In conjunction with Dale and Vale Vets we have a bull electroejaculator. This allows us to offer a comprehensive bull testing service. We come out to the farm and need the bull in a suitable crush, 2 helpers and somewhere with shelter and electricity for us to set up the microscope. The bull undergoes a detailed physical examination, including examination of the internal and external reproductive organs. A sample of semen is then collected using the electroejaculator and examined under the microscope. Some special stains are done to allow us to examine the structure of the sperm and the numbers live and dead. The cost of the examination includes a standardised bull testing certificate produced by the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA), the idea being that all bulls are tested to the same standards throughout the country.
We have recently purchased an artificial vagina for bull use – this allows us to collect natural semen samples from a bull, but does require a cow in heat at the time. The sample may be more representative and is required if you were wanting to freeze semen.
There are three major times when we get asked to test bulls: if a problem is suspected; before the breeding period and; after a purchase. We would always recommend that a newly purchased bull be tested so that if there is a problem the vendor can be quickly contacted. We have experience of testing bulls for venereal disease (campylobacter) that can cause untold fertility problems. We have had a farm bring the disease on by buying an older bull and the costs would run into many thousands of pounds. The testing is relatively straightforward and recommended whenever your purchase a bull that has been used elsewhere.