Owning a healthy, happy herd of cattle involves a lot more work than many people many realize when they first decide to enter the cattle industry. The living environment you provide for your cattle will determine how productive your herd is. Good herd management is key to having a successful operation.
From a theoretical perspective, it's natural for bulls to be loose with your herd of cows. Bulls need to have access to cows to reproduce. Mating in pasture in the natural environment is an easy way for your herd to continue to grow. Turning bulls out with your cows requires little planning or forethought. If you fail to castrate all your male calves and bulls in a timely manner, then you'll almost certainly wind up with bulls running loose among your herd.
Having animals mating freely in pasture only sounds like a good idea if your goal is produce an unknown and completely random amount of animals with no forethought or planning put into their genetic makeup. Modern cows are often well-bred, pedigreed animals who have individual value as well as value as a source of meat or dairy products. Allowing whatever bull happens to be nearby when the cow goes into season to breed to that cow means you won't know when the cow was bred or who the sire is. This leads to sloppy breeding practices, unwanted and genetically undesirable or otherwise flawed animals as well as inbred animals. Unsupervised breeding without any type of plan is a bad idea because it leads to inferior animals who will be worth less than those who were bred in accordance with a breeding plan and goals in mind.
When there are bulls turned loose in the herd, your cows stand a higher chance of being injured during mating or during attacks from other cattle, or suffering from health problems as the result of calving. You will have a more difficult time predicting the timing of births when you don't know the precise day the cow was bred, and therefore you may not be there to help the cow if she gets into trouble calving. Calves who were bred without consideration of genetic traits may also be ill or have flaws that could have been prevented by proper breeding practices.
Bulls can be quite aggressive with both humans and one another. Some cattle enthusiasts question the wisdom of turning loose any bulls with the herd because you put yourself and your animals at greater risk of injury due to a bull's aggressive behaviors. Having one or more bulls loose in your herd will almost certainly increase the chances that you or another one of your animals will be injured by a bull who feels he's protecting his territory against a threat.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.