Ask the Vet

Bad Things That Happen to Bulls

Injury or infection can cause inflammation and damage to a bull's testicular tissue. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

Question:

I purchased a group of young bulls in June from a very good breeder. I plan to finish developing them for use next breeding season. On one of the bulls one side of his scrotum is at least twice as big as the other side. He seems fine otherwise. Do you know what this could be?

Answer:

Nothing is more important in a bull than his testicles, and lots of things can happen to them. He could have an orchitis -- an inflammation caused by bacteria that get into the testicles from the blood stream, from other parts of the reproductive tract or via some kind of penetrating wound. Testicular tissue can also be damaged by high temperatures.

Other possibilities include trauma which can lead to a blood clot. This most often occurs while a bull is resting and his scrotum is stepped on, or he is butted. Some young bulls can develop a hydrocele or a fluid-filled sac surrounding the testicle. This can be corrected by surgery in some cases.

Prognosis in these cases is very guarded unless a correctable problem is found. If you like him enough to want to use him, get him checked out as soon as possible.

(VM/CZ)