Updated: Jan 30, 2020
“Don’t keep a bull.”
“For heaven’s sake, don’t keep a dairy bull.”
“If you’re going to keep a dairy bull, don’t ever keep a jersey bull.”
I’ve heard it all, and I’ve said those things to myself. But. We. Did. It. We have a jersey bull.
His name is Leo, and he’s a gem.
But I didn’t start with a bull. I started with sweet cows and I graduated to a bull. I’m glad for that. In the dairy world, it sounds idyllic to have your cow producing your milk and then you just keep milking her. The only problem is…that cow will only produce so long unless she gets pregnant again.
There are three ways to get your heifer pregnant. The most common method these days is AI (artificial insemination). That sounds so incredibly easy…but I called everyone I could find in my network of farmers in this area – I couldn’t get one single person to come out to my neck of the woods to do AI. So I watched a video to see how hard it would be to learn...and my friends say I can still totally learn. But I was horrified as the man explained how AI actually worked and I thought to myself, I can't bring myself to do that yet. One day, maybe...
So, method 2 – rent a bull. We did this. It was great. A cute, young bull named Lumino hopped off the trailer full of spunk and excitement. He was the man. He was excited. The cows were excited. It was an amazing couple of months that he stayed here. I learned something. Lumino wasn’t like the other bulls I had been around. I also started asking my friend Suzanne, who has a bunch of jersey bulls held in by one electric line living right around her house and acting as the lawn mowers for her front yard, how she kept bulls. You can keep bulls, but you have to learn HOW to keep bulls. Again, I’m forever thankful for older, more knowledgeable farmers. And so I asked and I practiced. Lumino was a great start for us. His couple of months were up and like the stud muffin he was, he hopped back up on his trailer after we had had a great meal with our friends who took home. He’s now having a great life in Canada the last time I heard and I hope he’s making lots of calves just like him.
So, method 3 – own your own bull. That’s where we are now. Leo runs with our girls. We keep heat patches on them so that we can track their cycles. That way we can separate out our young ones from him so that they don’t get pregnant too soon. But, it’s been amazing. We don’t handle Leo. We don’t pet Leo. We give him the respect he needs and we know where he is. But, truly, every person and animal has their own personality. If you know your animals, you can start to anticipate their needs and quirks.
Still, Leo is a dairy bull. We always know where he is in the pasture and we have an exit plan. That is just being prudent.