Overcoming Bull Breeding Challenges: Guide for Cattle Producers

Overcoming Bull Breeding Challenges: Guide for Cattle Producers

Medically Reviewed By: Hannah Varnell, D.V.M.

Bull breeding is at the heart of successful cattle farming, and we cannot overstate the importance of healthy, fertile bulls. As a livestock veterinarian, your goal is to assist cattle producers in overcoming the various challenges that can arise during bull breeding. This comprehensive guide will delve deep into the intricacies of bull breeding, highlighting the potential challenges and providing valuable insights to ensure a thriving herd.

Bull Breeding Basics

Bulls play an indispensable role in cattle breeding due to their unique genetic contribution, influence on herd quality, and substantial economic impact.

Genetic Contributions

Bulls are the primary source of genetic diversity and improvement in a cattle herd. Their genetic makeup, particularly their DNA and combination of genes, is a fundamental determinant of the traits and characteristics they will pass on to their offspring. Here’s why their genetic contribution is pivotal:

  • Genetic Variation: Bulls introduce genetic diversity into the herd. This diversity is essential for preventing inbreeding and maintaining the overall health and vigor of the herd. Inbreeding can lead to the expression of recessive genetic disorders and reduced fertility.
  • Trait Selection: Cattle producers select bulls based on specific traits they want to enhance in their herd, such as meat quality, milk production, disease resistance, and adaptability to local environmental conditions. Producers choose bulls with desirable traits to sire the next generation.
  • Beef-on-Dairy Breeding: Over the past decade, the incidence of beef bulls siring dairy cows has more than doubled. Dairy producers often optimize their replacement heifer traits with high-quality sexed dairy semen and then breed the rest of their herd with high-quality beef semen to produce calves primed for beef production. This recent study compared specific beef and dairy breed combinations and their productivity outcomes.
  • Improvement of Herd Genetics: Bulls can gradually improve the entire herd’s genetics through selective breeding. Over time, this process can lead to herds that are more productive, resilient and well-suited to their intended purpose, whether beef or dairy production.
  • Uniformity: Selective breeding with quality bulls can lead to a more uniform herd, often preferred in commercial livestock operations. Uniformity can make management and marketing easier.

By carefully selecting and managing bulls with desirable traits, producers can increase their meat or milk production output, improve marketability to consumers and cattle buyers, and reduce overall production costs.

Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology of Bulls

The reproductive system of bulls is a complex and vital component of successful cattle breeding. Understanding the intricacies of this system, including testicular health, semen production, and mating behavior, is essential for cattle producers.

Testicular Health: The Foundation of Fertility

The testicles, or testes, are bulls’ primary male reproductive organs. They serve two crucial functions: the production of hormones, mainly testosterone, and the production of sperm.

Testosterone is a hormone that influences male secondary sexual characteristics and behaviors. In bulls, it plays a role in maintaining libido, muscle development, and overall vitality. Anomalies in testosterone production can result from testicular diseases or injuries, leading to reduced mating behavior and fertility.

The most critical function of the testes is sperm production. Spermatogenesis is a complex process within the seminiferous tubules of the testes. Sperm production is susceptible to environmental factors such as heat stress, which can negatively impact sperm quality and quantity.

The semen produced by bulls contains spermatozoa, seminal plasma, and various nutrients. It is essential for successful mating and fertilization. Semen quality and quantity are critical factors that influence reproductive outcomes.

High-quality bull semen should possess the following characteristics:

  • High Sperm Count: The semen should contain a sufficient number of spermatozoa per milliliter to increase the chances of fertilization.
  • Sperm Motility: Sperm should exhibit vigorous forward movement to reach and penetrate the female’s reproductive tract effectively.
  • Sperm Morphology: Most sperm should possess normal, healthy morphology, as abnormalities can impede fertilization.
  • Seminal Plasma: The seminal plasma provides nourishment and protection for sperm during their journey to the female’s ova.

Cattle Mating Behaviors

Cattle mating is a complex and highly orchestrated process involving various physiological and behavioral changes. Understanding and observing these behaviors in your bulls are essential for successful breeding:

  • Libido: Bulls with a robust sexual drive are more likely to engage in mating behavior and sire offspring. Factors such as hormonal balance, health, and age can influence libido.
  • Courtship: Bulls use courtship rituals, such as bellowing or mounting attempts, to attract and mate with receptive females.
  • Mounting: Mounting behavior is a clear sign of a bull’s readiness to mate. Bulls mount females to initiate copulation. It’s essential to ensure that mounting attempts are successful and result in insemination.

The Role of Veterinary Care in Bull Mating

Given the pivotal role of testicular health, semen production, and mating behavior in bull reproductive success, a thorough veterinary examination can identify potential problems early, allowing for timely intervention. When detected promptly, we can treat testicular diseases, injuries, and infections more effectively. Livestock veterinarians can also assess a bull’s fertility through semen analysis, which involves evaluating sperm quality and quantity. Regular veterinary check-ups can help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among bulls and between bulls and cows and can help you optimize your bulls’ diet and environmental factors to optimize reproductive performance.

Regular veterinary examinations are critical to maintaining reproductive health and ensuring the continued fertility of bulls in a cattle herd.

Health Challenges and Bulls Breeding Management

Reproductive Health Challenges in Bulls

Bulls, as the primary sires in a cattle breeding operation, are vulnerable to various reproductive health issues that can significantly impact their fertility and overall breeding success. These issues can range from infections and injuries to abnormalities in their reproductive organs. Recognizing, addressing, and preventing these problems is crucial for cattle producers aiming to maintain a robust breeding program.

Infections: Infections in the reproductive system can lead to reduced fertility and, in severe cases, infertility in bulls. Common reproductive diseases include Brucellosis, Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD), Trichomoniasis, and Vibriosis. Recognizing these infections is vital. Symptoms may include genital discharge, reduced libido, and an increased incidence of non-pregnant cows. Early detection and prompt treatment of infections are key. Isolating infected bulls from the herd, conducting appropriate diagnostic tests, and administering antibiotics or other veterinary-prescribed treatments are essential. In cases of sexually transmitted diseases like Trichomoniasis, culling infected bulls may be necessary to prevent further spread.

Injuries: Bulls can sustain injuries, particularly during aggressive behavior or mounting attempts. These injuries can affect their ability to mate successfully, leading to long-term reproductive issues. Cattle producers should regularly observe bulls for signs of damage, such as lameness, swelling, or open wounds in the genital area. Injured bulls should be isolated and provided with appropriate veterinary care, including wound cleaning, pain management, and rest.

Reproductive Abnormalities: Reproductive abnormalities, such as undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) or testicular degeneration, can hinder a bull’s fertility. Cryptorchid bulls, for example, are infertile because their testicles are retained in the abdomen, preventing them from producing viable sperm. Identifying such abnormalities requires a thorough veterinary examination, and in most cases, the bull will need to undergo surgery to remove the retained testicle.

The Crucial Role of Proper Nutrition in Bull Health and Fertility

Proper nutrition is paramount in maintaining the health and fertility of bulls in a cattle breeding operation. Bulls serve as the genetic foundation of the herd, and their reproductive performance depends on their overall health. A balanced diet that meets their nutritional requirements is essential for preventing deficiencies and promoting optimal reproductive performance. Here’s an exploration of the significance of nutrition and guidance in formulating such a diet:

Body Condition Maintenance

  • Bulls should maintain an appropriate body condition score (BCS) to support reproductive health. An ideal BCS is typically around 5 to 6 on a scale of 1 to 9, where one is emaciated and nine is obese.
  • Inadequate nutrition leading to low BCS can result in reduced libido and poor sperm quality, affecting a bull’s ability to mate successfully.

Protein and Energy Requirements

  • Protein is crucial for muscle development and overall vitality. Bulls require higher protein levels compared to mature cows.
  • Adequate energy intake ensures bulls have the stamina required for courtship and mating behaviors during the breeding season.

Vitamins and Minerals

  • Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in reproductive health. For example, vitamin A is essential for sperm production, while zinc is necessary for sperm quality.
  • Minerals like calcium and phosphorus are critical for bone development and muscle function.
  • Vitamin E and selenium may help protect sperm cells from oxidative damage. Oxidative stress can impair sperm motility and fertility.

Optimizing Bull Digestion

  • To meet fiber requirements, provide high-quality forage, such as grass or legume hay. Roughage helps maintain gut health and supports proper digestion.
  • Ensure access to clean, fresh water at all times, as water intake is crucial for digestion and overall health.

Concentrated Supplements

  • Supplement forage with concentrates like grains or commercial feeds formulated for bulls.
  • Consult a veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount and composition of concentrates based on the bull’s age, weight, and activity level.

Seasonal Adjustments

  • Be aware that nutritional needs may vary with the season, especially in areas with extreme weather conditions.
  • Adjust the diet for increased energy requirements during the cold season or mitigate heat stress in hot climates.

A well-balanced diet, tailored to meet the specific needs of bulls, ensures they maintain an appropriate body condition and mating energy and receive essential vitamins and minerals for reproductive success.

Disease Management and Prevention For Breeding Bulls

Bulls, as integral components of cattle breeding, are susceptible to various diseases that can profoundly impact their well-being and the entire herd’s reproductive success and profitability. Three notable diseases affecting bulls are Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD), Vibriosis, Trichomoniasis, and Brucellosis. Understanding these diseases and implementing vaccination, testing, and biosecurity measures are critical for safeguarding bull health and maintaining a thriving cattle breeding program.

Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) is a viral disease caused by the Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus. It can affect bulls by weakening their immune system, leading to increased susceptibility to other infections and reduced fertility. Vaccination is an essential strategy we use to prevent BVD. Administering BVD vaccines can significantly reduce disease risk and its impact on bull health. Furthermore, strict biosecurity measures are crucial. Implement protocols to avoid introducing BVD to your herd, especially when introducing new bulls. Isolate and test incoming bulls before they join the existing herd to ensure they are disease-free.

Vibriosis, caused by Campylobacter foetus subspecies venerealis or subspecies foetus, is also called Bovine Genital Campylobacteriosis. Vibrio is a venereal disease characterized by infertility in heifers and cows, early embryonic death, and occasional abortion. The infected bull is usually asymptomatic, and breeding problems are recognized through decreased conception rates, especially in replacement heifers. Although immunity builds up in the herd after a breeding season, the calf and productivity losses are best avoided by testing bulls prior to breeding season. Vaccination is also encouraged for all animals of breeding age prior to introduction of the bull if there is any established risk of infection.

Trichomoniasis, caused by the protozoan Tritrichomonas foetus, is a sexually transmitted disease that affects bull reproductive organs, leading to reduced fertility and, in some cases, infertility. To combat Trichomoniasis, regular testing of bulls, especially before breeding season, is imperative. In cases of infection, culling infected bulls is often necessary to prevent the disease from spreading further. Additionally, rigorous biosecurity measures are key. Farmers and producers should implement strict protocols to prevent the introduction of Trichomoniasis into their herd, including quarantining and testing all incoming bulls to ensure they are disease-free.

Brucellosis (Bang’s), caused by the bacterium Brucella abortus, is a contagious disease that primarily affects cattle’s reproductive organs, potentially leading to reduced fertility. Vaccination against Brucellosis is recommended, especially in regions where the disease is prevalent. Vaccination and regular testing can significantly reduce the risk of infection among cattle.

Read our Guide to Cattle Vaccines and Cattle Vaccination Schedule for a complete list of cattle vaccines and common diseases.

The Importance of Biosecurity

Biosecurity measures are pivotal in preventing the introduction and spread of these diseases within your herd. Isolate new bulls for a quarantine period, and conduct comprehensive health screenings and tests before introducing them to your herd. Strict hygiene protocols, including disinfection of equipment and facilities, also help minimize disease transmission. Educating farm personnel about the importance of biosecurity and ensuring their adherence to these measures is essential.

Regular vaccination, testing, and stringent biosecurity measures are essential to disease prevention. Collaborating with a veterinarian specializing in cattle health can help create a comprehensive disease management plan tailored to your specific herd and region, ultimately safeguarding your bulls’ health and reproductive capacity and the overall prosperity of your cattle operation.

Behavioral and Social Challenges When Bulls Breed

Safely Managing Bull Behavior

The breeding season often brings various behavioral challenges in bulls, including aggressiveness, mounting, and herding behavior. While natural, these behaviors can pose safety risks to the animals and the handlers. Managing these behaviors is essential for a successful and injury-free breeding season. Here, we’ll explore these typical challenges and offer advice on handling them effectively and safely.


Bulls can become aggressive during the breeding season, especially when they perceive a threat to their mating opportunities. This aggression can manifest as charging, head-butting, or aggressive posturing towards other bulls or humans. Maintain safe distances when working with aggressive bulls. Use sturdy handling facilities or fences to separate yourself from the bull while performing necessary tasks. Ensure bulls have sufficient space to move around without feeling overcrowded, which can reduce aggression. Adequate space minimizes competition and territorial disputes.


Mounting behavior is a standard mating behavior in bulls. They may mount other bulls, cows, or even inanimate objects during the breeding season. Be cautious when working near bulls displaying mounting behavior, as they may be less predictable. Keep a safe distance and avoid sudden movements. If mounting behavior becomes disruptive or potentially dangerous, consider separating bulls or providing distractions, such as introducing more cows into the breeding area to redirect their attention.

Herding Behavior

Bulls often exhibit herding behavior by grouping cows during the breeding season. This behavior can lead to overcrowding and stress in the herd. Provide enough space for cows to move freely and avoid overcrowding to reduce stress and minimize the risk of injury. Divide the cows into multiple breeding groups to help distribute the herding behavior and reduce bull competition.

Protecting Handlers

When working with bulls during the breeding season, wear appropriate safety gear, including a well-fitted helmet, sturdy boots, and gloves. Always have escape routes planned when working with bulls. Familiarize yourself with the layout of handling facilities and ensure they have secure exit options.

Social Dynamics in Bull Herds

Bull groups play a critical role in cattle breeding, as they are responsible for mating with the female cows during the breeding season. However, the dynamics within these groups can significantly impact breeding success. To ensure productivity and prevent injuries and stress, cattle producers must understand these dynamics and implement strategies to maintain harmony within the herd.

Bull groups typically consist of multiple bulls, each vying to mate with receptive cows. Bulls often establish a hierarchy based on age, size, and temperament. Dominant bulls have preferential access to females and resources, while subordinate bulls must navigate lower-ranking positions. Dominant bulls actively seek out receptive cows and attempt to monopolize mating opportunities, while subordinate bulls may resort to sneak mating or engage in less conspicuous mating behavior. Competition for dominance and mating rights can lead to aggressive behavior, such as fighting, head-butting, and charging. This aggression can result in injuries and stress among your bulls.

Strategies for Maintaining Harmony In Your Cattle Herd

  • Provide Adequate Space: Ensure ample space in the breeding area to minimize crowding and reduce the likelihood of aggressive encounters. Overcrowding can lead to stress and injuries.
  • Divide Bulls into Groups: Group bulls by age, size, and temperament to reduce competition and aggression. Subordinate bulls can be placed in separate areas to avoid confrontations with dominant individuals.
  • Rotate Bulls: Implement a rotational breeding system by introducing different groups of bulls to the cow herd at varying times to prevent one dominant bull from monopolizing all mating opportunities.
  • Monitor Behavior: Regularly observe bull behavior to promptly detect signs of aggression or injuries. Intervene if necessary to prevent escalating conflicts.
  • Provide Quality Nutrition: Ensure bulls receive a balanced and nutritionally adequate diet. Well-fed bulls are generally more content and less likely to engage in aggressive behavior.
  • Select for Temperament: When acquiring new bulls, consider selecting for calm and docile temperaments. Bulls with aggressive tendencies can disrupt herd harmony.
  • Quarantine New Bulls: Isolate and quarantine new bulls for a period to monitor their health and behavior before introducing them to existing groups.
  • Implement Biosecurity Measures: Enforce biosecurity protocols to prevent the spread of diseases within bull groups.

Harmonious bull groups contribute to breeding success by reducing stress levels, minimizing injuries, and ensuring that all bulls have a fair opportunity to mate. By managing these dynamics effectively, cattle producers can optimize reproductive outcomes, improve overall herd health, and enhance the well-being of their valuable breeding bulls.

Reproductive Challenges and Techniques

Bull Fertility and Semen Quality

Bull fertility is a pivotal factor in cattle breeding, and several factors can influence it. These factors include age, genetics, and environmental conditions. Understanding how these elements interplay is essential for maintaining and enhancing bull fertility. Regular semen analysis and fertility testing are crucial for effectively monitoring and managing bull fertility.

Age plays a significant role in bull fertility. Young bulls are often less fertile than mature ones. It takes time for their reproductive organs to develop fully and for them to achieve peak fertility. Typically, bulls reach their prime fertility between 3 and 5 years of age. Older bulls, however, may experience a decline in fertility as they age.

Genetics is another critical factor influencing bull fertility. The genetic makeup of a bull determines its ability to produce high-quality semen and transmit desirable traits to offspring. Cattle producers selectively breed bulls based on specific genetic markers for traits like meat quality, milk production, and disease resistance. Selecting bulls with superior genetics is fundamental for improving overall herd fertility and productivity. Beef bulls have genetic standards called Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) that help determine the quality of their offspring. Quality animals will readily have these traits reported, or, work with your local extension agent to find bull testing stations near you that can measure your bull’s EPDs.

Environmental Conditions: Adequate nutrition is vital for bull fertility. Nutritional deficiencies or imbalances can lead to poor semen quality and reduced fertility. Extreme heat or cold can stress bulls and affect their sperm production and quality. Overcrowding or stressful housing conditions can lead to increased aggression among bulls, which may result in injuries and reduced fertility.

Artificial Insemination Vs. Natural Breeding

Advantages of Artificial Insemination

  1. Genetic Improvement: Artificial insemination allows cattle producers to access and utilize genetic material from superior sires worldwide, enabling rapid genetic improvement within the herd. Farmers can select desirable traits such as increased milk production, better meat quality, or disease resistance.
  2. Reduced Disease Risk: It also minimizes the risk of transmitting sexually transmitted diseases between bulls and cows, which can occur during natural mating. It also prevents injuries that may result from aggressive bull behavior during breeding.
  3. Control and Accuracy: Artificial insemination provides precise control over the timing of insemination, increasing the chances of conception. It allows for strategically managing breeding schedules, optimizing calving patterns, and herd uniformity.

Disadvantages of Artificial Insemination

  1. Expertise and Equipment: Successful artificial insemination in cattle requires specialized knowledge and equipment, including semen handling and insemination techniques. Training and equipment costs can be significant for inexperienced breeders.
  2. Labor-Intensive: Artificial insemination can be labor-intensive, especially for larger herds. It requires proper synchronization of estrus cycles, timely insemination, and accurate record-keeping.

Advantages of Natural Breeding in Cattle

  1. Simplicity: Natural breeding is straightforward and requires minimal equipment and expertise. It is well-suited for smaller operations or situations where artificial insemination resources are limited.
  2. Behavioral Cues: Bulls can detect estrus and mate with receptive cows effectively. They exhibit mating behaviors, such as sniffing and mounting, which can help identify cows in heat and achieve maximal conception rates.

Disadvantages of Natural Breeding

  1. Limited Genetic Pool: Natural breeding limits access to the genetic potential of superior sires, which can slow down genetic progress within the herd.
  2. Disease Risk: Bulls can transmit sexually transmitted diseases within the herd, potentially leading to health issues and reduced fertility.

In summary, artificial insemination is suitable when genetic improvement is a top priority. AI is also advantageous when disease control is a concern or when precise timing of insemination is necessary for synchronized calving. By contrast, natural breeding is more suitable when resources are limited, and the focus is on maintaining a small herd. Natural breeding is practical when farmers can observe behavioral cues to detect estrus and manage disease risk. A recent observational study showed no differences between the two methods regarding downstream impacts on offspring fecundity and production.

Bull Breeding Season Management

Managing breeding seasons in bulls is crucial for successful and efficient cattle reproduction. Here are some key considerations and strategies for effectively managing bull breeding seasons:

Breeding Soundness Examination (BSE)

Before the breeding season begins, conducting a thorough breeding soundness examination on each bull is essential. A BSE, performed by a veterinarian, assesses the bull’s overall health, physical condition, and reproductive capacity. This examination includes evaluating testicular size, semen quality, and general fitness. Bulls that don’t pass the BSE should be excluded from the upcoming breeding to prevent fertility issues. Your veterinarian can help you determine when your yearling bulls should undergo their first BSE based on their age and breed information. One recent study found that roughly half of the yearling bulls deemed not satisfactory potential breeders in their first BSE passed in subsequent BSEs.

Bull-to-Cow Ratio

Determining the appropriate bull-to-cow ratio is essential. The ideal ratio depends on factors like bull fertility, age, breed, and the cows’ reproductive status and cycle synchronization. Generally, a ratio of one mature bull to 20-30 cows is a standard guideline. However, individual circumstances may require adjustments.

Synchronization and Estrus Detection

To optimize breeding success, consider synchronizing estrus cycles in the cow herd through hormonal treatments or natural methods like heat detection. By having cows in estrus at the same time, you increase the chances of successful mating. Additionally, train farm personnel to identify signs of estrus, such as increased activity, tail flagging, and mounting behavior, for accurate timing of breeding.

Breeding Season Length

Determine the length of your breeding season based on herd goals and management practices. Shorter, more concentrated breeding seasons are often preferred, resulting in more uniform calf crops. However, aligning the breeding season with the cows’ natural reproductive patterns and your resources for estrus synchronization is crucial.

Health and Nutrition

Maintain the health and nutrition of breeding bulls throughout the season. Ensure they receive a balanced diet to support their energy and nutrient requirements. Regular health checks, vaccination, and parasite control are essential to keep bulls in optimal breeding conditions.

Record Keeping

Maintain detailed records of breeding activities, including dates, bull-cow pairings, and any reproductive issues. This information is valuable for tracking breeding performance, identifying fertility problems, and planning future breeding seasons.

Rotate Bulls

If you have multiple bulls, consider rotating them in and out of the breeding season. This approach prevents the overuse of individual bulls and helps maintain their fertility over the long term.

By meticulously managing breeding seasons in bulls and incorporating these strategies, cattle producers can enhance reproductive success, improve calf crop uniformity, and ultimately maximize the productivity and profitability of their cattle operations. Regular monitoring, health care, and record-keeping are fundamental to successful breeding season management.

Heat Stress and Bull Fertility Challenges in Hot Climates

Heat stress poses significant challenges to bull fertility, especially in hot and humid climates. Heat stress can decrease sperm quality, resulting in lower sperm motility or abnormal sperm morphology. High temperatures can disrupt hormonal regulation in bulls, affecting their libido and overall reproductive function. Bulls may also exhibit reduced sexual interest and mounting behavior during extreme heat, leading to lower breeding success.

Tips for Mitigating Heat Stress in Cattle

  • Provide shade in natural tree cover, shelters, or shade structures.
  • Ensure proper ventilation in barns and facilities to reduce heat buildup.
  • Provide clean, fresh water at all times. Dehydration can worsen the effects of heat stress.
  • Maintain a balanced diet that meets the nutritional requirements of bulls. Adjust feeding times to cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, to minimize heat exposure.
  • Implement cooling methods such as fans, misters, or even water sprinklers to help your bulls dissipate heat. These methods can be particularly effective in barns or holding areas.
  • Adjust breeding schedules to avoid the hottest times of the day. Breeding in the cooler morning or evening hours can improve bull performance.
  • Conduct regular health checks on bulls to identify and address heat stress-related health issues promptly.
  • Take precautions when transporting bulls in hot weather, ensuring proper ventilation and hydration during transit.

By implementing these strategies, cattle producers in hot climates can reduce the negative impact of heat stress on bull fertility and maintain a higher level of breeding success, ultimately contributing to the overall productivity of the herd.

Data Analysis and Genetic Selection

Data analysis tools are pivotal in identifying superior sires and enhancing herd genetics by mining and interpreting extensive data on cattle performance and genetic traits. These tools analyze genetic markers, historical breeding records, and performance data to identify bulls that pass on desirable characteristics, such as increased milk production, meat quality, or disease resistance, to their offspring.

Veterinarians play a crucial role in providing data-driven insights by collaborating with cattle producers to collect and analyze relevant data, conducting breeding soundness examinations to assess bull fertility, and offering expertise in herd health management. Their guidance ensures that data-driven decisions align with the specific breeding goals of the operation, ultimately leading to the selection of sires that contribute to improved herd genetics and enhanced overall productivity.

Book A Consultation For Your Cattle Today

Medical Reviewer Profile: Dr. Hannah Varnell is the founder and CEO of Wellfarm Veterinary Consultants, a large animal veterinary practice serving livestock production farms across Virginia. A former global health and agricultural development researcher, Dr. Varnell is a pioneer in practical approaches to herd health. She completed her veterinary degree at North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine and her residency in Production Management Medicine at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.