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A bull is an intact (i.e., not castrated) adult male of the species Bos taurus (cattle). More muscular and aggressive than the female of the species, the cow, the bull has long been an important symbol in many cultures, and plays a significant role in both beef and dairy farming, and in a variety of other cultural activities.

Contents

Nomenclature

The female counterpart to a bull is a cow, while a male of the species which has been castrated is a steer, ox[1] or bullock, although in North America this last term refers to a young bull, and in Australia to a draught animal. Usage 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, camels, elk, moose, and whales.

Characteristics

File:Highland Cattle
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 on the neck and head there is often 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 they often weigh far more.

In horned cattle the horns of bulls tend to be thicker and somewhat shorter than those of cows, 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 (conversely, in many breeds of sheep it is indeed only the males which have horns).

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 (but not necks).[5]

Reproductive anatomy

Bulls become fertile at about 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).[6][7]

Behavior

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.[8] In bullfighting, it is the movement of the matador's cape, and not the color, which provokes a reaction in the bull.

Management

Beef production

Other than the few bulls needed for breeding, the vast majority of male cattle are slaughtered for meat before the age of three years. Most of these beef animals are castrated as calves to reduce aggressive behavior and prevent unwanted mating,[9] 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, leaner muscle.[9]

Temperament and handling

File:Angry Bull in
A bull kicks up dust in a threat display.
File:Warning sign - bull in field - keep
A warning sign for a bull-occupied field.

Adult bulls may weigh between 500 and 1,000 kilograms (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.

It is estimated that 42% of all livestock-related fatalities are a result of bull attacks, and fewer than one in twenty victims of a bull attack survives.[10] 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.[11][12][13] 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.[14] Being trampled, jammed against a wall or gored by a bull was one of the most frequent causes of death in the dairy industry prior to 1940.[15] As suggested in one popular farming magazine, "Handle [the bull] with a staff and take no chances. The gentle bull, not the vicious one, most often kills or maims his keeper".[16]

Handling

[[File:|thumb|left|A bull with a nose ring, tethered to a picket]] It is traditional in many areas to place rings in bull's noses to help control them. 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 metre (3 ft) long with a clip at one end, which allows the bull both to be led and to be held away from its 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 restricts the bull's vision to the ground immediately in front of him, so he cannot see his potential victim. Another 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 to a solid object such as a ring concreted 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 to 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

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.[17][18] However, the problems associated with handling a bull (particularly where cows must be removed from its presence to be worked) has prompted many dairy farmers to restrict themselves to artificial insemination (AI) of the cows.[19] AI is also used to increase 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.

Uses

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.[20][21] 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.

Significance in human culture

bull on a cave painting in Lascaux, France.]]

The bull has 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 this animal is reflected in its appearance in the zodiac as Taurus, and its frequent appearances in mythology, where it is often associated with fertility.

Symbolically, the bull appears commonly in heraldry, and, in modern times, as a mascot for both amateur and professional sports teams.

See also

References

  1. ^ Delbridge, A, et al., Macquarie Dictionary, The Book Printer, Australia, 1991
  2. ^ Sheena Coupe (ed.), Frontier Country, Vol. 1 (Weldon Russell Publishing, Willoughby, 1989), ISBN 1 875202 01 3
  3. ^ Sure Ways to Lose Money on Your Cattle
  4. ^ C. J. C. Phillips, Principles of Cattle Production (2010), p. 50.
  5. ^ Example of large steer
  6. ^ G Jayawardhana (2006), Testicle Size - A Fertility Indicator in Bulls, Australian Government Agnote K44.
  7. ^ A P Carter, P D P Wood and Penelope A Wright (1980), Association between scrotal circumference, live weight and sperm output in cattle, Journal of Reproductive Fertility, 59, pp 447–451.
  8. ^ "Longhorn_Information – handling". ITLA. http://www.itla.net/index.cfm?sec=Longhorn_Information&con=handling. Retrieved 2010-03-28. 
  9. ^ a b Castration of Calves Factsheet, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, June 2007.
  10. ^ Canadian Farming Administration, Handling Livestock Successfully, 2000.
  11. ^ Larry D. Jacobson, Extension Agricultural Engineer, Safe Work Practices on Dairy Farms, University of Minnesota Extension Services (1989)("During the last 10 years, 12 farmers in Minnesota were mauled and gored to death by dairy bulls").
  12. ^ Cumberland County (Pa.) Sentinel, Shippensburg, Pa., February 12, 2008 A farmer in Southampton County, Michigan, was killed by a 2000 pound Holstein bull in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in February, 2008, prompting comments from experts ranging from "never trust a bull" to "always take a dog with you" when handling a bull.
  13. ^ The Reading [Pennsylvania]Eagle, March 1, 2010 On February 28, 2010, a farmer near Reading, Pennsylvania was trampled and gored to death by a 2000 lb. black Angus bull that he had been urged to get rid of by friends after earlier mishaps. Michelle Park, "Bull attacks, kills owner at South Heidelberg Township farm".
  14. ^ Alvin H. Clement, We Gotta Have More Jails, The Writer's Club Press, New York (1984-87), at pp. 79-80. A humorous description of moving a cow to a neighbor's Jersey bull for breeding purposes, and the use of a 12-foot bull staff to get the loose-running bull under control after he had already spotted the cow
  15. ^ O.C. Gregg, Ed., Minnesota Farmer's Institute Annual No. 15, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. (1902), at p. 125; The James Way, The James Manufacturing Co., Ft. Atkinson, Wisc. (1914), p. 103.
  16. ^ Helpful Information for Dairymen, The Farmer, Webb Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, Mar. 12, 1927, p. 6
  17. ^ U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Yearbook 1922, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. (1922), pp. 325-28 (noting a national on-farm bull population of over 600,000 "scrub" bulls in addition to a multi-year supply of "pure bred" bulls)
  18. ^ O.C. Gregg, Ed., Minnesota Farmer's Institute Annual No. 15, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. (1902), pp.129-32 (recommending the keeping and testing of sires for dairy herd improvement).
  19. ^ C. J. C. Phillips, Principles of Cattle Production (2010), p. 121.
  20. ^ John C Barret (1991), "The Economic Role of Cattle in Communal Farming Systems in Zimbabwe", to be published in Zimbabwe Veterinary Journal, p 10.
  21. ^ Draught Animal Power, an Overview, Agricultural Engineering Branch, Agricultural Support Systems Division, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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See also Bull.

Contents

English

Pronunciation

Etymology 1

Middle English bul, from Late Old English bula (only used in place names), from Old Norse boli. Cognate with German Bulle, Dutch bul.

Noun

Singular
bull

Plural
bulls

bull (plural bulls)

  1. The adult male of certain large mammals, such as whales, elephants and seals.
  2. In particular, the uncastrated adult male of domesticated cattle or oxen.
  3. A large, strong man.
  4. (finance) An investor who buys (commodities or securities) in anticipation of a rise in prices.
  5. (slang) A policeman.
  6. (slang, Philadelphia) A male person.
Synonyms
Antonyms
  • (finance: investor who buys in anticipation of a rise in prices): bear
Translations
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Adjective

bull (not comparable)

Positive
bull

Comparative
not comparable

Superlative
none (absolute)

  1. Large and strong, like a bull.
  2. Of large mammals, male.
    a bull elephant
  3. (finance) Of a market in which prices are rising (compare bear)
Synonyms
Antonyms
Translations

Verb

Infinitive
to bull

Third person singular
bulls

Simple past
bulled

Past participle
bulled

Present participle
bulling

to bull (third-person singular simple present bulls, present participle bulling, simple past and past participle bulled)

  1. (intransitive) To force oneself (in a particular direction).
    He bulled his way in.
  2. (intransitive) To lie, to tell untruths.
  3. (British military) To polish boots to a high shine.
Translations

Derived terms

Etymology 2

From Middle English bulle < Old French bulle < Low Latin bulla

Noun

Singular
bull

Plural
bulls

bull (plural bulls)

  1. (also papal bull) An official document or edict from the Pope.
  2. A seal affixed to a document, especially a document from the Pope.
Translations

Verb

Infinitive
to bull

Third person singular
bulls

Simple past
bulled

Past participle
bulled

Present participle
bulling

to bull (third-person singular simple present bulls, present participle bulling, simple past and past participle bulled)

  1. (dated, 17th century) to publish in a Papal bull

Etymology 3

From Middle English bull (falsehood), of unknown origin. Possibly related to Old French boul, boule, fraud, deceit, trickery . Popularly associated with bullshit.

Noun

Singular
bull

Plural
uncountable

bull (uncountable)

  1. A lie.
  2. (euphemism, informal) Nonsense.
Synonyms
Translations

Verb

Infinitive
to bull

Third person singular
bulls

Simple past
bulled

Past participle
bulled

Present participle
bulling

to bull (third-person singular simple present bulls, present participle bulling, simple past and past participle bulled)

  1. to mock, cheat

Etymology 4

From Old French boule (ball) < Latin bulla (round swelling) < Proto-Indo-European *bhel (to blow, to swell).

Noun

Singular
bull

Plural
bulls

bull (plural bulls)

  1. (16th century, obsolete) a bubble

Catalan

Noun

bull m. (plural bulls)

  1. the agitation of a liquid which is boiling
  2. effervescence
  3. a type of pork sausage

Related terms


French

Pronunciation

Etymology

From bulldozer.

Noun

bull m. (plural bulls)

  1. (construction) bulldozer

Synonyms


Icelandic

Noun

bull n.

  1. nonsense, gibberish

Synonyms

  • rugl
  • þvæla







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