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Natural service

263. Careful management of a bull is essential if it is to become an active and effective herd sire with a long working life. Although some breeding bulls will be home reared, the majority are purchased at an early age.

264. In spite of their value, there is a tendency to neglect bulls in the dairy herd and many are improperly housed without access to a suitable exercise area. Pure-bred dairy bulls are often kept in poorly lit and isolated pens which can lead to the bull becoming aggressive and difficult to handle. Bulls should have access to a hard walking surface and should not be on wet bedding, as this is likely to lead to the development of overgrown hooves with consequent necessity for regular foot trimming.

265. For at least part of the housing period, the more docile breeds of bull (e.g. beef sires) are often run with the herd as a "sweeper" bull to serve any cows that are not in-calf to planned matings.

Recommendations

266. The welfare of bulls should not be neglected and farmers must adhere to the Welfare of Livestock Regulations 1994 and appropriate welfare codes.

267. Staff should be properly trained in handling bulls.

268. Facilities should be provided in the pen and exercise area for the bull to be securely restrained by a yoke, or similar device, to allow for routine husbandry procedures, such as cleaning out and for veterinary treatment.

269. Under natural service conditions, young bulls should be run with only small groups of cows (ideally about 10-15) and should be offered additional feed as necessary.

270. All bulls should have good, safe service conditions. Slatted floors and slippery conditions underfoot (e.g. in yards, cubicles and passageways) are not suitable for mating animals.

271. Human health and safety considerations should be taken into account in the design and construction of the bull pen and handling facilities. Advice from a competent person should be sought when building or upgrading bull facilities.