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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘Do not put a bull in a dark shed on his own where he cannot see anything’

A “well-designed” bull pen is “essential” for the proper management of a bull/bulls on farms, a third-generation stock bull breeder has stressed.

During Teagasc Sligo Leitrim Donegal’s webinar on cattle breeding: bull safety and fertility, Brendan Caslin advised farmers of the dos and don’ts regarding bull housing on farms.

He told farmers that a bull pen should be located in a position where the bull(s) can see other cattle and daily farm activity in the farm yard.

Caslin commented: “Do not put a bull in a dark shed on his own where he cannot see anything or does not know what is going on.”

“Moreover, the structure must be strong and high enough to stop them from escaping. I always encourage vertical bars in gates, so that if a bull tries to cross a gate, generally, if there are vertical bars in gates and the feet can go between bars rather than getting caught on top of a horizontal bar and breaking a leg very easily.”

Safety features

Moreover, he said that other features include facilities for feeding and watering bulls outside of pens.

Many modern bull houses incorporate a feeding stand, loose house area, exercise area and a service pen, all under one roof and interlinked by gates.

The ag advisor remarked that the above is “the Rolls-Royce of a bull house, but you can adapt a lot of bull houses quite reasonably money-wise”.

“I would have no bother spending money on adopting a bull house from a health and safety point of view.”

Caslin added that a drop gate operated remotely from outside the pen enables the farmer to isolate the bull inside the feeding stand, so the person can work in the other areas free from danger.

“It is a personal experience of mine that I do not like having bulls on slats. Bulls love routine, so on our farm at home, we tend to bring the cow or the heifer to the bull and let him serve them and then take them away.”

“We direct the bull back into the house and feed him meal or silage or hay as a kind of a reward,” he concluded.

Farmers can access some detailed sign specs for bull facilities – in the form of ideas and drawings – from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s website.

Earlier in the virtual information session, he urged farmers to “try to get children out of the habitat of petting calves,” which you can read via this news article.

Previous article on That’s Farming on ‘Try to get children out of the habitat of petting calves’

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