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 to benefit from the genetic advantage of certain bulls, a fixed-term artificial insemination plan may be the best option, experts from Kansas State University’s Beef Cattle Institute said in a recent Cattle Chat podcast.
Alongside vets Bob Larson, Brian Lubbers and Brad White was cattle extension specialist Sandy Johnson. Johnson is on the Bovine Breeding Task Force and has done a lot of research in this area. To learn more about the protocols she refers to, go to beefrepro.org.
“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,” said Johnson said.
She said that if the cattle are in good physical condition and have resumed the cycle before synchronization, the success rate of a fixed-time AI protocol is essentially the same as that of natural mating with a bull.
Larson added that in studies done at K-State and other universities, 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 time. heat cycle – and it’s the same 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.
Lubbers said part of that success depends on the training of the person doing 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. “said Lubbers.
Larson said that in some large operations, producers hire an AI company to come in and breed by appointment.
“As protocols have improved over the years, we’ve gone from producers doing AI breeding to hiring professionals,” Larson said.
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,” Johnson said. White added that this manipulation will take place over a period of 10 days.
Another benefit, according to White, 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,” White said.
To hear the full discussion on this topic as well as how protocols may need to differ in cows and heifers, access the Cattle Chat podcast online.