I often have customers call me up to tell me they have a dud bull. A dud bull is a bull that is not interested in breeding cows. While cows are riding one another and at least one cow is obviously in standing heat, the bull will be lying down calmly chewing his cud – oblivious to all the action taking place.
I tell the customer that the only way we can know for sure what is going on is to be there 24 hours a day. That bull could have already covered that cow several times before the customer arrived on the scene. Cows will usually be in standing heat for several hours. It is unreasonable to expect the bull to continue to breed the same cow over and over and over every five to ten minutes just so we can see him in action.
If it is a real concern, I suggest the customer corral the bull across a good fence from the cowherd. When a cow is coming into heat, the bull should be watching with increasing interest. I tell the customer to wait until the cow has been in standing heat for an hour, and then let the bull in with the cows. It won’t take long to determine if the bull is interested in cows or not. It is extremely rare to find a bull that is light in the loafers.
This also provides an opportunity to make sure the bull is properly penetrating the cow. From a distance you can’t always tell. From a distance, I always watch for the final thrust that indicates the bull has completed the job. If something is wrong, you won’t see the thrust.
Over the years, I have noticed that some bulls are shy breeders. You will almost never see them mount a cow. This is the result of a built-in survival instinct. Cattle should view people as predators. When a predator is in the vicinity, the smart ones do not want to be caught in a compromising situation. A shy bull is a smart bull. He will ignore the hot cow until the predator is no longer a threat.