Premature spiral deviation of the penis was investigated in 1083 British breed beef bulls in 42 herds in Victoria (35) and Western Australia (7) by means of the serving capacity test. The herd prevalence was 60%. The prevalence of the defect at the initial test for all bulls was 10%. The prevalence in 635 polled bulls was 16% compared to a prevalence of 1 % in 448 horned bulls. The breed prevalence and the number of bulls tested per breed was Red Poll 27% (15), Murray Grey 25% (4), Poll Shorthorn 21 % (34), Angus 17% (415), Poll Hereford 10% (167) and Hereford 1 % (448). The difference between the last 2 breed types was highly significant (P<0.001). The prevalence of the defect increased from 0 to 30% over 9 years in one Victorian herd. The age of affected bulls varied from 2 to 11 years with most affected bulls aged from 3 to 6 years. Common ancestry was found between affected bulls in Western Australia, providing circumstantial evidence that it may be an inherited defect. None of the 103 affected bulls examined in this study had suffered obvious injury to the penis or prepuce. Eighty per cent of 56 affected bulls from Victoria had low serving capacity. Four bulls (2 from each state) with moderate to severe spiral deviation of the penis attained pregnancy rates of 43%, 33%, 3% and 3% respectively, in single sire mating trials. Recommendations for culling defective bulls are presented, based on the herd prevalence and severity of the defect in individual bulls.
It is concluded that bulls with moderate to severe spiral deviation of the penis have reduced fertility and remain permanently affected. The serving capacity test is a valuable diagnostic test for this serving defect in unhandled beef bulls. It is a common, although frequently undiagnosed disorder of polled beef breed bulls in Australia.