News Article selected in the Archive of 2012: The new bull battles!
Date: June 2012
Haven't we all had the experience that a new bull shows some adaptation problems when arriving at the farm?
The adaptation period usually occurs directly after an auction and can last as long as 3 to 6 months after the bull has arrived at its new destination. At Hartebeestloop we also had experienced that our bulls sometimes struggle to adapt at their new owners' farms. The reason for this is quite obvious - the animals are well prepared for the auction and the marketing photographs but directly after the auction they have to adapt and perform whilst exposed to a new (or even no) feeding program.
To address this problem, we changed our previous program and now follow this regime with great success:
1. Our auction animals received supplementary feeding while grazing in the veld. At Hartebeestloop we manufacture our own supplementary feeding - in tablet form - and it mainly consists of natural grasses (70%) that occur in the area.
2. Towards the end of February, the average weights for the auction bulls were between 720 and 750 kg. This is the target weight that we have set at Hartebeestloop for our medium framed bulls. At this weight they are in excellent working condition.
3. After all the photos and marketing material had been compiled, we sent the bulls back to the veld to continue grazing. We then started to gradually decrease the supplementary feeding.
4. As of the 15th of March the bulls only received supplementary feeding which is equal to 0.3 % of their body weight, while they continued to graze in the veld.
5. The reason for still providing 0.3 % feed is to keep their rumens accustomed to the supplementary feeding that they will receive during the Farmers day and Auction day - on the 23rd and 24th of May respectively. During these two days the bulls will be kept in pens and we want to take care to prevent the animals from becoming bloated.
At Hartebeestloop this system works quite well for us and we can recommend it to other breeders. The system is however dependent on the condition of the veld and the auction date. We have found that the auction in May suites our bulls the best here in the Kalahari, as April is the best grazing month of the year and the animals excel in the veld. For us, the most positive aspect of it all is that the complaints of bull adaptation have ceased completely. Our bulls can now go straight from the auction to the cows in the veld without too much adaptation issues. The bulls are in excellent condition without being fat.