Over the coming weeks many farmers will be investing large sums of money as they look to purchase new stock bulls.

Prices over recent years confirm that even an "average" bull purchase is a significant investment.

Many will take considerable time in reviewing weight gains, pedigrees and health records as they make their decisions and choose the bull that fits the bill. Given the time and money invested it is worth knowing how you intend to protect your investment as soon as the hammer drops.

Unless you intend to self-insure the bull, speaking to your broker prior to attending the sale could be useful; various factors worth considering are:

n Price – In the past many farmers simply insured the bull on the day of the sale when paying for the bull, in most cases they will arrange cover with no exact knowledge as to the specific insurer, or whether the cost of the insurance is competitive but equally or more importantly, exactly what is and isn't covered.

Nowadays given most farmers will have their mobiles at the sale, it is an easy process to consider contacting your farm insurance provider or a specialist livestock insurer, who in most cases may be able to offer a saving and provide instant cover (due to all animals being vet certified before the sale) especially if there is no history of previous claims.

My advice is if you intend to buy a bull, a quick check on premiums can usually be indicated by your insurance broker. If you know roughly the value you are looking to spend you can attend the sale armed with full insurance information.

n Luckpenny Insurance – A few lucky buyers may still be offered 3-6 month insurance as luckpenny by the breeder, although this is becoming less common due to the increasing cost. If it is your intention to insure the bull longer than 3-6 months, it is more cost effective for the breeder and seller to come to agreement with the seller to put a contribution towards an annual policy, as a 12 month policy is usually cheaper than a 3 or 6 months policy.

n The cover – We would always recommend arranging cover which will include both mortality/humane destruction and loss of use. Many a farmer has opted to go down the cheaper option of covering for mortality, only to find problems later when the bull becomes unable to work or becomes infertile.

If the bull is not suffering but slaughter is required on economic grounds, this would not be covered under humane destruction. In my 20 years of insuring bulls this is the area where most problems arise if you have to claim. Where full cover is in force there is no problem.

n Look after your bull – Insuring your bull is a sensible protection, but even the most perfect insurance can't prevent the hassle caused to herd calving patterns due to a suddenly dead or infertile bull.

After insurance, nothing will protect you investment more than some TLC. Remember that impressive weight gain wasn't achieved by him roughing it on the hill!

He has been brought to the sale in his prime and he will probably have spent the good part of a week between being transported to sale till finally arriving at his new home. It would therefore make sense to give him some special attention for a few weeks when he arrives. Give him his own pen, well bedded.

One simple aspect may also be to check what feed he has been on and try and continue this for a few weeks. After a few weeks he can slowly start to get down to his "working weight". An increasing number of farmers now look to buy several months in advance of needing to use the bull to allow the bull to acclimatise.

Never underestimate the advantages of looking after your investment. In many cases the attention given to the bull in the first 6 months in his new home can make the difference of years of use you get out of him at the other end of his life.

If you're looking to buy over the coming weeks, whatever your breed I hope you get the one that catches your eye. If you're buying hopefully you get him at half the price you expected – but if you're selling hopefully he makes twice the price you expected. It never works both ways, and at the end of the day as the saying goes, no one ever regrets buying quality.