6. The diet should be about 12% crude protein.
“After this age of bull finishes the breeding season, good-quality grass pasture should be adequate,” says Rasby. “Watch body condition and if they struggle to pick up condition by fall, they may need some supplement during the fall and winter.”