Breeders offer their top tips for buying a new bull. Are you off to a sale? Have you thought about what will improve your herd?

You’re heading off to a sale to buy a new bull for the ladies, you have the trailer hitched, a breed in mind and you’ve been given a stern talking to about how much you are allowed to spend! These top tips from two well-known Northern Ireland breeders may come in handy and prevent you from coming home with something that is just not suited to your herd!

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 4:30 pm

Libby Clarke from Magheralin, near Moira, produces pedigree beef shorthorn and Charolais cattle. As well as being a breeder, Libby is a cattle judge and juggles all of that with running her own estate agency business.

Victor Chestnutt is the president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union.

He is a sixth generation livestock farmer from the North Coast, near the Giants Causeway.

Libby Clarke.

Victor farms sucklers and pedigree Texel sheep, with his son introducing dairying to the farm back in 2009.

Both Libby and Victor have extensive knowledge when it comes to knowing what animal is right for a herd and have bought one or two bulls over the years!

Here, they share with Farming Life readers their top tips for what you should be looking for when it comes to purchasing a new stock bull.

Libby’s tips:

Victor Chestnutt.

1. Ensure that he has a leg in every corner, and knows how to use them.

It’s no good if he can’t chase the ladies!

2. It’s always best if they are nice and friendly.

This makes it easier bringing him back from the neighbour’s heifers.

3. Keep an eye on genes, not jeans.

If you’re after a Chippendale, go for double muscling gene.

4. Be good to them when you get them home.

Bulls are like people, they’re social creatures, so keep company nearby until they settle in.

5. Buy him before you need him.

Don’t get caught out with one that doesn’t work - try him out well in advance!

6. ‘Swipe right’!

Think of all the things your bull should have to match the profile of your cows, and improve your herd through breeding.

Victor’s tips:

1. Make sure he is functional to start with!

He needs to be up to the job!

2. You want something with good feet and good mobility.

3. Spend twice as much as you intended to spend.

Spend a bit more if you can, because he is half your herd.

4. You have to get the cows calved, so you don’t want the shoulders to be too wide.

You don’t want them to be a cow killer.

5. Look out for the three ‘C’s - correctness, carcass and character.

6. Avoid something that is overfed. You don’t want them too fat.

Some good tips to bear in mind and, if you are planning on attending one of the upcoming sales, happy shopping!