"Progressive cattle producers who use technology, like heat synchronization and fixed-time artificial insemination, realize a cleanup bull is an important player on the beef team," said Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist.
The term "cleanup bull" is being used more frequently by cow-calf raisers as artificial insemination is more widely used throughout the industry. "We probably need to come up with a more respectable name than, 'cleanup bull' for this important part of the cow-calf operation. Perhaps, refer to them as 'super sub studs'," he surmised.
Cole says it is likely that many envision a cleanup bull as an unattractive bull that may be underfed and under-appreciated. Some see this bull as one that has not been given a breeding soundness exam and received pre-breeding shots, treatment for internal and external parasites.
Clean-up bulls are actually expected to breed 40% to 50% of the females and do it in a limited time. Cleanup breeding usually starts 14 days after AI breeding and lasts 45 days.
Quality clean-up bulls
In addition to being physically fit for breeding, a cleanup bull's genetic makeup should be comparable to the AI sires. The cleanup bull's EPD accuracy value will not be as high as the AI bull's, but the relative EPD for each trait should be similar to the percentile rank of the AI bull.
"A good cleanup bull that complements your herd's goals as a seed stock or commercial producer should be one you'll want to keep around for more than just one breeding season," said Cole. "Top-notch cleanup bulls will probably cost a little more than you thought they would. However, if you select right and take care of him and he sires calves that blend in with the AI calves, he'll be worth it."
According to Cole, the best way to evaluate a cleanup bull is to keep good performance records on his progeny as well as on the AI-sired calves.
"If the cleanup bull's run with others it may be wise to invest in a sire DNA check to prove the parentage. It's even possible you may find a cleanup bull that's an equal to the AI sires you use," said Cole.
Source: University of Missouri Extension