Reproductive potential could have been damaged by extreme weather


The cold weather of the past winter may have damaged your herd bull's reproductive potential. Photo courtesy UTIA.

As a cattle producer, did you direct any extra attention to the herd bull during the winter?

Jim Neel, University of Tennessee Extension cattle specialist says most producers directed their cold weather concerns toward the cow herd and calves. Neglecting the bull during this particularly cold winter, however, may have hurt his reproductive potential. “Under normal Tennessee winters, the effects of cold weather would not be a problem,” said Neel. “But, the long cold spell experienced across Tennessee could have resulted in frostbite on the bull’s scrotum and severely reduced his reproductive potential.”

“Bulls that have been exposed to the extreme cold weather can experience frostbite and can cause subfertility or in extreme cases, infertility,” Neel said. He recommends that producers examine their bulls’ scrotum for scabs. “Scabs would probably be found on the lower part of the scrotum,” he said. “Not finding a scab is not an assurance that the reproductive potential is intact. The colder it gets, sperm quality is reduced.”

The cattle expert recommends producers have a Breeding Soundness Examination (BSE) conducted on bulls. “If frostbite is a concern, each bull should have a breeding soundness examination preferably within 45 days after the injury. Check with a local bovine veterinarian and discuss the possibility of frost bite and arrange to have a BSE, he recommended.

“A BSE prior to the breeding season has always been a good practice and may be even more important this year,” said Neel.

For more information on cattle management, contact your local county UT Extension agent or visit the UT Department of Animal Science website: and click on the beef links.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the UT 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 issues at the local, state and national levels.



Jim Neel, UT Department of Animal Science,


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