A Life's Work: The Jerk by Ross Martin


Amid the sprawling agricultural landscape of California Polytechnic State University, fifty-year-old Dr. Steve Wickler is teaching his students about animal anatomy, equine physiology and the diseases animals can give to humans. He's also about to show them how to excite a 2,000-pound bull and collect its ejaculate.

Ross Martin

So how do you make a bull come?

Manually, using artificial vaginas. You can train bulls to recognize you walking up with it. They'll get an erection and mount almost on command.

This artificial vagina, is it rubber?

There's one called the Missouri AV, which has a leather outlining with a plastic intersleeve. The Colorado AV is plastic. You fill the space between the waterproof lining and the outer shell or jacket with warm water. Just as you might imagine with humans, part of it is getting the temperature right, and part of it is getting the friction.

How do you get him in the mood?

That's a big issue. First you need to have the female in "estrus," the period in which she is reproductively receptive. The bull will put his muzzle on her hindquarters, come up and lick the vaginal area.

So then what, you fake him out?

When he starts to mount her, you interfere and grab the penis. Once they've kind of initiated the moaning and reflex, they'll jump up, you divert the penis into the artificial vagina, and they pump away.

Do you wear hockey pads to protect yourself?

We wear a collecting helmet. Having a 2,000-pound bull stomping around is scary. Their forelimbs are up on the female, they start dancing as they try to have intercourse. You've got to watch the penis and their feet or they'll step on you. I'll tell you, that'll ruin the moment.

Do they mind your being there?

No — it's really quite amazing — once they start. But they're conscious of having people around. It may be very difficult for them to get into the mood if they're not used to it.

Some airports in Europe blast Aretha Franklin on runways to scare away pigeons. I'd think you'd want the opposite effect, you know, maybe some Al Green?

Did I just hear that on the news the other day, that they were using Al Green — no, Barry White — for some shark reproduction? It doesn't surprise me.

How long does it take the bull to ejaculate?


Do you have to do some of the pumping or does he do all the work?

He does. You're mostly concerned with keeping the artificial vagina close to the penis.

And steady.

When it's 2,000 pounds thrusting, the concept of steady is relative.

Once he ejaculates, do you have to get every drop?

You don't have to be that comprehensive. It's a very forceful ejaculation. There's a collection tube at the end of the vagina so you can see the material going in.

How long is a bull penis, anyway?

Well, they make walking sticks out of the sigmoid flecture. So, you know, a meter?

Do you wear gloves?

Yeah, mostly to prevent you from contaminating it.

Bull semen is even sold online. How do you establish quality?

You actually quantify. There are automated optical methods for measuring motility. We determine what percentage of the population of semen are moving away or moving in a straight line. Some semen spin in circles and that's less likely to be effective sperm. You look at sperm morphology. Are they normal? Do they have a normal head, normal tail, normal mid-base piece? The total volume is ten cc's. And of those sperm, ninety percent are progressively motile.

The alternative to the artificial vagina is called "electro-stimulation"?

Yes, a rectal probe goes over the accessory sex glands but sits close to the nerve bed of the spine. If I provide some artificial electro-stimulation, I can produce the same ejaculation reflexes they get normally. You put in an electrical current; they get an erection, they get pre-semen, then they ejaculate. Generally, if you use an artificial vagina, you get a very clean sample, higher concentrations of sperm. Whereas with electro-ejaculation, you don't get nearly as pure a sample.

How do you make this fun for students?

With the difficulty of talking about sex, when you do it in a very clinical setting, the students are really enthralled. I point out that it's important for assessment of their reproductive soundness. Everything that is happening is physiologically explainable and it's anatomical and so they kind of see the whole process. It's really quite wonderful.

Have you learned anything about sex from your bulls?

I would say no, but I haven't taught them anything about it either.

Has your wife ever tried to collect? Not from you, but a bull, I mean.

I don't know, I've never asked her. She's very familiar with the technique, though.

What's a bull like after he orgasms?

Hard to tell any difference.

He doesn't get standoffish or want to take a nap?

He's not like, "Okay, well, now let's go eat."

I bet some bulls are turned on by their collectors.

I had a colleague who was collecting dairy bulls and didn't even have to have the artificial vagina. They would recognize his car. He'd drive up, and the bulls would be standing at the breeding stations, getting erections just from the sight of his Volvo.


Ross Martin's recent work appears in magazines such as Agni, Bomb, Boulevard, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Kenyon Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, Verse, Witness and others. He has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, The New School University and Washington University in St. Louis, where he received his MFA. His first book, 'The Cop Who Rides Alone,' is published by Zoo Press (


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Commentarium (17 Comments)

Apr 22 02 - 2:24pm


Apr 22 02 - 2:32pm

This was absolutely brilliant. I hope we will see more from Russ.

Apr 22 02 - 2:49pm

Funnily enough, the sight of someone's big, red Volva gives me an erection too!

Apr 22 02 - 4:40pm

Very interesting. I only wish it'd been longer, but he seems like a man of few words...then again, can you really intellectualize about masturbation in any mammal, human or bovine?

Apr 22 02 - 8:09pm

I love Russ Morgan!

Apr 24 02 - 6:41pm

I appreciated your piece on working with lifestock. My brother and his wife have a cattle ranch in NW Montana, south of Flathead Lake. It is an experience to work with bulls and deal with them and the cows. Keep up the good work.

Apr 24 02 - 9:45pm

very interesting. Fun, funny, entertaining, thought-provoking, educational and informative.
Yeah for Russ!!!!!

shane allison

Apr 24 02 - 11:37pm

now, if only guys could get the same pavlovian response from women by driving up in volvos instead of a porsche

May 16 02 - 10:28am

When I was a young girl, both parents worked alot. The only company i had was my dog...and so I would come home from school and watch my favorite TV programs. All of a sudden I would get these sensual urges from below. I would play with myself and explore with my fingers. On one occassion...i will never forget to this day, that i did something so daring...I had been playing with myself to the point of being hot, wet, and juicy. I felt eroctic...I wanted MORE! So i called over "Man's Best Friend" to my side. And I spread my legs apart for my dog to smell my wet pussy. I coaxed him to get closer and he began to inhale my scent, and slightly lick my clit. He seemed to look up at me shyly as if to say, is it ok? I encouraged my dog and gave him permission to continue. I talked to him softly, moaning as he began to lick me. At first, a few licks of his tongue. Then he started to lick my wet pussy more and more. He became excited as i did.. What a rush it was to see my dog lapping my cunt up so hungrily and passionately!!! I layed back in sheer delight as my dog licked me from my hole to my clit, clit to hole. I gently put my hand on his head, moaning, saying: good boyyyy.I moved my hips around ever so slowly. He began to plunge his long smooth tongue inside of me and at that point, i shuddered with ecstacy!! He licked me clean nicely and drew back, licking his own chops. Since that day, my dog and i were very close and i reached several orgasm's each time afterwards with my dog. I havent done it since then....but have fond memories just the same...I understand animals alot more. And appreciate them too.

Jun 05 07 - 3:09pm

Thank you for the artical about using the Missouri Artificial Vagina to collect from a Bull. I just purchased one and am perplexed as to how to get warm water into the liner. What type of valves or equipment is used? Also, is it necessary to use the "clear" plastic liner with the AV? Any tips for using this AV with Stallions will be appreciated.


Oct 01 10 - 8:07pm

Respect to the author of original work. I am want to say thanks for funny post, and thanks to google and yahoo for perfect blog search.

Oct 28 10 - 1:54pm
Raquel Gutierrez

Hahaha, He'd drive up, and the bulls would be standing at the breeding stations, getting erections just from the sight of his Volvo. Are you sure it wasn't that the bulls mistook Volvo for Vulva... LMFAO!

Oct 28 10 - 1:56pm
Raquel Gutierrez

Hahahaha... "He'd drive up, and the bulls would be standing at the breeding stations, getting erections just from the sight of his Volvo." I guess the bulls were all like Volvo Vulva what's the difference... LMFAO!

Nov 08 10 - 8:14am

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Feb 15 11 - 6:10pm
Serial Gretchen

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Mar 12 12 - 5:22pm
carol sevilla

WOW LOL that last part was truly funny! but received all the answers I needed thanks ;)