by Texas Homesteader~
We utilize bovine artificial Insemination on our ranch when we want to mix up our herd pedigrees, blend breeds, or perhaps have a special cow deliver an extra-high-quality calf, etc. I’ve written before about various ways AI is very beneficial to the rancher, especially for smaller ranches where it’s often more difficult to buy & maintain a high-quality bull for just a few cows.
RancherMan is a certified A.I. technician. And we also have all our own AI equipment including medications, nitrogen tank, bull semen straws, etc. So we sometimes perform A.I. jobs for local ranches from time to time. We recently received an email asking for help with a local man’s heifers. After a few emails & phone calls the schedule was set to begin in a few weeks. We prefer to use a 10-day timed synchronization program & we wanted to follow the heifer protocol to offer the highest possibility for successful breeding.
We were able to obtain straws from a very nice registered Angus high calving ease bull. I think the ranch owner will be pleased.
Weather Turned Cold & Damp
Temperate weather is a huge factor in successful breeding and maintaining the pregnancy so we always hope for good weather. Of course when we scheduled this procedure several weeks ago it was a crap shoot. This time of year the temps are starting to moderate some – you don’t usually get those cold biting north winds & frozen precipitation that we’ve been dealing with the past few weeks, although rain is always a possibility.
We were excited to see when the start date was about 10-days out that the extended forecast showed we’d have sunshine and temps in the 70’s for this day. But by the time the day actually arrived the forecast changed to 70% chance of rain and high temps only in the upper 50’s.
So, we donned our mud boots and collected our AI supplies & drove the short distance to the property where the procedures will be performed. The temps this morning were only in the 40’s and light rain was falling as it had been doing for the past several days. Thank goodness for a 4-wheel drive truck!
The heifers were already penned as requested. So we approached the pen speaking softly to the girls to see how they would react. Thankfully they all remained relatively calm.
Having allowed the heifers to become accustomed to us we set to our work. We pulled out our AI bag which contained the synchronization drug we would be injecting today, the syringes, the CIDR inserts that will be inserted vaginally into each heifer to regulate their heat cycle, some towels, note pad & pen, etc.
One by one we walked each heifer into the ally the owner had fashioned and then into the chute. We placed a heavy steel rod behind the heifer when she arrived in the chute to keep her from being able to back up or kick. Then moving slowly and speaking softly so as not to alarm her Rancherman inserted the CIDR, gave her an intramuscular injection and released her back into the pasture. When all three had been treated we packed up our supplies to head home.
7 Days Later
After 7 days we returned to these heifers for their second round of treatment. We removed the CIDR’s that were inserted last week and gave them a IM injection of another drug to make them flush so their cycle can start over.
Three days later when the heifers are in heat we return to perform the actual AI. By this time the continuous rain keeps our truck out of the pasture. We need to park our truck at the road and carry our supplies & A.I. tank to the corral in the pasture.
The owner wants us to send these heifers through two actual AI sessions to improve their chances for successful breeding. We’ve already obtained the bull semen straws that the owner has requested. So it’s a matter of walking the heifers back into the chute, giving them their final IM injection and inserting the straw containing the bull semen.
This part of the procedure requires quite a bit of patience & skill, as the straws must actually be guided gently & placed into the cervix via a complex action of cervical manipulation & guidance. Positive pregnancy can be obtained without inserting the straw into the actual cervical opening, and sometimes you have to settle for that if the cow’s cervical tract is twisted or difficult to manipulate for whatever reason. But RancherMan took his time with each of the heifers and was able to actually hit his target perfectly all three times.
When we returned six hours later to perform the AI procedure again we repeated the process. Although one heifer’s tract was somewhat twisted at this point, using patience RancherMan was able to achieve success once again in reaching the target all three times.
As we released the heifers back into their pasture our fingers are crossed that they will all breed successfully. We can come back after 28 days to draw blood to send to the lab to confirm pregnancy. The anticipation is exciting!
Not every ranch can afford a high-quality bull or has the manpower, fences or pasture to keep such a large animal. Not every operation desires to have a potentially dangerous animal as part of their herd. I love that when there’s no desire for a ranch to own a bull, we’re able to help get their cattle bred.
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I agree. It’s wonderful that we can have herds without having to feed and maintain a bull (or buck in our case) when it’s just not cost effective for a smaller herd. Really interesting to learn more about your process!
Our first cattle breeding was done via A.I. – we didn’t yet live here and our old fences were not bull worthy. Worked well for us then, even better now that RancherMan’s a certified A.I. tech. ~TxH~
This is a great post and what a wonderful skill that AI is. Our eldest son did the course and is able to do AI too and although we haven’t used it here it is good to know that we can rely on him. We have a Highland bull but I know that my husband has been thinking about getting some dairy bull straws for our dairy cows. Thanks for sharing at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings
AI has been very beneficial for us Terri, and a little side business as well for other ranches (although we’re not making much off of the procedure, it’s something…) I’ve heard dairies really benefit from A.I., especially from sexed semen which is said to be 90% accurate. ~TxH~
Very interesting! We normally keep our own bulls, but have considered AI for specific traits, so this post was educational for me.
Awesome Lori, glad you gleaned something from it. Looks like we’ll have another A.I. job coming up soon in addition to the A.I. for our own herd. Who knew?? ~TxH~
That really sounds like A lot of work.
That is one Beautiful Angus Bull you have there
It really is a lot of work Colleen but it’s rewarding when we get those positive pregnancy results. I did love our Angus boy, but WOW he was big. At least we had him collected so that we can still use his genetics in our herd and with our clients. I was in the pen yesterday with our 3-yr old Hereford boy and although he’s not quite that big yet, his neck is getting huge. Me thinks he’s gonna be a big one too! ~TxH~
I didn’t know y’all kept an Angus bull. My goodness, he is beautiful. And loved this post.
Oh yes Claudia, we used to calve only black baldies by mating him with all our Herefords before we moved into the registered Hereford side of calving. He was beautiful and very docile, but one day RancherMan strolled out to the pasture to check on things & he noticed this big boy was eye-level to his own ‘s 6’-3″ self. Docile or not, that’s a lot of powerful animal – the vet said this bull was over 2,000 lbs. That was a little more bull than we wanted on our ranch. We decided to sell him but we had him collected first and still use him when we want a baldie. We’re considering buying a few registered Angus heifers & seeing what kind of registered Angus calves he throws… ~TxH~
I hope they take. My brother hasn’t been able to find his prized Longhorn bull for several weeks. Brisket is pretty much a pet and had plenty of cows to be entertained, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have gotten out to check out the neighborhood. Even if the backyard at home was 8 sections, maybe he’s on a walkabout. No sign of buzzards yet so that’s good.
OMGoodness Judith, that’s scary. We had a weaning calf we bought at the sale barn a few years ago & even though he was in our fortified weaning pen he pushed through & ran away looking for mama. A week later word got around that a neighbor about 2 miles down the road had found a calf matching his description, pulled him into his pens to hold him & put the word out. Word traveled around the grapevine until it reached friends of ours, who let us know. MAN we’ve got some good folks living around us!! Here’s hoping your brother gets the call soon as well… ~TxH~
Well they have resigned to the fact that old Brisket has more than likely died and the feral hogs have gotten to him before the buzzards. I’m sure they will run across his skeleton one day. That horn spread would be something to hang on to.