When raising a young bull on your farm, be very careful with how you handle him. Here is part 2 on Tips for Raising a Herd Bull. Be sure to check out tips 1 through 4.
5. Move the bull with grain.
We've taught all our cows to come to grain. This helps with moving them. You can do this with a bull too, and it simplifies moving, loading, and unloading the bull.
6. Watch for cows in heat
All bets for normal behavior are off when a cow is in heat. Stay out of the field and never get between a bull and a cow that's in heat. He'll see you as a potential threat, and you will not win.
7. Pay attention.
Always be conscious of where the bull is and what he's doing if you're working in the field. Paying attention saves more lives than any other skill on the farm. Teach your kids to pay attention, and tell them to stay out of the field where the bull is located.
If your fully-grown bull begins to act aggressively, shaking his head or showing you his side, you should slowly back away. Do not run, and do not turn your back to him. Learn to recognize signs of aggressive cattle behavior so you can retreat if needed.
8. Give him some company.
If you have a single calving season, for a good portion of the year, your bull will be idle. In fact, you may choose to keep him separated from the rest of the herd to keep him from breeding young replacement heifers. To keep your bull content, you shouldn't pen him all by himself. He'll be happier if he has a steer in the pen with him.
9. Know your bull.
Our bulls are, as bulls go, fairly mellow. If your bull is more aggressive, you should behave accordingly. Knowing what to expect and staying aware of what's happening will help you stay safer.
10. Fence him properly.
Bulls need strong fencing to keep them in. We use several strands of barbed wire with two electric wires. Still, we try to avoid having cows in heat in an adjacent field to our bull. Bulls are very strong and they can easily push over a fence.
11. Choose the right breed.
Dairy bulls are notoriously dangerous. I don't know that we would consider keeping a dairy bull here on our farm, no matter how they were raised or treated. However, the bulls of many other breeds can be safely kept if one is careful. If you're buying a bull, you're better off to buy from a farmer that you know and trust or one that has a good reputation. Alternately, you can buy a registered bull with a good docility score. Buying a bull from a sale barn is a pretty big gamble, so that would be a last resort.
You can keep a bull on your farm and still enjoy a peaceful farm life if you are cautious and plan accordingly. Use these tips to keep yourself and your family safe while on the farm.