Yearling bulls are an investment in both economic and genetic resources, says Dr. Jim Neel, University of Tennessee professor of animal science and beef cattle specialist. “If properly managed, they can greatly increase the herd’s value. On the other hand, poor management of young bulls can result in both economic and reproductive losses,” he said.

Neel says most of the bulls offered for sale this spring will be yearlings. “Primarily due to the cost of maintaining bulls to two years of age and also due to the genetic improvement through better bulls of the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program (TAEP), the demand is great and the number for sale is reduced. Yearling bulls should be of better genetic potential than their previous generations. So, with proper care and management, purchasing yearling bulls is an economical investment that will pay dividends.”

The cattle expert warns producers about initially overexposing bulls to the herd. “Unfortunately, a large number of yearling bulls are transported to the farm from the sale and ‘unloaded’ into the herd. These young bulls should not be turned out and forgotten. Do not permit bulls to overdo it their first exposure to the cows,” Neel said. He recommends exposing young bulls to about 18 females during a 90-day breeding season for optimal performance.
Since exposure to a large number of cows will result in reduced reproductive performance, Neel says producers should provide a pen or area where each young bull can be isolated for a month or so. “This provides an opportunity for the bull to get acclimated to his new environment and can also serve as a period of isolation to reduce the possibility of bringing a disease into the herd,” Neel said.

Neel also recommends producers utilize a feeding stall or someplace where the bull can be fed without competing with the cows to ensure that he consumes the appropriate amount of feed. “Continue to manage the bull like he is an investment,” said Neel, “because he represents the future of your herd.”
For more tips about cattle management, visit the UT Extension publications website  or contact your local county UT Extension office.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issue at the local, state and national levels.


Dr. Jim Neel, 865-974-3189,


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