“Teat Placement on Bulls”
From the Classic Livestock's Newsletter “Hormonal Mail,” Australia, April 2016

        “Most of you have heard the saying “as useless as teats on a bull”.
        “Well, we would like to question that old saying. We believe that the positioning of the teats on a bull is an indicator of the shape of the teats on his daughters. We also believe that it is a very under-utilised indicator in the bull show ring, judging by the number of bulls we are seeing that have one or both teats on the scrotum. Ideally, both teats should be clearly positioned on the bull’s stomach in front of the scrotum. Half an inch plus in front is a good start. Invariably, bulls that have one or both teats on the scrotum will produce heifers that can start to develop bulbous and bottle shaped teats as early as their second calf and some even earlier. Certainly as the cow gets older, the teats will become more misshapen and difficult for the calf to suckle.
        “Bulls should have similar teat characteristics to those of well- proportioned cows, although of course, on a much smaller scale. Bulls teats should be a cylindrical, pencil like shape and uniform in size and diameter and approx. 2 – 2.5 cm. in length. The size and shape of the teats will also accurately reflect the hormonal balance and activity of the animal. The spacing between front and back teats should be similar. Avoid using bulls that have misshapen teats. I have seen many with little more than a bare patch of skin with a slight extension where a well formed teat should be. This will also reflect through to that bull’s daughter’s teat shape. I have also seen some bulls with 6 teats on rare occasions. I’m not certain what this means, however, especially when they are all off the scrotum, I am prepared to say at this stage that the extra teat will provide an indication of butter fat as it does with the extra teats on the back of a cow’s udder. Another point to be aware of is that sometimes at first glance the rear teats on Bos Indicus bulls will appear to be on the top of or in the corner of the scrotum. Closer examination will actually reveal that they are off the scrotum because Bos Indicus bulls will often have a fold of skin at the front of the scrotum that the teat is attached to that can be misleading if you don’t actually physically move it forward.
        “Teat placement on bulls is just one indicator that the scrotum area on a bull has that can be used by producers when they are selecting a bull for their herd. A bull’s scrotum area should be seen as the mirror for the udder and teat area of his daughters. We have previously discussed some of these other considerations and will do so more in the future. Suffice to say at the moment is that scrotum shape and testes placement will have a strong bearing on udder shape and balance. So-called minor indiscretions in a bulls scrotum like twisted testicles will impact on a bull’s daughter’s udder and is likely to cause unevenness and imbalance. Usually twisted testicles are caused by the piece of skin at the rear of the scrotum that stretches down from above the scrotum and holds the back of it in place. It usually also becomes more prominent as a bull ages. We also believe that this skin strip is indicative of the strength of the suspensory ligament in a cow so if it is weak in a bull or to one side of the scrotum it will ultimately lead to pendulous udders in an offending bull’s daughters.
        “Another important consideration is the hair on the scrotum. It needs to be soft, silky and have a velvety feel with it. This carries through to a bull’s daughters. Long course hair on the udder is a good indicator of “see through” milk i.e. low in butterfat. So with hair on bulls, look for course, curly hair (especially Bos Taurus) on the head and neck going through to the shoulders of a bull until you get to the rear end where it gradually becomes soft and silky on the scrotum.”

thanks to Danny Collins, Jesses Hill Dexter Cattle, Lawrenceburg TN

 

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