For certain farms, ranches, and even homesteads, a bull may be an essential item. No bull, no calves or milk. And while many small-scale operations start out using artificial means to get the cows bred, this can become impractical as the herd grows, not to mention the difficulties that sometimes arise with monitoring cycles and synchronizing cows with hormone treatments.
Needless to say, bulls carry a certain level of risk. Even a bull that is not exactly aggressive may take it in his head to test your dominance with a potentially dangerous shove of the head.
While raising a bull to respect humans is essential to keeping a bull safely, genetics also play a part. Whether you are borrowing, leasing, or buying a bull, start off on the right foot by considering one of the safer bull breeds:
- Belgian Blue. Truly a gentle giant, the Belgian Blue can be nearly as affectionate as a dog.
- British White. The British White bull is among the most docile of all. He transmits his good disposition well in crossbreeding, too.
- Canadienne. Canadienne bulls can be extremely docile, provided you have properly established your dominance right from the beginning.
- Devon. Note, however, that the Beef Devon is more docile than the American Milking Devon.
- Dutch Belted. This is a sweet breed overall. Most bulls should not present problems.
- Hereford. The Hereford bull is alert, but he is also naturally respectful toward humans. With proper handling, he will be among the most docile options.
- Red Poll. Smart cattle are not always easy to handle, but the Red Poll is an exception. Bulls of this breed have earned a reputation for their mannerly dispositions.
- Shorthorn. The average Shorthorn bull prefers to move slowly and take life easy, making him a good choice for those seeking a docile bull.
- Simmental. Another naturally relaxed breed. Simmental bulls that are used to human handling often learn to appreciate the attention.
- Tarentaise. Docile and easy to get along with. A good bull for those who need one.
Please keep in mind that not every individual bull of even the most docile breed will be safe. Failure to cull breeding stock with troublesome dispositions can take an easygoing breed in the wrong direction quickly (temperament is a highly heritable trait). Make sure the breeder of the bull values good disposition just as much as you do.
Also, remember that even a docile bull is still a bull. Always know where your bull is at all times, and do not permit him to test the boundaries with impunity. If a bull displays dominant behavior such as lowering his head, advance toward him calmly and steadily until he moves back out of your space.
Why Are Dairy Bulls More Dangerous Than Beef Bulls?
Learn more about the various factors that affect bull disposition, including genetics, upbringing, and bull management.
Choosing a Breed of Cattle
Learn more about the temperament of 40 common cattle breeds, along with their uses, size, preferred climate, health, and production traits. Free sample pages are available.