Beef producers who want to purchase bulls or semen for their spring breeding herds should be doing their homework now, says a Purdue Extension beef specialist.

Cow-calf producers can take advantage of high market prices by selecting healthy bulls that will produce calves with more growth potential.

"If we can buy bulls that will produce offspring that will be born with a minimum of dystocia, grow a little bit faster, will produce a little bit higher-quality carcass and produce replacement females that perform above average, I think our cow-calf producers have the opportunity to capitalize," Ron Lemenager said.

Producers can do this by looking at what will affect offspring and doing plenty of research before investing.

"Good bulls come from good cows," Lemenager said. "So if producers can take a look at mom before they purchase that bull, I think it helps minimize some of the risk."

But even if the dam looks good and is healthy, a bull's own merit still needs to be evaluated, starting with reproductive soundness. They should have a breeding soundness evaluation that includes both a physical exam and semen quality evaluation. Many seedstock operations offer a breeding guarantee to the buyer.

Lemenager also said it's important to know the animal's health status.

"Know the background of the bull and the vaccination history," he said. "If you're buying an older bull, be sure the animal doesn't have any venereal diseases that are going to come back into the herd. I really like the idea of buying a virgin bull to minimize the risk."