Bull

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A Charolais bull Taureau charolais au pre.jpg
A Charolais bull

A bull is an intact (i.e., not castrated) adult male of the species Bos taurus . More muscular and aggressive than the females of the same species, the cows, bulls have long been an important symbol in many cultures, and play a significant role in beef ranching, dairy farming, and a variety of other cultural activities, including bull fighting and bull riding.

Contents

Nomenclature

The female counterpart to a bull is a cow, while a male of the species that has been castrated is a steer, ox , [1] or bullock, although in North America, this last term refers to a young bull,[ citation needed ] and in Australia to an draught animal. Use of these terms varies considerably with area and dialect. Colloquially, people unfamiliar with cattle may refer to both castrated and intact animals as "bulls".

A wild, young, unmarked bull is known as a micky in Australia. [2] Improper or late castration on a bull results in it becoming a coarse steer, also known as a stag in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. [3] In some countries, an incompletely castrated male is known also as a rig or ridgling .

The word "bull" also denotes the males of other bovines, including bison and water buffalo, as well as many other species of large animals, including elephants, rhinos, seals and walruses, hippos, camels, giraffes, elk, moose, whales, and antelopes.

Characteristics

A Scottish Highland bull Highland Cattle bull.jpg
A Scottish Highland bull

Bulls are much more muscular than cows, with thicker bones, larger feet, a very muscular neck, and a large, bony head with protective ridges over the eyes. These features assist bulls in fighting for domination over a herd, giving the winner superior access to cows for reproduction. [4] The hair is generally shorter on the body, but the neck and head often have a "mane" of curlier, wooly hair. Bulls are usually about the same height as cows or a little taller, but because of the additional muscle and bone mass, they often weigh far more. Most of the time, a bull has a hump on his shoulders. [5] In horned cattle, the horns of bulls tend to be thicker and somewhat shorter than those of cows, [6] and in many breeds, they curve outwards in a flat arc rather than upwards in a lyre shape. It is not true, as is commonly believed, that bulls have horns and cows do not: the presence of horns depends on the breed, or in horned breeds on whether the horns have been disbudded. (It is true, however, that in many breeds of sheep only the males have horns.) Cattle that naturally do not have horns are referred to as polled, or muleys. [7]

Castrated male cattle are physically similar to females in build and horn shape, although if allowed to reach maturity, they may be considerably taller than either bulls or cows, with heavily muscled shoulders and necks. [8]

Reproductive anatomy

The reproductive system of a bull The anatomy of the domestic animals (1914) (20553750880).jpg
The reproductive system of a bull

Bulls become fertile around seven months of age. Their fertility is closely related to the size of their testicles, and one simple test of fertility is to measure the circumference of the scrotum; a young bull is likely to be fertile once this reaches 28 centimetres (11 in); that of a fully adult bull may be over 40 centimetres (16 in). [9] [10] Bulls have a fibroelastic penis. Given the small amount of erectile tissue, little enlargement occurs after erection. The penis is quite rigid when not erect, and becomes even more rigid during erection. Protrusion is not affected much by erection, but more by relaxation of the retractor penis muscle and straightening of the sigmoid flexure. [11] [12] [13] Bulls are occasionally affected by a condition known as "corkscrew penis". [14] [15] The penis of a mature bull is about 3–4 cm in diameter, [16] [17] [18] [19] and 80–100 cm in length. [20] The bull's glans penis has a rounded and elongated shape. [20]

Misconceptions

A common misconception widely repeated in depictions of bull behavior is that the color red angers bulls, inciting them to charge. In fact, like most mammals, cattle are red–green color blind. [21] In bullfighting, the movement of the matador's cape, and not the color, provokes a reaction in the bull.

Management

Beef production

Other than the few bulls needed for breeding, the vast majority of male cattle are castrated and slaughtered for meat before the age of three years, except where they are needed (castrated) as work oxen for haulage. Most of these beef animals are castrated as calves to reduce aggressive behavior and prevent unwanted mating, [22] although some are reared as uncastrated bull beef. A bull is typically ready for slaughter one or two months sooner than a castrated male or a female, and produces proportionately more and leaner muscle. [22]

Frame score is a useful way of describing the skeletal size of bulls and other cattle. Frame scores can be used as an aid to predict mature cattle sizes and aid in the selection of beef bulls. They are calculated from hip height and age. In sales catalogues, this measurement is frequently reported in addition to weight and other performance data such as estimated breed value. [23]

Temperament and handling

A bull paws up dust in a threat display Angry Bull in Pasture.jpg
A bull paws up dust in a threat display
A warning sign for a bull-occupied field Warning sign - bull in field - keep out.JPG
A warning sign for a bull-occupied field

Adult bulls may weigh between 500 and 1,000 kg (1,100 and 2,200 lb). Most are capable of aggressive behavior and require careful handling to ensure safety of humans and other animals. Those of dairy breeds may be more prone to aggression, while beef breeds are somewhat less aggressive, though beef breeds such as the Spanish Fighting Bull and related animals are also noted for aggressive tendencies, which are further encouraged by selective breeding.

An estimated 42% of all livestock-related fatalities in Canada are a result of bull attacks, and fewer than one in 20 victims of a bull attack survives. [24] Dairy breed bulls are particularly dangerous and unpredictable; the hazards of bull handling are a significant cause of injury and death for dairy farmers in some parts of the United States. [25] [26] [27] The need to move a bull in and out of its pen to cover cows exposes the handler to serious jeopardy of life and limb. [28] Being trampled, jammed against a wall, or gored by a bull was one of the most frequent causes of death in the dairy industry before 1940. [29] With regard to such risks, one popular farming magazine has suggested, "Handle the bull with a staff and take no chances. The gentle bull, not the vicious one, most often kills or maims his keeper". [30]

Handling

A bull with a nose ring that tethers him to a picket TORO.jpg
A bull with a nose ring that tethers him to a picket

In many areas, placing rings in bulls' noses to help control them is traditional. The ring is usually made of copper, and is inserted through a small hole cut in the septum of the nose. It is used by attaching a lead rope either directly to it or running through it from a head collar, or for more difficult bulls, a bull pole (or bull staff) may be used. This is a rigid pole about 1 m (3 ft) long with a clip at one end; this attaches to the ring and allows the bull both to be led and to be held away from his handler.

An aggressive bull may be kept confined in a bull pen, a robustly constructed shelter and pen, often with an arrangement to allow the bull to be fed without entering the pen. If an aggressive bull is allowed to graze outside, additional precautions may be needed to help avoid him harming people. One method is a bull mask, which either covers the bull's eyes completely, or restricts his vision to the ground immediately in front of him, so he cannot see his potential victim. Another method is to attach a length of chain to the bull's nose-ring, so that if he ducks his head to charge, he steps on the chain and is brought up short. Alternatively, the bull may be hobbled, or chained by his ring or by a collar to a solid object such as a ring fixed into the ground.

In larger pastures, particularly where a bull is kept with other cattle, the animals may simply be fed from a pickup truck or tractor, the vehicle itself providing some protection for the humans involved. Generally, bulls kept with cows tend to be less aggressive than those kept alone. In herd situations, cows with young calves are often more dangerous to humans. In the off season, multiple bulls may be kept together in a "bachelor herd".

Artificial insemination

Bullfighting San marcos bullfight 01.jpg
Bullfighting

Many cattle ranches and stations run bulls with cows, and most dairy or beef farms traditionally had at least one, if not several, bulls for purposes of herd maintenance. [31] [32] However, the problems associated with handling a bull (particularly where cows must be removed from his presence to be worked) has prompted many dairy farmers to restrict themselves to artificial insemination (AI) of the cows. [33] Semen is removed from the bulls and stored in canisters of liquid nitrogen, where it is kept until it can be sold, at which time it can be very profitable; in fact, many ranchers keep bulls specifically for this purpose. AI is also used to improve the quality of a herd, or to introduce an outcross of bloodlines. Some ranchers prefer to use AI to allow them to breed to several different bulls in a season or to breed their best stock to a higher-quality bull than they could afford to purchase outright. AI may also be used in conjunction with embryo transfer to allow cattle producers to add new breeding to their herds.

Relationship with humans

An aurochs bull in a cave painting in Lascaux, France Lascaux painting.jpg
An aurochs bull in a cave painting in Lascaux, France
A bull used in heraldry: Coat of arms of Mecklenburg region, Germany Mecklenburg Arms.svg
A bull used in heraldry: Coat of arms of Mecklenburg region, Germany

Aside from their reproductive duties, bulls are also used in certain sports, including bullfighting and bull riding. They are also incorporated into festivals and folk events such as the Running of the Bulls and were seen in ancient sports such as bull-leaping. Though less common than castrated males, bulls are used as draught oxen in some areas. [34] [35] The once-popular sport of bull-baiting, in which a bull is attacked by specially bred and trained dogs (which came to be known as bulldogs), was banned in England by the Cruelty to Animals Act 1835.

As with other animals, some bulls have been regarded as pets. The singer Charo, for instance, has owned a pet bull named Manolo. [36]

Significance in human culture

Sacred bulls have held a place of significance in human culture since before the beginning of recorded history. They appear in cave paintings estimated to be up to 17,000 years old. The mythic Bull of the Heavens plays a role in the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh , dating as far back as 2150 BC. The importance of the bull is reflected in its appearance in the zodiac as Taurus, and its numerous appearances in mythology, where it is often associated with fertility. See also Korban. In Hinduism, a bull named Nandi, usually depicted seated, is worshipped as the vehicle of the god Shiva and depicted on many of the images of that deity.

A bull head in the coat of arms of Joroinen Joroinen.vaakuna.svg
A bull head in the coat of arms of Joroinen

Symbolically, the bull appears commonly in heraldry. Bulls appears as charges and crests on the arms of several British families. Winged bulls appear as supporters in the arms of the Worshipful Company of Butchers. [37] In modern times, the bull is used as a mascot by both amateur and professional sports teams.

Bulls also have a special significance in Spanish culture, where the Running of the Bulls celebration occurs every year in summer. During this festival, a group of human runners called "mozos" try to outrace a group of bulls running behind them, while large crowds watch the entire race. [38]

See also

Related Research Articles

Calf

A calf is a young domestic cow or bull. Calves are reared to become adult cattle or are slaughtered for their meat, called veal, and hide.

Red Poll Dual-purpose cattle breed

The Red Poll is a dual-purpose breed of cattle developed in England in the latter half of the 19th century. The Red Poll is a cross of the Norfolk Red beef cattle and Suffolk Dun dairy cattle breeds.

Highland cattle Scottish breed of rustic cattle

The Highland is a Scottish breed of rustic cattle. It originated in the Scottish Highlands and the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland and has long horns and a long shaggy coat. It is a hardy breed, bred to withstand the intemperate conditions in the region. The first herd-book dates from 1885; two types – a smaller island type, usually black, and a larger mainland type, usually dun – were registered as a single breed. It is reared primarily for beef, and has been exported to several other countries.

Holstein Friesian cattle Breed of dairy cattle

Holstein Friesians are a breed of dairy cattle originating from the Dutch provinces of North Holland and Friesland, and Schleswig-Holstein in Northern Germany. They are known as the world's highest-production dairy animals.

Heck cattle Breed of cattle

Heck cattle are a hardy breed of domestic cattle. These cattle are the result of an attempt by the Heck brothers to breed back the extinct aurochs from modern aurochs-derived cattle in the 1920s and 1930s. Controversy revolves around methodology and success of the programme. There are considerable differences between Heck cattle and the aurochs in build, height, and body proportions. Furthermore, there are other cattle breeds which resemble their wild ancestors at least as much as Heck cattle.

English Longhorn British breed of cattle

English Longhorn cattle are a long-horned brown and white breed of beef cattle originating from Craven, in the north of England. The breed was initially used as a draught animal, which its body is well suited for; the milk was also collected for butter and cheese because of its high butterfat content. An individual farmer would have owned one or two cows; these would have been accompanied by a bull owned by the Lord of the Manor. The notable long, curved horns that serve to distinguish this breed from others can make an individual appear aggressive, although by temperament they are usually friendly. Longhorns live surprisingly longer than other breeds of cattle and are also known for calving with ease. They have a white patch along the line of their spine and under their bellies.

Lakenvelder cattle Breed of dairy cattle

The Dutch Belted breed of dairy cattle is, according to records, the only belted breed of cattle tracing back directly to the original belted or "canvassed" cattle which were described in Switzerland and Austria. These Gurtenvieh were evidently moved by Dutch nobility from the mountain farms of canton Appenzell and County of Tyrol during or soon after the feudal period. The Dutch were very protective of their belted cattle and would generally not part with them. The cattle were highly prized for their milking and fattening abilities. The breed began to flourish in the Netherlands around 1750. Now, the cow is too rare to become a popular type of beef.

Dairy cattle cattle bred to produce milk

Dairy cattle are female cattle bred for the ability to produce large quantities of milk, from which dairy products are made. Dairy cows generally are of the species Bos taurus.

Afrikaner cattle Breed of cattle

The Afrikaner, also known as the Africander, is a breed of taurine-indicine ("Sanga") cattle indigenous to South Africa.

Stallion male horse that has not been castrated

A stallion is a male horse that has not been gelded (castrated). Stallions follow the conformation and phenotype of their breed, but within that standard, the presence of hormones such as testosterone may give stallions a thicker, "cresty" neck, as well as a somewhat more muscular physique as compared to female horses, known as mares, and castrated males, called geldings.

Red Sindhi Breed of cattle

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Beef cattle Breed of cattle

Beef cattle are cattle raised for meat production. The meat of mature or almost mature cattle is mostly known as beef. In beef production there are three main stages: cow-calf operations, backgrounding, and feedlot operations. The production cycle of the animals start at cow-calf operations; this operation is designed specifically to breed cows for their offspring. From here the calves are backgrounded for a feedlot. Animals grown specifically for the feedlot are known as feeder cattle, the goal of these animals is fattening. Animals not grown for a feedlot are typically female and are commonly known as replacement heifers. While the principal use of beef cattle is meat production, other uses include leather, and beef by-products used in candy, shampoo, cosmetics, insulin and inhalers.

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Nose ring (animal)

A nose ring is a ring made of metal designed to be installed through the nasal septum of pigs as well as domestic cattle, usually bulls. In pigs, nose rings are alternatively pierced through the rim of the nose. Nose rings are often required for bulls when exhibited at agricultural shows. There is a clip-on ring design used for controlling and directing cattle for handling. Nose rings are used to encourage the weaning of young calves by discouraging them from suckling.

Livestock dehorning The process of removing the horns of livestock

Dehorning is the process of removing the horns of livestock. Cattle, sheep, and goats are sometimes dehorned for economic and safety reasons. Disbudding is a different process with similar results; it cauterizes and thus destroys horn buds before they have grown into horns. Disbudding is commonly performed early in an animal's life, as are other procedures such as docking and castration.

Australian Charbray Breed of cattle

The Australian Charbray is an Australian breed of cattle derived from a cross between the French Charolais cattle and American Brahman cattle. The charbray breed was first conceived in the United States of America in the 1930s and later introduced into Australia in 1969. In Australia, Australian charbray breeders are concentrated in the tropical Northern regions of Queensland. As of 1977, the official breeder society of Charbray cattle in Australia and New Zealand is the Charbray Society of Australia Limited, responsible for recording Charbray cattle in herd books, fostering improvement, enhancement and sales of Charbray cattle.

Norwegian Red Breed of cattle

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Cattle Most common type of large domesticated ungulate

Cattle, or cows (female) and bulls (male), are large domesticated cloven-hooved herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos taurus.

Cow–calf operation Method of raising beef cattle

A cow calf operation is a method of raising beef cattle in which a permanent herd of cows is kept by a farmer or rancher to produce calves for later sale. Cow–calf operations are one of the key aspects of the beef industry in the United States and many other countries. In the British Isles, a cow–calf operation may be known as a single-suckler herd. The goal of a cow–calf operation is to produce young beef cattle, which are usually sold. A rancher who works within such a model is often called a "cow–calf operator" in the United States.

Agriculture in Wales

Agriculture in Wales has in the past been a major part of the economy of Wales, a largely rural country that forms part of the United Kingdom. Wales is mountainous and has a mild, wet climate. This results in only a small proportion of the land area being suitable for arable cropping, but grass for the grazing of livestock is present in abundance. As a proportion of the national economy, the importance of agriculture has become much reduced; a high proportion of the population now live in the towns and cities in the south of the country and tourism has become an important form of income in the countryside and on the coast. Arable cropping is limited to the flatter parts and elsewhere dairying and livestock farming predominate.

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