April 10, 2017

(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey folks, welcome to the show. I’m Dr. Dan here and thanks for joining us today on DocTalk. We’re going to have a great show. We have a special guest, Dr. Randall Spare from Ashland Veterinary Center. He’s going to be here to talk about breeding soundness exams and how to take care of that yearling bull after you get him back to your place. It’s going to be a wealth of knowledge. He’s a good friend, he’s a good cattleman and a great veterinarian. Stay tuned.

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(Dr. Dan) Dr. Spare, welcome to the show. (Dr. Randall Spare) Thank you Dan. It’s a pleasure to be here. (Dr. Dan) Folks, this is Dr. Randall Spare who’s a great veterinarian in Ashland, Kansas, but an even better friend. It’s my pleasure to have him drive up here to Manhattan, Kansas, not a short drive, to spend time out of his busy schedule to meet with us today. He is the owner and operator of Ashland Veterinary Center, which is probably one of the most progressive cow/calf ranch and feedlot practices in the United States. Thank you so much for being here and spending time with us. Dr. Spare, we’re going to talk about breeding soundness exams, something that you do quite a few of and something that you spend a lot of time honing your skills and working with your clients. (Dr. Randall) That’s right Dan. We probably do in the neighborhood about 2,000 yearling bulls every year and probably 1,000 to 1,500 herd bulls every year. We have the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work and we want to put our producers in a position that succeeds. (Dr. Dan) Well, when we talk about breeding soundness exams, walk me through the components of the breeding soundness exam and what you’re looking at when it comes to these bulls. (Dr. Randall) First of all Dan, it’s not an exact science. We put some scientific information together to make it as scientific as possible but we still have to remember we’re dealing with a biologic animal and we’re looking at a very specific part of his anatomy. When we do a breeding soundness exam, what we’re really looking at when we get sperm from that bull is we’re looking at what happened 60 days ago. But let me backup, even more important before we get semen out of this bull, what we want to do is we get this animal in a chute and we’re looking before this animal gets in the chute to see does he move well? Is he lame? We look at his feet when he comes in, we also watch him when he walks out to make sure that he’s going to be able to the job as far as getting the breeding. The Society for Theriogenology has set forth a standard whether a bull passes or fails on that particular day when we measure their scrotum. On a yearling bull he has to be at 30 centimeters. If he doesn’t pass that, he fails. At that particular time, we may say, “Let’s redo him in a month or two months when he reaches puberty and increases the size of his scrotum.” Also when we massage him and insert a probe and we get a semen sample, we make sure that he has at least has a fair motility. In that here again, if he doesn’t have what I call fair at least, or even if he has fair, I may do another ejaculate. I may try three, four, five or six ejaculates out of that bull before I’m not satisfied that’s he’s going to produce quality semen. Once I have semen sample that I’m going be satisfied with motility, then we’ll look to stain that semen and look to make sure that he has at least 70% normal sperm. (Dr. Dan) Got you. Well folks, it’s obvious that there’s a lot that goes in to the breeding soundness exams and as Dr. Spare said that sample you get today was produced in the testes 60 days ago. It’s a snapshot in time. Let’s take a break; let’s go to commercial. When we come back, we’ll jump back into some of these things on the breeding soundness exams. We’ll talk about yearling bulls, herd bulls, Dr. Randall Spare from Ashland. Thanks for watching DocTalk.

(Dr. Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Randall Spare who’s a veterinarian down in Ashland, Kansas and he owns and operates Ashland Veterinary Center. Dr. Spare is known nationally and internationally for veterinary cow/calf and ranch pure bred breeding veterinary medicine. I’m very fortunate to have him as a Kansas State alumni and very fortunate to have you on the show. Let’s talk about your yearling bulls because there are some differences in yearling bulls that you’re going to sell and the testing herd bulls when you’re doing these breeding soundness exams. Walk me through, at least start out on some of the things when it comes to these young bulls. (Dr. Randall) First of all Dan, we have to really put in common sense. When it comes down to, would I pass this bull? Would I use him on my cows? Do I feel comfortable that he’s going to go out and breed those animals and we can put him with 20 cows? But let’s backup, why are we testing yearling bulls? That’s what the industry wants today. 30, 40 years ago when your dad was a veterinarian, we used two-year old bulls but nobody wants to wait to buy a two-year bull anymore. We’ll sell a lot of bulls in this country that are between 12 and 18 months of age. That bull has just passed through puberty. He may have some immaterial problems. But first of all, when we’re looking at that spermogram, we want to make sure that he has enough normal sperm to breed 20 cows. (Dr. Dan) Okay. You’re looking at this yearling bull, he’s going to go out, he’s going to be able to cover 20 cows. The development then at a yearling, he’s not done growing, he’s not done fully becoming sexual mature as well? (Dr. Randall) That’s correct. When we’re doing a BSE exam, we’re really careful not to say this bull fails today. When you’re kneeling beside a bull that can bring $10,000 and we say today he’s done. No, today he may not pass this exam. We may put him to the side and retest him three, four months later. (Dr. Dan) Yes, it goes back to again it’s what you’re testing today is really two months ago? (Dr. Randall) That’s right. (Dr. Dan) If you have a bull that’s in the chute that’s 18 months old, that’s the sperm that is produced when he was 16 months of age and so delaying that then may just allow this bull to mature more and develop more? (Dr. Randall) That’s right. For instance Dan, remember that time this last December when it was minus 12 degrees for about three or four days? That’s going to have effect on the spermogram of these bulls if those bulls were in a place where they couldn’t get cover, they couldn’t protect themselves. We have to keep that in mind and say we’re going to retest this bull three or four times before a particular sale so that he either passes or fails. If he fails at that time and his testicles feel good, we’re going to put him on the shelf and say, “Let’s redo him in the middle of summer” particularly if he has a lot of value. (Dr. Dan) That’s a pretty expensive hamburger if we make the wrong decision. (Dr. Randall) Absolutely. We need to understand, we’re putting up someone’s livelihood, both the buyer and the seller’s livelihood at stake here if we make arbitrary decisions very quickly. (Dr. Dan) Yes, I agree. Let’s take a break, let’s go to commercial. But when we come back, let’s talk about some of the things when you’re testing those herd bulls and some of the things that you’re looking at. Something that is going to be very important for you all that are watching this show. We appreciate you watching DocTalk. Again, Dr. Randall Spare Ashland, Kansas. Thanks for watching DocTalk. More after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Hey folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Randall Spare. Dr. Spare is a bovine practitioner out of Ashland, Kansas. Owns and operates Ashland Veterinary Center. Outstanding practitioner here in Kansas and the surrounding areas of the country as a matter of fact. We’re talking about breeding soundness exams Dr. Spare. The one thing about the breeding soundness exams, there is a difference between yearling bulls and herd bulls and you do a lot of both. But let’s touch on the herd bulls and when we think about herd bulls, when do you want people to come in and do that test? (Dr. Randall) Well, it’s really important Dan that they start planning ahead. If they’re going to turn their bulls out on May the 1st and they know that and there’s plenty of bull sales between March and April, it’s important to get their bulls tested prior to the day before they turn out. Just in case they have a bull or two that don’t pass the fertility exam, they’ll have time to go get one. (Dr. Dan) Right and that’s important. The first time the most important time is at least before you turn them out and the second one is if you give yourself time to find a replacement. What about herd bulls? What are some of the things that when you’re testing herd bulls that you’re really focused on or things that you’re focused on for your clients? (Dr. Randall) Well, a difference is, in the herd bulls, they’ve worked the previous year and we’re also not only we’re looking at feet and leg issues, we want to make sure they can get around. But we’re also looking to make sure that they can extend and there’s no preputial injuries and constrictions. Sometimes those bulls are out the previous year and they’ve had a laceration on the prepuce and it’s not seen. Nobody picked up on it in these large pastures and so when we get ready to do a semen evaluation, if they cannot fully extend, then it didn’t matter how good a sperm sample we have, Dan. (Dr. Dan) Right, and I thought you made a good point too. Legs, injuries, no wheels, no calves, right? (Dr. Randall) That’s right. (Dr. Dan) And getting around the pasture. When you’re looking at herd bulls and as they age, are there any differences as far as older bulls and younger bulls or is it more just an individual bull? (Dr. Randall) As far as the sperm count, it’s pretty much the same whether they’re three year old or 10 year old. There’s times and now with some confined feeding operations, there’s bulls that can get around that I mouthed them and they’re 10 years old. They don’t have any teeth but they’re in good condition and they don’t have to travel very far because they’re in the pen. (Dr. Dan) Hugh Hefner. (Dr. Randall) That’s right. (Dr. Dan) [Laughs] When we start to think about that and those are bulls that you’re going to collect or you’re going to bring the cows to them. (Dr. Randall) That’s right. (Dr. Dan) Type of thing. I think it is important. Then, how many cows? You said 20 cows for yearling bull. What are we looking at for some of our herd bulls covering how many cows? (Dr. Randall) I think that varies depending on the pastures. I have clients that they like to have one bull per 20 cows when they are covering or when they have a cow per 40 acres and they put few more bulls in those pastures. Most places use a bull per 25 cows. (Dr. Dan) Well, I think it’s a good number to remember. One of the things Dr. Spare does a lot of is work with the post purchase of yearling bulls and when we come back from the break, we’re going to talk about some of his experiences in that. Thanks for watching DocTalk.

(Dr. Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Randall Spare. Dr. Spare is from Ashland, Kansas. Owner and operator of Ashland Veterinary Center where he does a lot of work on purebred animals. Does a lot of work in herds in the region, nationally. Very well respected bovine practitioner. Wonderful to have you here on the show today. We are talking about breeding soundness exams. Now we’ve got the bulls tested, they’re good, they’re sold, and I know you deal a lot with helping people keep these yearling bulls in good condition so that when they get home, they’re going to be able to do what we intended them to do when we purchased them. (Dr. Randall) You know Dan, I think that’s right and where I have an opportunity to work with some seed stock producers, I often get a call from them that says, “Randall, can you call this individual in Missouri or Arkansas that just purchased this bull. He’s got some questions on how to take care of them”, and I think that one of the things that good seed stock producers will have a follow-up team. They’ll have veterinarians that maybe call for them and we look at that as part of our job. Dan, so I think it’s important that when a producer gets this animal home, particularly it’s 12 to 18-month-old bull, they’re still a young man. They’re a youth. They’re getting their mature teeth and when these producers say, “You know, this bull falls apart” well, Dan, they’re just getting their first two incisors at 18 months of age. They have also maybe have been raised in an arid environment like southwest Kansas. When we have a drought, we don’t have very many parasites. We send them to Arkansas. Maybe it’s a good thing for letting them be exposed to parasites and then re-worm them after they’ve had that opportunity. Another consideration is what’s your anaplass situation in your area when you take these bulls that haven’t been raised in an anaplass environment. Be cognizant of what diseases you have that they didn’t have before. (Dr. Dan) Yes, we have the obviously the normal testing with TB and brucellosis and things like that, that you’re handling before they get there. But we have to remember that there are different — tell them to work with you, work with their local veterinarian. Have you and their local veterinarian worked together to talk about what these bulls have had prior to getting there? It gets down to communication and a general understanding of health. (Dr. Randall) That’s right Dan, and just this week I had a call from a veterinarian in Missouri that his client that had purchased a bull from one of my clients and we had good dialogue and so we’re building relationships all over the country. (Dr. Dan) You bet. You mentioned parasite control. You mentioned anaplasmosis. Anything that they need to do as far as feed when they get those bulls? (Dr. Randall) When they get those young bulls home, remember they’re still growing and I think it’s important not to throw young bulls out with a whole battery of aged bulls and just say, “Well, you guys decide who is boss today.” Because we know that those young guys that they’ve made tremendous investment are going to get the tar beat out of them. It’s a common sense saying, “Bring him home. Let him be by themselves. Acclimate them to younger bulls and then maybe even put him in pastures with young bulls.” (Dr. Dan) That’s a great idea. It’s a lot of great information. Thank you for spending time with us. Thanks for spending time with the viewers. Folks, Dr. Randall Spare. A just wealth of knowledge when it comes to anything bovine. Thank you for watching DocTalk and if you want to know more about what we do here, you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. Remember, always work with your local veterinarian. Thanks for watching the show. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson and I’ll see you down the road.

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