Raise livestock on a tight deadline

Late spring is the time of year when cattle are put out on grass pastures and cows are herded with bulls for breeding. However, for producers who want the genetic advantage of certain bulls, a fixed-time artificial insemination plan may be the best option, according to experts at Kansas State University’s Beef Cattle Institute.

On a recent Cattle Chat podcast, veterinarians Bob Larson, Brian Lubbers, and Brad White discussed the protocols behind fixed-time AI with beef extender Sandy Johnson. Johnson is on the Bovine Breeding Task Force and has done a lot of research in this area.

“The success of an AI breeding program starts a year in advance with how cattle are nutritionally managed and when they calved during the previous breeding season,” explains Johnson. If the cattle are in good physical condition and cycled before synchronization, the success rate of a fixed-time AI protocol is essentially the same as that of a natural mating with a bull.

In studies done at K-State and other universities, Larson indicates that typically 60-70% of cows that ovulate a fertile egg and are raised by a fertile bull or with fertile AI sperm will become pregnant each cycle. heat – and it’s the same thing. percentage for AI and natural breeding with a bull.

With a fixed-time AI protocol, cows are timed to enter estrus through the use of hormones that mimic natural hormones that control reproduction.

Part of this success depends on the training of the person performing the artificial insemination. “If you’re doing it yourself, make sure you’ve had some training and realize you’re not going to be as proficient at herding cows with AI as someone who does it every day. “says Lubbers.

On some large farms, producers hire an AI company to come in and breed by appointment. “As the protocols have improved over the years, we’ve gone from producers doing AI to hiring professionals,” Larson says.

With a trained technician, experts agree that good livestock handling facilities are important to the success of the protocol.

“With our best fixed-time AI systems, cattle make three trips through the chute, with the third being insemination,” says Johnson. White adds that this manipulation will take place over a period of 10 days.

Another benefit is the reduced stress of handling cattle in good working facilities. “Reducing stress by having good facilities to work in benefits both livestock and people,” says White.

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