Cattle Artificial Insemination
Cattle Artificial Insemination isn't as widely used as one would think given it's many benefits. Some would often cite the old saying "You've got to spend money to make money". The end result of AI with cattle would prove this to be true and below are a list of reasons why it is beneficial to give AI a try with your herd.
1) Genetic improvement - It can be cheaper to access a superior sire via his semen (e.g. $15-$35/straw) versus natural service with a bull, which can be upwards of $5,000/bull.
2) Increased calf crop uniformity - More calves can be born at the same time, and also sired by closely related bulls.
3) Increased herd productivity - This includes improvements in herd quality with those retained replacement heifers.
4) Increased reproductive performance - Earlier calving cows have a longer period of time to rebreed, and proven low birthweight AI sires can reduce calving difficulty.
5) Reduced bull costs - The costs to purchase and maintain bulls should be lower, since fewer are needed for cows previously inseminated.
6) Multiple different breeds are available by semen services, giving you a variety of choices for sires.
7) Can prevent injuries to heifers/cows that can occur from natural breeding and large bulls.
Being honest, there are some disadvantages to AI including precise management and the need for a skilled AI technician. The costs associated with AI include synchronization drugs, semen and the technician costs. Typical pregnancy rates of AI are 40-60 percent (ours are currently 65%+), however all factors have to be managed closely to get those rates. In terms of breeding cost per pregnancy, costs can vary substantially among both options. One study indicated natural service costs range from $15-$82 per pregnancy, depending on bull purchase price and bull-to-cow rations. AI costs are calculated to be between $39-$52 per pregnancy, however that doesn't account for any additional revenues received from replacement heifer or calf crops.
Synchronization and AI can be a valuable tool for beef producers; however it hasn't been widely used due to the challenges associated with it's proper implementation. Natural service can be a lower cost option than AI protocols, however when improvements in average calf age and weight are incorporated, synchronization/AI can yield a higher return on investment than natural service, which makes AI well worth consideration.
As we've performed AI services on our own small cattle herd, we realized the difficulty in finding someone qualified and available to inseminate our animals. We are now available to schedule insemination for your small herd. This is a great way to improve genetics in your herd without the cost of a new bull. Please do not hesitate to call me with any questions or interest you may have. My cell is 706-905-7859--I would love to help you incorporate better genetics into your herd!