What to do with the bull after the breeding season?

By: Glenn Selk; Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Maintaining a 60 to 75 day breeding and calving season can be one of the most important management tools for cow calf producers.  A uniform, heavier, and more valuable calf crop is one key reason for keeping the breeding season short.  Plus, more efficient cow supplementation and cow herd health programs are a product of a short breeding season.

However, many small producers lose all of these money-making advantages, just because they do not have a pen or trap that will hold the bull away from cows and heifers for 9 to 10 months of the year.  In an effort to learn what others do to overcome this obstacle, we had an email conversation with a Clemson University beef cattle specialist who passed along the method of fencing that they use to separate bulls from their cows.

They use a minimum of 2 acres per bull for their bull pasture.  Well fertilized introduced pastures (such as bermudagrass) in Eastern Oklahoma (with adequate rainfall) can stand this stocking density.  However, native grass situations will require more acreages per bull unless the producer wants to feed a great deal of hay and supplement during much of the year.

They use a five strand, high tensile fence with the strands spaced at 10 inches apart.  High tensile wire is a heavy gauge, smooth wire that can be made as a permanent system with in-line wire stretchers  The first strand is 10 inches above the ground.  The end result is a fence that is 50 inches tall.

The fence, of course, must be electrically charged.  A GOOD high voltage, low amperage fence energizer or charger provides the energy source.  The Clemson design uses the 2nd , 3rd, and 5th wire as charged wires, with the first and the 4th wire attached to grounds.  See diagram below.  The grounds will be most effective if they are set deep into the soil.  This will allow for good “grounding” even when summer droughts cause top soil to become quite dry.  Different designs may fit different situations.  Some designs electrify the first wire (from the bottom) and make the second wire a ground.  Talking to a commercial representative from a reputable fencing supply company can be very helpful.


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