Lameness in bulls is a major impediment to their reproductive performance – as you can well imagine it makes their job a lot harder.

It is a common condition with 20-35% of cows suffering from it to some degree. If a bull has a lameness problem he probably won’t be able to perform his task.

When buying a bull you have to look out for lameness. A good thing to look out for is if a bull’s hooves are tender or if he has any difficulty getting up or lying down.

The fact that a bull has sired calves in the past is not a reliable guide to his current fertility.


Lameness in bulls can come about for a number of reasons, including:

  • Physical injury to the hoof or leg
  • Poor leg and foot structure and its resulting uneven hoof growth
  • Lesions
    Infectious Lesions – digital dermatitis and foot rot
    Non-infectious Lesions – white line, sole ulcer or bruising, inter-digital lesions
  • Disease of limbs and joints
    Crucially, the fallout of joint disease is arthritis and this is detrimental to the performance of the bull.
    The inflammation results in reduced ability and desire to serve cows.

Correct angle of pastern joint bull lame

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Preventing Arthritis in your bull

  • Prevent excessive weight gain, by carefully managing how much you feed your bull and monitoring his exercise.

  • Ensure the bull has a balanced diet, and his minerals are balanced. A lack of phosphorus can bring about swelling and lameness.
    A calcium deficiency can be harmful too especially if your bull is deficient in vitamin D or vitamin A. Calcium deficiency is often associated with high grain feeding.

  • Prevent your bulls from getting injured. Make sure the through roads on your farm are well surfaced as injuries can happen to your bull or cows while they are being moved from one place to another. Lameness can be especially costly in dairy cows. If you have a second bull, don’t put them together as bull fights are a brilliant way to get injured.

  • Some arthritis is preordained – some bulls are more prone to arthritis than others because of their genetics

  • Arthritis can be caused by a bacterial infection.

If there is a lameness problem, call veterinary assistance for prompt treatment.

big fat bull

Advantages of Moocall HEAT

If indeed a bull is infertile and you fail to pick up on it, the Moocall HEAT sensor will feed you real time data that could save you a lot of time and hassle.

bull wearing moocall heat collar and cow wearing moocall rfid tags with signal graphic between them

The collar will tell you how often a cow mounts or half mounts, and if the bull is injured or demotivated to do his job, then it will minimise the cost.

If there is a sudden change in your bull’s performance, you’ll know about it early, rather than waiting for your cows to return to heat three or six weeks later.

Learn more about Moocall HEAT here: