Breeding Soundness Exam

Breeding Soundness Exam

(BSE, Semen test, semen evaluation, fertility test)

A breeding soundness exam should be performed on all breeding bulls at least once a year a minimum of 60 days prior to being turned out with cows. A breeding soundness exam is often abbreviated as BSE. Other commonly used names for this is semen test, semen evaluation, fertility test, etc. The purpose of this exam is to detect any problems that may prevent the bull from servicing his prescribed number of cows in a specified breeding season. The breeding soundness exam includes evaluation of structural soundness, body condition, eyes, teeth, signs of infectious diseases, internal accessory sex glands, scrotum, testicles, penis, and semen quality. If the bull is not satisfactory in any of these areas, he will not pass this exam. This is one of the most important things a producer can do to improve productivity and profitability in his herd.

-What is a breeding soundness exam (BSE)?

A BSE is an exam that is performed by a veterinarian on a bull prior to breeding cows. This exam is intended to look for evidence that the bull is reproductively and structurally sound enough to breed a certain amount of cows/heifers in a specified period of time.

-Is a Breeding Soundness Exam the same thing as a Fertility test?

People often use the two terms interchangeably.  However, the two are not the same. During a BSE, only a portion of an ejaculate is collected to evaluate overall sperm quality. In order to evaluate fertility, a complete ejaculate is required and more advanced testing of the sperm is performed. Unlike a true fertility test, a BSE does not determine if a bull can create a pregnancy. Instead, a BSE determines if a bull can create enough pregnancies to be economical for an operation. It also detects conditions that may be heritable that could lower herd performance.

-Importance of a breeding soundness exam?

A Bull BSE is extremely important for a cow-calf operation. If not performed or not performed properly, a producer may end up with a smaller calf crop than expected and cost the operation a lot of money.

-When should a Breeding Soundness Exam be done?

This exam should be done when purchasing a bull. It should also be done by a veterinarian that you trust! Even though he was supposedly tested prior to purchase, it is recommended to have your veterinarian test him again to be sure that he is still breeding sound. Farms often guarantee bulls for a period of time (year or so) following purchase. If there is a problem, you need to find out as soon as possible so that the bull can replaced before the guarantee expires. Additionally, a breeding soundness exam should be performed on all breeding bulls annually,  around 60 days prior to the breeding season. This allows time to find a replacement bull if necessary, time to retest him if treatment is required to correct an issue, and time to vaccinate him prior to being turned out with the cows.

-Is this procedure dangerous for my bull?

This is typically a very safe procedure. Proper restraint is required, however. If the bull cannot be properly restrained, he may injure himself or people involved with the exam.


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