How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

This article was co-authored by Karin Lindquist, a trusted member of wikiHow’s volunteer community. Karin Lindquist earned a BSc in Agriculture as an Animal Science major from the University of Alberta, Canada. She has over 20 years of experience working with cattle and crops. She’s worked for a mixed-practice veterinarian, as a sales representative in a farm supply store, and as a research assistant doing rangeland, soil, and crop research. She currently works as a forage and beef agriculture extension specialist, advising farmers on a variety of issues relating to their cattle and the forages they grow and harvest.

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Artificial Insemination (AI) is the second-most common practice of breeding livestock–well, it’s the only alternative to breeding livestock next to natural breeding using a male over females. AI is, however, much more common in dairy production than in beef production, though AI is gaining ground in beef breeding herds due to the increased access and marketing of superior and favourable proven sires. Knowing how to AI cattle is important in order to achieve a high success rate in cattle breeding herds where owning a herd bull is not profitable nor recommended.

The following steps are a reasonably detailed article of what is involved in AI’ing cattle. In order to fully understand how AI is done and to even gain certification for being able to AI livestock, visit a bull semen marketing company like Semex, Genex, Select Sires, or any other bull-semen dispersal company. Check to see if they host any programs for AI certification or becoming a certified AI tech that you can attend to learn more about artificial insemination.This is helpful if you have not yet got a bull to help you breed.

Please also consider using an experienced certified AI tech to AI your cows. These people are better to use than training yourself to do it.

Quick facts

Herd breeding goals

In virgin heifers, a reasonable goal is a first-time conception rate of 55% or more, or fewer than 1.8 services per conception.

For lactating cows, the goal should be a conception rate of 40% or more, or fewer than 2.5 services per conception.

Getting the cow ready

First and foremost, the cow must be ready to be bred. This can be determined by noting signs of estrus or based off a timed synchronization program.

Properly restrain the cow when it is time to breed; it is important for both the cow’s and inseminator’s safety. Pick a place that is easy to use and is familiar to the cow to reduce the stress of the situation.

Proper semen handling

Store insemination supplies and semen tanks in a clean and dry location at all times. Keep accurate records as to semen location within the semen tank and the number of units available.

Preparing the semen straw

  1. Using tweezers, quickly remove the desired straw of semen from the goblet below the frost line.
    1. Don’t use your finger as it potentially leads to thawing the semen too quickly.
    2. If you have multiple cows to breed, only thaw the number of straws of semen that can be successfully used within 15 minutes of thawing.
  2. Shake the straw after you remove it from the semen tank to eliminate any liquid nitrogen at the end of the cotton plug.
    1. This step prevents damage to the semen straw when it is placed in the water bath to warm.
    2. Semen should be thawed at 95°F for 45 seconds.
    3. Be sure to check your thermometer for accuracy. Improper thawing temperate can significantly affect the quality and viability of semen.
  3. While the semen is thawing, record the date, cow name and number, and bull ID in your record keeping system. After the straw is thawed, dry it off with a clean towel and verify that you have grabbed the correct semen straw for the desired mating.

Preparing the breeding gun

  1. Warm the breeding gun by stroking vigorously with hand five or six times.
  2. Make sure that you pull the plunger back about six inches to prepare for the semen straw. Place the end with the cotton plug in the gun.
  3. Cut the sealed end at a 90° angle about one-fourth inch from the end. If not cut correctly, the plastic sheath may not seal tightly resulting in back flow of semen between the straw and sheath.
  4. Place the sterile sheath over the gun and push on until it seals. Sheath protectors can also be helpful to maintain a clean gun for insemination.
  5. Place the gun between your body and shirt to maintain optimal temperature until you are ready to breed the cow.

Breeding the cow

It is recommended to use your left hand in the rectum and right hand to guide the insemination gun regardless of your dominant hand. Use a new breeding glove for every insemination.

  1. Lubricate the glove with mineral oil or a commercial A.I. lubricant.
  2. Let the cow know that you are there by gently patting her on the rump or talking in a soft voice. Enter the rectum by forming a cone like shape with your fingers. Gently palpate the cow and remove any excess manure.
  3. Place the tail on the back side of your left arm so that it is not in the way during insemination.

Inserting the loaded breeding gun

  1. Wipe the vulva and the underside of your palpating arm clean of any manure with a paper towel. This will help prevent any contamination when inserting the loaded gun into the cow’s reproductive tract.
  2. With your left hand make a fist and press down directly on top of the vulva. This will spread the vulva lips allowing easy access to insert the gun.
  3. The insemination gun should be inserted into the vulva upwards at a 30° angle. This helps to prevent the gun from accidentally being inserted into the bladder.
  4. When the gun is 6 to 8 inches inside the vagina, raise the rear of the gun to level position and slide forward until it contacts the beginning of the cervix. If the gun is getting caught in the folds of the cervix, try stretching the cervix away from you with your left hand to free the gun and allow easier passage to the cervix.

Entering the cervix

  1. Place the cervix onto the insemination gun.
  2. Provide forward pressure on the gun while manipulating the cervix slightly ahead of the gun.
    1. Never force the gun through a tough part of the cervix.
    2. Progress is made with the hand inside the cow manipulating the cervix, not the one holding the gun.
    3. Be patient as you work through the rings of the cervix.
  3. Once you have cleared all the cervical rings, the gun should slide forward freely with little resistance.

Depositing the semen

Ideally, semen should be deposited just beyond the cervix into the uterine body. Depositing the semen in the uterine body allows the semen to evenly distribute between both horns.

  1. Slowly deposit semen – it should take about 5 seconds.
    1. Be sure that your fingers of the palpating hand are not blocking the flow of semen or a uterine horn.
    2. Be sure to maintain gun position so that the gun does not pull back into the cervix when depositing the semen.
    3. If the cow is moving and the insemination gun slips back through the cervix ring, correctly reposition the gun tip before continuing semen deposit.
  2. Gently remove the gun and check for any abnormal discharge. If abnormal discharge is present, note it in your breeding records.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

The trend for artificial insemination of cattle is increasing day by day. Due to its simplicity and ease in the completion of procedure, more and more people are preferring artificial inseminations. It has not only eliminated most of the hurdles but is also cost effective and is pretty much alike the natural way.

In the process of artificial insemination, individuals collect the semen from a healthy bull. It is then preserved at a very low temperature and then inserted into a cow’s reproductive area with an aim of conceiving a calf. Unlike older days, artificial insemination has become more popular as it helps the individuals get rid of all the fatigue involved in the process. In addition, it is relatively a much faster procedure but requires expertise and skills to achieve your goal. This plays a major contribution in eliminating most of your costs. For example, if you needed to bring the bull from some other location, now you do not have to bear the cost and you can perform the same task through artificial insemination.

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You should allow your bull to get close to a cow. Observe him closely and when he is about to ejaculate, you should get them separated and put his penis into an artificial vagina. An individual will find it hard to monitor and control the process; therefore you should seek help from a veterinary expert.

Note that there are ways to expand the semen, if you desire to inseminate the semen in more than one cow. Using egg yolk along with antibiotics in a definite proportion is an easy way to extend the semen. However, if you want to use the semen for just one cow, there is no need for that.

You must add glycerol to semen to get rid of all the water. In order to secure it for a longer time, you should keep the semen at -320 Fahrenheit.

You should confirm from a veterinary doctor whether your cow is ready to accept the semen or not.

Before inserting semen, you should wash and clean your cow. Do not forget to read the instructions mentioned on the packaging and clean vulva area of your cow very carefully.

Put on your gloves and gently enter the insemination rod into your cow’s reproductive area, making sure that you reach the uterus. Carefully release the semen and take out the rod when it is delivered.

Artificial insemination in cattle is no doubt a development way for our country and nation as well as a modern activities. Artificial reproduction work should be done by experienced veterinary surgeon without any problem.

Almost in all region Government appointed a veterinary surgeon for improvement of our livestock. Poor farmer and mass people can get all of their solution about livestock from them.

In addition, youth training centers operated by the Bangladesh Directorate of Youth Development also provide training in animal husbandry and its diseases or treatment. The government has an important role in artificial insemination.

Bull sperm used for artificial insemination methods developed for use in healthy cows and the production of calf more than 200000 per year. In this sector Bangladesh Agriculture University has gained hundred percent success.

If the technology used in a random all over the country then the dairy industry will soon be able to reach our desired destination.

Generally, seed collected from bull using specified number of method putting them to cow is called artificial insemination. Seed collected from a bull can use for the reproduction of 60 to 80 cows.

But in artificial insemination it can be used up to 5000 to 10000 cow. A bull can take part at about 700 to 900 delivery of calf.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Through artificial reproduction infectious cattle diseases can be prevent and the cows are not hit by bull. Due to lack of seed collection, storage, transport or ignorance the fertility of cow can be damaged.

If the artificial insemination are not managed efficiently then the provability of worse will be more than good. Related individual necessary lack of training, carelessness, bad diction are responsible for it.

Nowadays due to lack of rearing bull in village area artificial insemination is a must.

There are some good and bad aspect of artificial insemination. Pregnancy rate of artificial insemination is low than natural method ways, as well as it costs much. If seed of an infected bull used it make problem later.

The impact fall on next generation. In addition many cow want to mate more than once. In an experiment it has seen that it takes 13 times in an average to a cow to be pregnant.

Chemicals, dust, huge temperature can easily damage the seed. It can be damaged when it put in a pot mixed with chemicals. In many cases, when the seed fluid or reproductive organ is placed on the outside of the cow can not become pregnant. If the seeds are placed on before or after emissions reduces fertilization.

So second seeds should put later 6 hours after first seeds putting. During putting seeds, if the cow affected by bacteria, the cow faces different types of problem.

For example it faces brucellosis, viriosis, trichinosis and various hereditary diseases. So if any problem occurs advice from veterinary surgeon should taken.

The government has an important role in to training, which will help the development of livestock. Whether the cow is pregnant, determining whether it is warm, fertile bull selection, determining the ability of cows pregnant, pregnant rate increase, to increase the production of milk, take regular care with veterinary surgeon and provide treatment by an experienced doctor.

After all proper care should taken to be success in artificial insemination process.

Artificial insemination in cattle is a technique by which the semen from a bull, is artificially introduced into the vaginal opening of a cow, with the purpose of conception. This article provides information on this technique and its pros and cons.

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Artificial insemination in cattle is a technique by which the semen from a bull, is artificially introduced into the vaginal opening of a cow, with the purpose of conception. This article provides information on this technique and its pros and cons.

Artificial insemination (AI) is a popular, simple and inexpensive treatment of infertility in animals, in which the sperm from the male is collected and introduced artificially, into the reproductive tract of the female for conception. It was in 1780 that the first scientific research in AI of domestic animals, was carried out on dogs. Lazanno Spalbanzani, an Italian scientist, conducted experiments that proved the power of fertilization vested with the spermatozoa and not with the liquid portion of the semen. These studies spearheaded the commercial utilization of this technique for breeding across the globe.

Today, AI has emerged as one of the best techniques devised for genetic melioration of farm animals. This is a remarkable method of breeding quality cattle, in the most natural way possible. AI is being carried out in a large number of buffaloes and cows and is extremely useful in countries like India, wherein quality sires have been scarce. Artificial insemination in cattle has taken care of this major obstacle in the path of cattle improvement.

Artificial Insemination Technique

The process of artificial insemination in cattle involves the deposition of semen, in the vagina of the cow, at the most appropriate time for acceptable conception rates. This is the same way conception is achieved after natural mating. However, this technique has been altered due to its low conception rates and high requirement of sperms.

As a result, another technique called ‘rectovaginal technique’ is quite popular today. This technique involves the insertion of a disposable, sterile catheter containing thawed semen into the vagina of the cow. The catheter is then guided into the spiral folds of the cervix into the uterus, with the help of a gloved hand in the rectum. Some part of the semen is deposited inside the uterus, while the rest of it is left in the cervix as the catheter is withdrawn.

Some people recommend deposition of semen in the cervix canal, with no further deposition in the uterus, of previously inseminated cows. This is because there are chances of pregnancy. This rectovaginal technique is quite complex and requires patience and practice to achieve successful insemination. The timing of insemination also plays a crucial role, as there is a time when maximum conception can be expected.

Advantages of Artificial Insemination

Quality Sires

During natural breeding, males deposit more than the theoretically required quantities of semen into the female’s reproductive tract for conception. AI method involves dilution of collected semen so as to create hundreds of doses from one ejaculate. Thus, AI makes superior sire semen to be available to hundreds of female cows. Artificial insemination in dairy cattle, leads to sires of inheritance for butter fat and milk production. Prior to AI, only few cows could have the advantage of good bulls.

Decreased Costs and Increased Safety

Bulls are bigger and stronger than cows and generally quite difficult to handle around the farm. Their aggressive nature can make them potential threats on the farm. However, AI eliminates the need to have a bull on the farm, as semen can be easily transported to various geographical areas. They can also be stored for a long period of time, which means the semen from a male can be used even after a bull’s natural reproductive life ends. Since maintaining males costs quite a bit, AI decreases the overall costs on the farm.

Reduction in Disease Transmission

The transfer of venereal diseases is quite likely to happen during natural mating. Certain pathogens can be transferred via the semen into the female, during AI as well, however, the screening done after semen collection prohibits this transfer.

Genetic Selection Improvement

Since one male’s semen is more than enough to produce hundreds of offspring, the best few males can be selected for breeding. This helps maintain the vigor of the cattle breed. Artificial insemination in beef cattle helps maintain the genetic pool, thereby obtaining the right strain of beef cattle, required for meat production. Bulls of high genetic merit are available with AI.

Despite all the pros, AI does have its share of cons. It requires dexterity, patience, knowledge, experience, as well as specialized equipment. Improper ways of carrying out AI in animal species, such as improper sterilization of equipment, unsanitary conditions, etc. can nullify the efforts taken to obtain conception. The severe climatic conditions prevalent in most parts of India makes transportation and preservation of semen difficult. Moreover, the need for superior germ plasm has reduced the market for bulls.


How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Agtech’s intensive 2-day class is comprehensive and hands-on instruction in bovine artificial insemination. The class is designed to help you increase your operation’s profitability and efficiency by teaching the skills and techniques of A.I. Class enrollment is limited to keep the classes small, allowing more hands-on time with the cattle.

2022 Class Dates

  • July 11 – 12, 2022
  • August 22 – 23, 2022

Course Highlights

There are many benefits to introducing artificial insemination into your program. You can improve the genetic quality of your herd while eliminating the need to purchase, house and feed bulls. Artificial insemination also gives you access to superior and proven herd sires at an affordable price.

Animal Science students can also benefit from this class by learning a skill that makes you more valuable to perspective employers, veterinary schools or your family ranch/farm.

What You Will Learn

  • Cattle artificial insemination procedure
  • Frozen semen handling and thawing
  • Basic anatomy of female reproductive tract in cattle
  • Heat detection systems
  • Synchronization systems for heifers and cows


$850 is due 45 days prior to start of class and includes all materials for the course and lunch each day.

Class Size

Limited to 8 students maximum, 6 minimum

Previous Experience

About the Instructor

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Jon Herrick instructs the cattle artificial insemination course for Agtech, Inc. He currently works with Select Sires as a Beef Specialist. Jon has been involved in the commercial cattle AI business since 2000. He has instructed ABS Global artificial insemination training schools and currently assists in teaching AI to Animal Science students and the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Jon graduated from Kansas State University in 1998 with a Bachelors degree in Animal Science. Jon currently resides near Miller, NE and is involved in the family farming and ranching operation.

Notice of COVID-19 Policy for Agtech Workshops

As part of our continued commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace and training center, Agtech is taking additional measures to protect staff and workshop attendees from potentially contracting or spreading COVID-19.

If you are registered for a class, then no less than 2 days before class begins you must email ONE of the following two documents to [email protected]

(1) CERTIFICATE of Covid-19 Vaccination: No less than 2 days before class begins, email a clear photo (or scanned copy) of your certificate of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to [email protected] You are considered fully vaccinated:

2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine, or
2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series

(2) CERTIFICATE of Negative Covid-19 Test: No less than 2 days before class begins, email a clear photo (or scanned copy) of your lab-confirmed, negative PCR COVID-19 test results to [email protected], with the test taken no more than 3 days before class begins. Example: Test Friday, email negative certificate Friday or Saturday, class begins Monday.

  • Self-administered “home” antigen test kit results are not acceptable.

CONFIRM: Please email [email protected] several days before class to obtain confirmation that Agtech received your certificate.

Failure to provide the requested documentation timely will result in cancellation of your registration and no tuition refund.

I have read, understand, and agree to the COVID 19 POLICY FOR WORKSHOPS

By: Cody Ringer, Mac Young, Joe Paschal and Steven Klose

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers South Texas cow-calf operations may increase their profitability by artificially inseminating their cows, according to research by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. The analysis found that, compared to ranches that do not use artificial insemination (AI), South Texas ranchers may increase:

  • Net cash farm income by about $108.95 per cow per year, for a net increase of about $22.35 per cow per year
  • Liquidity, or average cash reserves, by almost $160 per cow over 10 years

The study used the Financial and Risk Management (FARM) Assistance strategic planning model to evaluate the financial effects of these three practices. It analyzed a simulated 2,000-acre ranch with 200 cows (one animal unit to 10-acre stocking rate) and eight bulls (one bull to 25 cows).

Artificial insemination

Artificial insemination offers several benefits to ranchers:

  • The genetics of a cow herd is improved through the use of semen from sires that have the desired traits.
  • The number of bulls needed is reduced. In this study, the number of bulls was decreased, from eight to four.
  • When combined with estrus synchronization, the calving season is shortened. All of the cows will come into heat within a short period, usually 48 to 72 hours. AI will enable 50 percent of the calves to be born within the first week of the calving season. All calves will be born within 60 days.
  • Weaning weights will increase if both procedures are used. Even though half of the calves will be born after the first week, they will still average more weight gain than calves from cows not subjected to estrus synchronization. In a shorter calving season, calves have more time to gain weight and be heavier on average at weaning.

In this study, it was assumed that average weaning weights would increase by 50 pounds (Table 1).

The procedure entails three steps that can be performed by an AI technician or a trained rancher:

  1. A synchronization product is administered. A vaginal insert is placed into the cow’s reproductive tract, and a gonadotropin-releasing hormone is injected.
  2. Seven days later, the insert is removed and prostaglandin is injected.
  3. The cow is inseminated with a single dose of semen between 66 and 72 hours after the removal of the vaginal insert.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Assumptions in the study

The general assumptions and characteristics are given in Table 1. Specific assumptions were made in each scenario. A typical ranch was assumed to have a 95 percent calving rate. Cows were assumed to be pregnancy-tested and bulls tested for breeding soundness.

The average cost of pregnancy testing was $6.20 per cow, or $1,240 per year, which includes veterinarian ranch visit expenses and per-head charges. The average cost of breeding soundness examination was $57.63 per bull, or $461 per year.

In this analysis, the synchronization cost was estimated at $15 per cow, or $3,000 total. The average artificial insemination cost was $26 per cow, or $5,200 total, including the technician’s costs. It was assumed that 50 percent (100 cows) of the cows would be bred through AI; the remaining cows would be covered by the four clean-up bulls.

The analysis allotted $2,400 for assorted day labor costs. The use of AI increases day labor because the cattle must be handled more often. It was assumed that four people would be needed for the artificial insemination process: the veterinarian or technician, the owner of the cattle, and two extra day laborers at $75 per hand per day, or $450. Some ranchers may be able to use less day labor and reduce their costs.

The base year for the 10-year analysis of the ranch was 2009; projections were carried through 2018. The commodity and livestock price trends followed projections by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (University of Missouri), with costs adjusted for inflation.

The study used typical rates for the region to calculate production inputs, yields, costs, and estimates for overhead charges. The ranch was assumed to have only intermediate term debt. Local cattle prices were obtained from the Live Oak Livestock Commission Company auction report in Three Rivers for May 4, 2009.

To assess the financial implications of AI, the study calculated the ranch’s profitability and liquidity. Profitability measures the extent that a ranch generates income from its resources. Net cash farm income is one measure of profitability.

Liquidity measures the ability of a ranch to meet its short-term financial obligations without disrupting normal operations. The liquidity of the operation may be measured by the ending cash balance.

The analysis provides insight into the risk and return expectations of the ranch under each management practice.


Comprehensive financial projections, including price and weaning weight risk with and without artificial insemination, are illustrated in Table 2 and Figures 1 and 2. Table 2 shows the average outcomes for selected financial projections, while the graphics illustrate the range of possibilities for the selected variable.

Artificial insemination can impact profitability and financial performance of a cow-calf operation (Table 2 and Fig. 1). Without this process, net cash farm income averages $17,320 per year for the operation, or about $86.60 per cow per year. With artificial insemination, net cash farm income averages $21,780, or about $108.95 per cow per year, for a net increase of about $22.35 per cow per year.

Liquidity, or average cash reserves, at the end of the 10-year projection improves by almost $160 per cow with artificial insemination (Table 2 and Fig. 2). Off-farm income contributes to the cash flow of the ranching business; however, it affects both scenarios.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Although actual results will vary by producer, artificial insemination may improve a ranch’s bottom line and financial position by improving genetics, reducing the calving period, and increasing calf weaning weights. Prudent managers will implement the practices that best fit their operations and management styles.

Do you have a question -or- need to contact an expert?

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Artificial breeding is the use of technologies such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer. Artificial insemination (AI) involves placing semen directly into the uterus. Embryo transfer involves transferring fertilised ova from a donor female to a recipient female who then rears the calf.

Artificial insemination is used in both stud and commercial herds, whilst embryo transfer tends to be used mainly when breeding stud stock. The use of injected hormones is necessary in embryo transfer programs and are often used in AI programs to synchronise oestrous cycles.

Why use artificial insemination

A cattle breeder may choose to utilise artificial insemination (AI) in their herds for several reasons including:

  • genetic improvement
  • access to genetics from across the world
  • access to genetics from bulls that they would not otherwise be able to afford to purchase
  • to reduce the number of bulls required
  • access to breeds that are not available locally
  • to join a bull with more females than he would be able to serve naturally in one mating season
  • to mate individual cows to specific sires
  • potential increased value of progeny from AI sires
  • to reduce the risk of infection from venereal diseases​

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Artificial insemination is a scientific fertility treatment in which male sperm is collected and artificially implanted in the female reproductive system as a way to aid conception. On farms, this process is used to control breeding among different farm animals. Artificial insemination in cattle has been used to produce genetically superior dairy cows and animals for meat production.

Animal Artificial Insemination in History

The history of artificial insemination in cattle and other animals date back to ancient time. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension states that documents from approximately 1322 A.D. found an Arab chieftain who wanted to mate his prized mare with a stallion owned by an enemy. He used cotton containing the scent of the female to excite the stallion, causing him to ejaculate. He placed the released semen in the reproductive tract of the mare, leading to conception. In the 1780s, Italian naturalist Lazzaro Spallanzani artificially inseminated a dog.

Turn of the Twentieth Century

Around 1899 and 1900, Russian scientist E.I. Ivanoff began conducting artificial insemination on cattle, horses, birds and sheep. He was first person recorded to have accomplished the first successful artificial insemination in cattle. Because Ivanoff was so successful at animal artificial insemination, by 1931, Russia bred approximately 19,800 cows.

Spread of Artificial Insemination

Other countries began researching artificial insemination in cattle throughout the 1930s. In 1936, Denmark founded an artificial insemination association. After his visit to the Denmark facility in 1938, New Jersey native E.J. Perry established the first artificial cooperative at New Jersey State College of Agriculture. In the following two years, seven artificial insemination cooperatives according to the Denmark and New Jersey models appeared in the United States.

The 1940s

In the 1940s, the Bureau of Animal Industry registered the Santa Gertrudis cow, a new breed that represented the direct results of artificial insemination in cattle. Despite this significant breakthrough in cattle breeding, it would take 13 years to improve this process. During that time, scientistd realized that collected bull semen could be saved by placing them in egg solution containing antibiotics and chemicals and freezing it for later use. Pennsylvania and Cornell universities conducted genetic tests in which they learned how to distribute genetic material. Since these universities didn’t patent their processes, other places adopted their techniques of artificial insemination.

Affects on Cattle Industry

Artificial insemination in cattle has had a major impact on the dairy and beef industry, improving productivity and increasing food supply. The University of Florida IFAS Extension says that, in 1970, farmers bred more than 7 million dairy cows. The University of Wisconsin-Madison Animal Science states that cattle farmers use artificial insemination because of four major benefits—genetically superior sires, herd maintenance and disease prevention, reduces need to keep aggressive bulls on farms, and organized breeding and record keeping.

Stephen F. Austin University Department of Agriculture will be hosting an Artificial Insemination Field Day on November 8, 2013 in Nacogdoches, Texas. The field day will be held from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Walter C. Todd Agriculture Research Center, 442 CR 123, Nacogdoches, Texas 75965. The field day is open to all Beefmaster breeders and during the educational day breeders will learn about artificial insemination (AI), learn how to AI cattle, learn about estrus synchronization, learn about bull selection and much more.

The registration fee is $150 (non-refundable) for Beefmaster breeders and $100 (non-refundable) for South 40 members. The field day is limited to the first 24 participants, so sign up today to reserve your spot. Dr. Erin Brown and Chris Koffskey will be hosting the clinic and have asked that all participants bring their boots and work clothes for the live cattle sessions. This will be a hands-on field day and all attendees will have the opportunity to AI cows during the sessions.

For more information please contact Dr. Erin Brown by email at [email protected] and by phone at (936) 468-4433. You can also contact Chris Koffskey by email at [email protected] or by phone at (936) 564-5924.

Tentative Field Day Schedule – November 8, 2013

7:30 am – Registration

8:00 am – Anatomy and Physiology of Reproduction, Locating the Target

9:30 am – Sire Selection and EPDs

10:00 am – Work in cows and Semen Handling

1:00 pm – Work in cows

3:00 pm – Heat Detection, Heat Detection Aids and Estrus synchronization

Initial Research Report Understanding Why Artificial Insemination in Beef Cattle is a Smart and Effective Tool

Understanding Why Artificial Insemination in Beef Cattle is a Smart and Effective Tool

Artificial insemination is the process of collecting semen from a bull (male bovine) and impregnating a cow or heifer (female bovine) with the sperm cells (Taponen, 2009). This process has been around for a little over thirty years, making it still fairly new and uncharted territory for many beef cattle ranchers (Lamb, Dahlen, Larson, Marquezini, & Stevenson, 2010). Majority of the dairy cow industry uses artificial insemination, but beef cattle ranchers are still holding onto the past and live cover impregnation. The process of artificial insemination is more effective, cheaper, and puts less stress on the bull and cow/heifer.

When using artificial insemination, semen from bulls housed across the world can be bought and shipped directly to your ranch and then put in your freezer to use when needed. Many ranchers will buy semen from a bull in bulk and use the semen over an entire breeding season. The ability to breed your females to any bull on the market and being able to pick out characteristics that your females may lack but this one bull may have, may increase profit margins greatly, “ I can’t guarantee better calves from AI, but if you do a good job of selecting semen, you will get a bull proven for such things as calving ease, growth, maternal traits, and carcass traits,” (Johnston, 2016). However, if you have the money to house and maintain a prized, well-known bull, you could be the one selling his semen for a profit, while also impregnating your females with his semen.

Why Artificial Insemination Is More Effective Than Live Cover

When using the practice of artificial insemination, ranchers are able to time the impregnation to when the cow/heifer is in heat (Bó & Baruselli, 2014). Heat is the term used when a female cow is going through estrous, and ready to accept a bull. The detection of heat means ranchers know when to pull the cow/heifers from pasture and inseminate them. However, with new technology, estrous synchronization protocols have allowed ranchers to inseminate at a predetermined time, while still achieving the same pregnancy rates as heat detection (Artificial insemination in beef cattle, 2019). When breeding the natural way through live cover, a bull is put in a pasture with one female or multiple females who the rancher believes is in heat. The rancher then hopes for the best and that the female(s) allow the bull to breed her. The rancher will then wait and do a pregnancy check on all the females that should be bred. With artificial insemination, there is no question as to whether the female received semen, the only variable is whether her body accepted the semen and she became pregnant. This shows how artificial insemination is highly effective, as each female is guaranteed to be bred.

Why Artificial Insemination Is More Cost Friendly Than Owning and Managing A Bull And Using Live Cover

When looking at the price difference between artificial insemination and live cover, many ranchers focus on how many straws of semen semen they have to buy and the grand total of the semen. What they do not realize is how much money and labor is required to maintain and care for a bull on their ranch. There is an ownership fee, a maintenance fee, and a risk fee every year that costs these ranchers over $7, 000, just to breed their females to one specific bull every year (Parish & Riley, 2016). With artificial insemination, the average price of a straw of semen is $25, along with labor and manpower required to pull the females and impregnate them. A ranch running one bull would have to artificially inseminate almost 300 females to make a profit off of the bull. Most ranches that would be breeding that many heifers will be owning and maintaining more than one bull, therefore, decreasing their profit margins to start out with. However, when using the process of artificial insemination, these ranches that are running 300 or more head of females can eliminate their bull fees and replace them with fees for straws of semen, averaging about $7, 000 to impregnate all their females. Artificial insemination also allows ranchers to breed their females in a shorter amount of time. Females will be brought in from pasture in groups of around 75, allowing the breeding process to be done in around 4 days. When practicing live cover, the bull will be put into one pasture with females for multiple days, and then moved to another pasture to breed to the next round of females (Johnston, 2016).

Risks of live cover versus artificial insemination

Artificial insemination takes away many of the risks that come with live cover. When artificially inseminating, the female is in a machine, called a squeeze chute, which makes them much more clam, rather than if they are out in a pasture under the stress of a bull. The squeeze chute works with levers that close certain parts of the chute at certain times. When the female enters the chute, the person running the chute will first close the hind gate, cutting the other cows off and securing them out of the shoot. Almost immediately after, the head gate will close around the neck of the female, securing the female in the chute. Next the sides of the chute are pressed close to the female, allowing her to feel comfortable. The rancher and his help then inseminate the female, which takes around 20-40 seconds depending on how skilled the help is. After the female is inseminated, she is released into a pasture with the other inseminated females, where she will stay until the rancher brings them all back to pregnancy check them. The females that are not pregnant get put in a separate pasture and will be inseminated again or sent to slaughter. Those who are pregnant will be put together and watched until they calve.

When females are used for live cover, they are not protected by a chute or help. The bull will mount them, and if the female is willing, he will breed her. Many times, the bulls are much bigger than the females, especially young heifers, causing injury.

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How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Good body condition and calving early in the season are keys to success with an AI synchronization protocol for cows. | Download this photo.

Cattle Chat: Breeding cows with artificial insemination

Kansas State beef cattle experts offer considerations for using AI in the herd

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Many beef producers ascribe to the belief that the main job of a cow on the ranch is to annually raise a healthy calf. To do that she must be bred on a regular interval post calving.

According to Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute veterinarian Bob Larson and nutritionist Phillip Lancaster, artificial insemination is one way that producers can maintain the herd on a short calving season.

“While I highly recommend an A.I. synchronization program in heifers, with cows there are other factors that producers need to consider before making that choice,” Larson said.

Speaking on a recent Cattle Chat podcast, he explained that breeding through AI synchronization is easier to implement with heifers because they make up a smaller percentage of the herd and are females of a similar age that haven’t raised a calf.

“In order for AI to be successful with cows, producers need to have good facilities and plenty of labor available along with cows that calve within a tight window of time,” Larson said.

He said the most likely cows to get rebred through AI are ones that calve within the first 20 days of the season.

Lancaster stressed the importance of keeping the cows in good body condition and that in some programs it makes sense to segregate the cows into breeding groups based on calving date.

“With that protocol, the first group of cows are artificially inseminated 21-day intervals from the start of calving, and each group is artificially inseminated when the average time since calving is about 60 days,” Lancaster said. “Giving those cows more time to recover after calving will make a big difference in the overall AI success rate.”

Another factor for consideration is the cost of the protocols said Larson.

“Implementing synchronization protocols and AI does come with an increased cost in both supplies and labor, so it is important for producers to capture that value,” Larson said.

Some of the ways he suggested include retaining ownership in the calves through the carcass phase or capitalizing on the enhanced genetics through marketing.

“AI isn’t for everyone and producers really need to think through if it matches the goals for the cows in their own operation,” Larson said.

To hear more about this discussion, tune in to the BCI Cattle Chat podcast online.

At a glance

K-State veterinarian Bob Larson and nutritionist Phillip Lancaster offer a perspective on why AI synchronization is more difficult to execute in cows versus heifers.


Notable quote

“In order for AI to be successful with cows, producers need to have good facilities and plenty of labor available along with cows that calve within a tight window of time.”

— Bob Larson, veterinarian, Kansas State University

Robin Salverson

SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Calving is just wrapping up for most producers, but it is hard to think about next year’s calf crop. However, with the 2021 Artificial Insemination (AI) beef sire directories available, it is time to think about breeding season, especially if you will be using synchronization. Depending on which protocol is selected, it could be over 35 days from the start of the program to artificial insemination. As a result, the need to purchase Controlled Internal Drug Releases (CIDRs) or Melengestrol Acetate (MGA) needs to be on the top of the to-do list.

The Beef Reproduction Task Force, composed of AI and pharmaceutical company representatives, veterinarians and university reproductive specialist have developed a list of synchronization protocols recommended for heifers for both conventional semen and sexed, based on research data and field use. The recommended protocols can be found in genetic company catalogs and the Beef Reproduction Task Force website. To help compare synchronization protocols and to develop synchronization and breeding calendars, consider using the free Estrus Synchronization Planner.

Heifer Estrous Synchronization Protocols for Conventional Semen

The recommended heifer estrous synchronization protocols for conventional semen have been put into one of three categories: 1) Heat Detection Protocol; 2) Heat Detection and Timed AI Protocol and 3) Fixed-Time AI Protocol.

Heat Detection Protocols

Heifers in these protocols should be inseminated 12 hours after the first observation of standing heat. Peak heat activity occurs approximately 48 to 72 hours after prostaglandin (PG). In order to optimize AI pregnancy rates, heat detection should occur at minimum three times per day for at least one hour per check. This equates to a total of three hours per day heat checking with five to six hours of heat check increasing overall AI pregnancy rates. It is also important to train individuals to detect signs of heat (Table 1) and application of a heat detection aid will help assist in determining heifers in heat when no one is watching. The heat detection protocols for heifers include:

  • One-Shot PG
  • Seven-Day CIDR®-PG
  • MGA®-PG

Table 1. Observe cow for sign of heat during detection protocols.

Heat Detect and Time AI (TAI) Protocols

These protocols include a combination of both heat detection and timed insemination. Heifers observed in heat should be inseminated 12 hours after standing heat. After approximately three days of heat detection, all heifers not showing heat after PG injection will be given an injection of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and inseminated (i.e. timed insemination). The amount of time spent on heat detection is reduced and early responders have a better chance of conceiving compared to a single fixed-time AI. The Heat Detect and Timed AI protocols include:

  • Select Synch + CIDR® & TAI
  • MGA® – PG & TAI
  • 14 – day CIDR® – PG & TAI

Fixed-Timed AI (TAI) Protocols

In a fixed-time AI protocol, all heifers are inseminated at a pre-determined time with no heat detection required. These protocols are typically more intensive and expensive, but no time is dedicated to heat detection. However, expect a lower conception rate compared to the previous protocols. When considering these fixed-time AI protocols, only synchronize the number of heifers that can be inseminated in a four-hour period (protocol dependent). Fixed-Time AI protocols include:

  • Short Term Protocols
    • Seven-day CO-Synch + CIDR®
    • 5-day CO-Synch + CIDR®
  • Long Term Protocols
    • 14-day CIDR® – PG
    • MGA® – PG

Heifer Estrous Synchronization Protocols for Sexed Semen

A straw of sexed semen (gender selected) may have two-to-four million sperm cells compared to 20-to-40 million in a conventional straw that includes both male and female sperm cells. Due to lower number of sperm cells per straw and other negative influences, different protocols were developed to improve conception rates to sexed semen.

The recommended heifer estrous synchronization protocols for sexed semen have been put into one of three categories: 1) Heat Detection Protocol, 2) Fixed Time AI Protocol and 3) Split-Time AI.

Heat Detection

All heat detection protocols listed for conventional semen are acceptable to use with sexed semen. Estrous detection aids are highly encouraged. Note that heifers are artificially inseminated 16 to 22 hours after the first observation of standing heat with sexed semen compared to 12 hours with conventional semen.

Timed AI

To optimize pregnancy rate, it is recommended to use estrous detection aids and only use sexed semen on heifers that have activated heat detection aids and the heifers not in heat bred to conventional semen.

  • Seven-day CO-Synch + CIDR®
  • PG-7 Seven-day CO-Synch + CIDR®

Split-Time AI (STAI)

Go to the Beef Reproduction Task Force website to review the split-time AI protocol. Additional time is required, however, number of heifers detected in heat and bred at the optimal time will be the result, hopefully increasing conception rate.

  • 14-day CIDR®-PG & STAI

Handling and Administering Synchronization Hormones

When handling all hormones, including the CIDR®, wear latex or non-latex gloves, regardless if you are a man or a woman. Prostaglandin is a smooth muscle contractor; our intestines are the largest smooth muscle in the human body. If prostaglandin is absorbed through the skin, it can “tie up” the digestive system. Additionally, the hormone functions in the human body like it does in a heifer or cow, therefore, extreme care should be taken when handling all synchronization hormones.

Follow the protocol, give the proper hormone injection or insert at the right time and don’t expect to jump start all heifers that are not cycling. When administering injectable hormones, follow Beef Quality Assurance guidelines.

The adage more is always better does not work with melengestrol acetate (MGA). First, it is illegal to use MGA off label. Secondly, MGA is absorbed in the fat and will take longer to clear from the heifer’s system when fed at a rate higher than 0.5 mg per head per day, creating problems with estrus (heat) responses and subsequent timing of prostaglandin injection.

The addition of a progestin, such as CIDR®, in the protocol can help jump-start some of the non-cycling heifers. However, caution needs to be taken. CIDR® or MGA® are not the “cure all” for under-developed, non-cycling heifers. An evaluation of the nutrition program is recommended if a high percentage of heifers are not cycling.

For more information related to estrous synchronization contact Robin Salverson, Olivia Amundson or Kiernan Brandt.

SDSU Extension

Originally written by Taylor Grussing, former SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist.

Replacement heifers are the most common group of females on the ranch to be artificially inseminated (3.9 %; NAHMS, 2009). The reason is because of their close proximity to the ranch where they are frequently fed in dry lot or supplemented, making it more convenient for producers. The 2016 Beef Heifer estrous synchronization protocols were developed by the Beef Reproductive Task Force and can be as simple, or complex as a producer chooses. The advantages of using these protocols include females becoming pregnant earlier in the breeding season leading to earlier calving in the subsequent calving season, weaning heavier calves and the potential to continue rebreeding early each year. Therefore, it is an excellent idea for producers at the very least to implement an estrous synchronization program into their heifer development operation and artificial insemination (AI) if possible.

SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, Warren Rusche outlined the aspects involved with successful use of MGA to synchronize heifers for breeding season. Another option available for heifer (and cow) synchronization is use of a CIDR (Controlled Internal Drug Release). Like MGA, the CIDR serves as a transport mechanism for the hormone progesterone to be utilized by the female in attempts to modify her reproductive cycle for breeding. Progesterone is the hormone that blocks estrus and is also responsible for maintaining pregnancy. A CIDR is a “T” shaped rubber device that contains 1.38 grams of progesterone encased in rubber molded over the nylon spine.

CIDR Advantages

The primary advantages of using the CIDR are that it is simple to insert and it works to control estrus in cycling and prepubertal heifers, as well as cycling and anestrous cows. Protocols without progestins do not stimulate estrous cycles in prepubertal and anestrous females; therefore, CIDRs are the best route if producers do not know the cycling status of the herd or if trying to shorten the postpartum interval. In addition, the CIDR can be used in a variety of protocols giving the producer more choices to use either a short-term or long term protocol that best fits into their schedule.

CIDR Disadvantages

Some disadvantages of CIDRs include the expense and labor required for trips through the chute. CIDRs cost

$11/insert and are labeled for one time use only. In addition, in contrast to MGA, heifers must make 1 or 2 extra trips (in addition to breeding) through the chute for insertion and removal of the CIDR. However, by using CIDR protocols producers can be confident the correct dosage of progestin is delivered each day without starting the feeder wagon or worrying about delivering a consistent dose via MGA.

Which CIDR protocol is best?

The key to success with any estrus synchronization protocol, including CIDRs, is compliance. There are different CIDR protocols for heifers and cows, and it is important to follow the correct protocol and timeline based on the age of the female you are dealing with. For example, in the 5-day CO-Synch + CIDR protocol, heifers are to be bred at 60 ± 4 hr. versus cows bred at 72 ± 2 hr. after CIDR removal. These time differences are based on differences in hormones and time of ovulation between heifers and cows, with protocols designed to breed at a time that will yield the most successful results. An operation’s available labor, facilities, and experience will also dictate which protocol that they can most efficiently carry out in an efficient, timely manner to be successful, whether it’s heat detection, heat detection + timed AI or fixed-time AI (FTAI).

Specifically within the heifer protocols, CIDRs can be used for 5, 6, 7 or 14 days. When utilizing the 14-day CIDR it is important to remember to never breed females on the first estrus after CIDR removal due to persistent, aged follicles which are likely less fertile and would not return favorable results. A study done by Bridges and others published in the Journal of Animal Science in 2014 compared pregnancy rates of beef heifers after exposure to 3 different FTAI protocols: 5-day CO-Synch + CIDR, PG 6-day CIDR, or 14-day CIDR – PG protocol. Differences in puberty were seen between treatments due to more heifers in the 14-day protocol being prepubertal at treatment initiation. However, pregnancy rates between the 3 FTAI treatments were not different resulting in 62.6%, 56.9%, and 53.3% for 5d-CO-Synch+CIDR, PG-6dCIDR, and 14dCIDR-PG, respectively. Puberty attainment was determined to have the most effect on pregnancy success. Starting heifers off with proper nutrition and health management to have them reach puberty prior to estrus synchronization and AI, will assist producers with a successful breeding season.

Download the free Estrus Synchronization Planner to develop a complete synchronization and breeding calendar designed specific to your protocol, breeding date and herd size for heifers and cows.


Bridges, G. A., S. L. Lake, S. G. Kruse, S. L. Bird, B. J. Funnell, R. Arias, J. A. Walker, J. K. Grant, and G. A. Perry. 2014. Comparison of three CIDR-based fixed-time AI protocols in beef heifers. J. Anim. Sci. 92: 3127 – 3133.

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How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

1 of 20 Cows stand with their calves in a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

2 of 20 A calf walks through a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

4 of 20 Cows stand in a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

5 of 20 A cow stands in a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

7 of 20 A calf stands near its mother at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

8 of 20 Cows stand with their calves in a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

10 of 20 A calf walks through a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

11 of 20 A calf puller is used to help cows give birth if it has problems in labor. Chains are attached to the calve’s legs, then the puller uses a ratcheting mechanism to help ease the cow out. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

13 of 20 J. Storme Jannise puts out feed to draw cows and calves closer at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

14 of 20 J. Storme Jannise shows the calf puller she uses to help a cow give birth at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Chains are attached to the ratcheting device and the calve’s legs to help ease it out of the womb. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

16 of 20 A cow walks with her calf in a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

17 of 20 J. Storme Jannise puts out feed to draw cows and calves closer at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

19 of 20 Cows stand with their calves in a pasture at the Herbert Clubb & Sons Cattle Co. ranch in Hamshire on Thursday afternoon. Photo taken Thursday 4/7/16 Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise Ryan Pelham Show More Show Less

You’re a blushing, young female cow and it’s high time you were introduced to the facts of life, so you’re going to meet an adolescent bull whose role in this affair is that of fumbling teenaged idiot.

It’s J. Storme Jannise’s job on the Herbert Clubb and Sons Ranch in Hamshire, started by her great-grandparents in 1940, to spot the first-timer heifers and arrange for them to be artificially inseminated with bull semen selected for a smaller calf.

The process starts with a charade designed to minimize the heifer’s stress.

“We put a little bull out there, a teaser bull, who can’t do his job,” she said.

That means the equivalent of a pimply awkward boy cow whose nose tells him the female is ready, but his ability to do something about it isn’t.

Jannise then separates that heifer, and others like her whose windows are open for business, into a pen so a straw-like device can be inserted and the sperm cells squirted inside.

Nine months later, in early March through May, a new crop of calves drops, just in time for warmer weather and growing grass. The young mother has the opportunity to put on more weight, nurse the young ‘un and get ready for a date with a real ripsnorter next year.

“We try for a 90 percent calf crop each year,” said Jannise, 23, a graduate of Hamshire-Fannett High school and Sam Houston State University, where she earned a degree in May 2013 in agricultural business and a minor in animal science.

“I’ve been working cows for as a long as I can remember,” she said.

Her grandfather, Harold Clubb, 83, said he remembers “sort of” babysitting for her, which meant putting her in the truck and driving out into the pastures while J. Storme stood on the passenger seat and looked out the window at the livestock.

Jannise drives the truck now with her blue heeler Tuff in tow. He looks out the window until it’s his turn to nip at the cows’ heels and turn them in the direction Jannise wants.

In the back of the truck is a device that looks like a pitchfork missing the inner tines. Instead of a smooth shaft, it resembles a 10-foot long screw with a ratchet that pulls one side and then the other.

A loop at the front end is cinched around a pregnant cow’s hips. A double set of chains is affixed as far up the baby calf’s legs as Jannise can get it.

One pull winches out one shoulder. A second pulls winches out the other shoulder. Repeat until the calf clears the birth canal.

Such is the stress for a first-time mom who is having a difficult birth.


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Artificial Insemination: Improving the Productivity and Profitability of Cattle Operations

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Over the past 12 months, domestic and export demand for Australian beef genetics has risen substantially, with Australia selling up to 50 per cent more beef semen at a higher price than we were just a few years ago.
This increase in demand has re-iterated how beneficial artificial insemination is to the cattle industry, as well as the importance of protecting assets as valuable as livestock.

So, what is artificial insemination and how big of a role does it play in the Australian cattle industry?

What Is Artificial Insemination in Beef Cattle?

Artificial insemination (AI) involves placing semen directly into a cow’s uterus. This breeding technique can be utilised in both stud and commercial herds but is also suitable for breeding stud stock.

What are the Advantages of Using Artificial Insemination in Beef Cattle?

There are countless reasons more and more Australian farmers are starting to turn to artificial insemination when breeding beef cattle, including:

  • Improving the genetic makeup of cattle
  • Accessing genetics from across the globe
  • Providing access to prized bulls that many farmers wouldn’t have been able to purchase if relying on traditional forms of conception
  • Bulls are able to artificially inseminate more females in one season than they would be able to when following traditional practices
  • Reducing the risk of infection from venereal diseases

Thanks to the above, commercial cattleman are able to take advantage of increased weaning weights (due to females conceiving earlier in the season), improved post-weaning performance, enhanced carcass value, and more productive replacement heifers. Plus, breeders can expect to experience a more compact breeding pattern and a more even line of calves.

The Cost of Implementing Artificial Insemination

In the past, Australian cattle farmers have been hesitant to implement artificial breeding due to the high costs associated with this practice.

For instance, there are significant costs associated with labour, availability and skilled individuals to adequately manage an artificial insemination scheme. Developing suitable handling facilities, the cost of semen and the required drugs to effectively impregnate healthy females are also contributing factors.

Generally speaking, these costs need to be weighed against potential savings related to less need to purchase and care for bulls throughout the year, as well as the potential increase in income due to heavier calves at weaning thanks to more calves being born earlier in the calving period and an increased value of calves coming from sought-after sires.

The Importance of Insuring Your Investment

Taking all of the above into consideration, including both the significant costs of investing and implementing a successful artificial insemination program, as well as protecting your potential earning ability from said cattle, finding the right insurance policy for your cattle and insemination facilities is a must.

Due to the specialised nature of livestock breeding, your safest bet is to enlist the assistance of an experienced farm insurance broker, such as AIA Insurance Agencies. We take great pride in our ability to provide tailored advice regarding stud and livestock insurance, ensuring you’re financially protected for your greatest assets.

If you’re looking for an insurance professional to assist you with finding the perfect stud and livestock insurance, contact the team at AIA today!

Boosting Agriculture Through Partnership, Investment and Technology Transfer

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ alt=”” srcset=” 960w, 150w, 350w, 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 960px) 100vw, 960px” /> Agricultural officials administer artificial insemination (A.I) to a dairy cow at a home at Endarasha in Nyeri. Timely A.I is important as delays in serving a dairy cow will reduce chances of conception as the ovum/egg ages or the spermatozoa may die.

Artificial insemination (A.I.) is a common method used to breed cattle. The process involves taking semen collected from a bull and depositing it in a cow. The primary advantage of A.I. is it allows breeders to select from a larger population of sires, making superior genetics available to more than just a few breeding operations. However, properly executing an A.I. program requires specialized knowledge and additional time.

Overview of A.I.

The artificial insemination process starts with the bull. Semen is collected from the bull, extended with a diluent and prepared for storage, if necessary. A veterinarian or A.I. technician then uses instruments to deposit the semen into a cow in oestrus.

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ src=”″ alt=”Artificial Insemination in a Cow” width=”450″ height=”232″ srcset=” 450w, 900w, 150w, 350w, 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 450px) 100vw, 450px” /> Artificial insemination in a cow


  1. It is the only form of mating that allows efficient control of venereal diseases.
  2. It is the most economical method of mating which can be applied. It eliminates purchase of expensive bulls and maintenance costs and prevents possible losses of bulls.
  3. It is the most efficient technique of cattle improvement. One bull can procreate 500 to 8, 000 progeny per annum while natural servicing provides a mere 30 to 40 progeny per annum.
  4. Adequate progeny is procreated for a reliable evaluation to be made of the breeding value of a bull at a relatively young age.
  5. It necessitates accurate record keeping and a high level of management, resulting in a high degree of efficiency.
  6. Proven bulls are seldom sold, and their frozen semen can be distributed world-wide.
  7. The semen of outstanding bulls can be stored for years and thus used for subsequent breeding programmes.


  1. Venereal diseases can be distributed rapidly as a result of incorrect or negligent handling of A.I. because more cows are involved.
  2. Undesirable characteristics and heritable deficiencies are transferred to more progeny and,
  3. The possibility of inbreeding is much greater than with natural servicing.


When deciding between artificial insemination and natural service, cattle producers should consider whether it is an ideal fit for their operation. A.I. requires adequate working facilities and skilled labour. If there is not a veterinarian or A.I. technician in the area it may be cost-prohibitive to use artificial insemination. A breeder needs to figure out if the costs saved by not housing a breed bull are greater than the added costs associated with A.I. However, A.I. may offer an opportunity to greatly increase the herd’s genetics that is not available through natural service.

For further info, you can Download the following PDF guide Breed Improvement and Fertility Management Training Manual and Guideline now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.

Dean Kreager | Feb 03, 2022

With only 10% of beef herds in the U.S using artificial insemination, from time to time the discussion arises on whether it is worth doing on small beef farms. In some situations, this is an easy answer, while in other situations it is not so clear-cut.

Some herds are operated with the goal of producing superior offspring. Others are trying to get income from land not suitable for other purposes, and they want to do it with minimal labor. Both are worthy goals, but the use of AI only fits one of the two situations.

Why use artificial insemination?

There are many possible reasons to use AI, but here are three:

1. Genetic improvement. Whether you are raising purebred cattle and tracking expected progeny differences or raising show cattle and looking at phenotype, AI opens the door to using the top genetics in the country.

For $20 to $50 per straw, you can purchase semen on nearly any bull. You also have the option to purchase semen from a variety of sires to improve your genetic diversity. Can you afford more than one bull in a small herd? New sires are released every year, and on average, each generation is better than the previous generation. How often can you afford to replace your bull with a new model?

Finally, you have the option of sexed semen. Improvements continue to be made in sex-sorting semen. Current results are typically within 10% of conventional semen pregnancy rates.

2. Biosecurity. A bull brought into your herd has the potential to bring along diseases your herd may not have been exposed to in the past. A good vaccination program goes a long way in reducing these risks. There still is a concern of sexually transmitted diseases being transferred if the bull services other cattle through lease arrangements or weak fences.

3. Safety. No matter how calm a bull may seem, it is still a bull and should not be trusted. While beef bulls tend to be less dangerous than dairy bulls, there are still many people injured or killed by bulls each year.

Herd health first

Before implementing an AI breeding program, it is crucial your herd health and nutrition program are being taken care of.

If you do not have a vaccination program in place, consult with a veterinarian to develop a program that will work well for your farm. Breeding time is not the time to vaccinate. Vaccinations should be given five to six weeks before breeding. Vaccinating too near insemination time can result in reduced pregnancy rates.

Be sure your cows are receiving adequate nutrition. This involves testing the forage and monitoring body condition scores. Very thin cows with body condition scores of 4 or less are likely to have greatly reduced fertility.

Remember the nutrients a cow takes in first go to maintenance and second to growth. Next the nutrients are used for production, which in this case is milk. Finally, anything that is left can be used for reproduction. Too often, there may not be enough energy or protein left after maintenance, growth and production take their share, and reproduction suffers.


When it comes down to economics, there are many things to consider. If you are just looking at dollars spent, it is hard to continue to feed and care for a bull while adding the AI costs on top of the bull expenses.

Going 100% AI is possible, but takes dedication to details and a time commitment to heat detection and pregnancy checking. It is challenging to maintain a narrow calving window when a cleanup bull is not used, but it is possible.

A study reported by Les Anderson at the University of Kentucky looked at the dollar cost per pregnancy when using bulls purchased at various prices. A $3,000 bull used for 15 cows resulted in a cost of about $100 per calf, depending on many factors such as pregnancy rate. While this may not be exact today, it can provide a ballpark idea.

When it comes to costs for AI, many beef cattle are bred using an estrus synchronization program. I am including those costs for this discussion. With a cost of about $20 for synchronization, $20-$40 for semen and about $20 if you need to hire a technician, you are at about $60-$80 without adding in labor.

With a 60% pregnancy rate, you are at about $115 per pregnancy. There are also other costs to consider, such as owning a nitrogen tank and paying to have it filled about every eight weeks, which could amount to $300-$500 per year.

There is not one way to raise cattle that is right for all situations. If your goal is to maximize genetic improvement in your cattle, and you are willing to spend some time and invest in facilities, AI is a great place to start.

If you do decide to try AI, remember that impacts may take years to be observed. The generation interval on cattle is long, so you won’t see results immediately.

Extension and Ag Research News

(Click the image below to view a high-resolution image that can be downloaded)

Using estrus synchronization and artificial insemination to control breeding in cattle has several benefits, according to North Dakota State University livestock experts.

“Artificial insemination (AI) offers the opportunity to use semen from high-accuracy, genetically superior sires at a fraction of the cost of purchasing a herd bull of similar genetics,” says NDSU Extension Service beef cattle specialist Carl Dahlen.

“In addition, using estrus synchronization and AI can increase the number of calves born earlier in the calving season and increase weaning weights of calves,” he notes. “An additional benefit comes as calving approaches with the ability to precision feed a group of cattle with a similar stage of gestation.”

For best results with AI, cows should be on an increasing plane of nutrition, on a consistent diet, at least 45 days postpartum and in a low-stress environment.

Producers have several recommended options for synchronizing cows and/or heifers. The recommendations can be found at

“These protocols have been tested in thousands of cattle at multiple locations before recommendation by a group of industry and academic experts called the Beef Reproduction Task Force,” says Karl Hoppe, Extension area livestock systems specialist at NDSU’s Carrington Research Extension Center.

Here are some steps Dahlen and Hoppe suggest to maximize pregnancy rates with AI:

  • Work cattle calmly – Each person working cattle always should practice calm, low-stress handling techniques through adequate facilities, or stress may lead to poor results. Moving cattle calmly through facilities several times in advance of the breeding season can reduce the stress of subsequent handling events and improve cattle temperament, and may increase pregnancy rates.
  • Be diligent with heat detection – Producers who use protocols that include heat detection must identify cows that are in heat. Not catching cows that come into heat will lead to disappointing results. Old rules of thumb of conducting heat detection 30 minutes per day morning and evening likely will result in missed heats, so consider more frequent and longer heat detection periods.
  • Strive for complete compliance with synchronization protocols – Each task at each working event is required for successful synchronization, and impacts of noncompliance, such as missed cattle, improper injections, CIDRs (controlled internal drug release technology) left in, etc., are additive. If every task is completed correctly 90 percent of the time and a protocol requires three working events, the end result would be that 72.9 percent of females are synchronized correctly (.90 × .90 × .90 = 72.9 percent). Strive for complete compliance when executing tasks to limit negative additive effects.
  • Handle semen and inseminate with proper technique – Proper semen handling begins when the semen arrives on the ranch. Transfer semen from dry shippers to storage tanks as soon as possible, and make sure the tanks have plenty of nitrogen and are kept in a safe place. Thawing semen, loading AI guns and insemination all need to be done correctly. Producers wishing to AI their cows need to be proficient at AI or should consider hiring an AI technician.
  • Work with the weather – Although producers cannot control it, they need to understand the impacts that weather can have. For summer breeding seasons with heat in the forecast, be sure to schedule working and breeding activities for the coolest period of the day when possible. Early morning (first light) is the time of day when cattle’s body temperature is the coolest. If cattle working is required during peak periods of sunlight and heat, provide shade and water when possible and ample space for cattle to spread out in staging areas. Also ensure that cattle spend as little time as possible in closely confined portions of working facilities.
  • Plan post-AI movement and nutrition carefully – Whenever possible, transport cattle from day one to four after AI or delay shipment until 45 days after AI to avoid transport-induced pregnancy losses. For dry lot-developed females, adapt them to summer grass for a period prior to breeding or consider supplementing them on pasture to reduce losses associated with rapid diet and environment changes.

“Many factors can contribute to the success of an AI breeding program,” Dahlen says. “Concentrating on managing factors that we can influence is imperative to maximize pregnancy rates and the number of AI calves born in an operation.”

NDSU Agriculture Communication – May 31, 2017

Artificial Insemination School
April 23rd – 25th, 2022

Location: UGA Bull Evaluation Center
2347 GA HWY 32 W
Chula, GA 31733 (Tifton area)

This Artificial Insemination School is coordinated by the UGA Beef Team in conjunction with ABS Global. The school offers students the opportunity to learn AI techniques and herd management under skilled supervision. The curriculum includes: Anatomy and Reproduction; Reproduction and Fertility; Heat Detection; Nutrition; Principles of Genetics and Sire Selection; Herd Management Success; Semen Placement and Practice Insemination. The Synchronization of Beef Cattle and Planned Breeding of Dairy Heifers will be introduced. This is a comprehensive course with sufficient cow practice to assure competence. The course consists of 24 hours of instruction; 14 hours in the classroom and 10 hours in lab working with cattle.


REGISTRATION FEE: $500. This covers the cost of supplies and practice cows used at the school. This program is limited to 15 students in order to insure as much one-to-one help during practice as possible. Therefore, registrations will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis.

Complete registration form and return it with a check for $500.00 made payable to: James E. Umphrey

For other forms of payment please contact James or Pedro Fontes directly via text, call or email.

Send to: James E Umphrey
2933 Green Street
Marianna, FL 32446

Due to limited spaces, applications will be accepted on a first come first serve basis.

All applications must be sent to James Umphrey to be put on the list.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers


Many people unfamiliar with agriculture have asked: Is artificial insemination of dairy cows abuse? The short answer is no. Artificial insemination is a safe and humane procedure that farmers use to improve livestock safety, health, and genetics.

Artificial insemination (often referred to in the ag industry as A.I.) is the process of depositing sperm cells in the female reproductive tract via instrumental means for the purpose of breeding. It’s a procedure that is done by trained technicians, or even farmers themselves who have gone through training and certification. And one interesting fact is that it’s a reproductive technology also used in humans!

Artificial insemination is safer for the cows and for the farmer and results in the cow achieving its biological goal – getting pregnant.

A brief history of artificial insemination

Artificial insemination is not a new technology. In the 17th century, Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek was the first to observe and describe sperm cells in semen. A century later, an Italian priest and physiologist named Lazzaro Spallanzani performed the first known artificial insemination in a dog, which resulted in three pups. Artificial insemination became a focal point of study in the early 20th century, starting in Russia and Japan before spreading to Denmark and the rest of the west.

The 1940s saw huge growth and innovation of artificial insemination in U.S. dairy cattle, which influenced growth across the world. Further innovation in semen preservation, quality, and collection methods continued over the 20th century. Genetic selection in dairy cattle also improved. Both reproduction and genetics continue to be a huge area of research and innovation.

When are cows bred?

Farmers only breed their animals when they’re fertile. For a cow, every 21 days they have a fertile period, called estrus — or being “in heat.” A cow can only get pregnant during this window, so there’s no reason for them to be bred if they’re not in heat.

They signal they’re in heat by increased vocalization, increased locomotion, twitching and elevating the tail, increased grooming and licking, mounting other animals, and standing to be mounted. The most definitive sign is standing to be mounted by another cow. If there is a bull, this would signal him to breed the cow. Without a bull, this is how farmers would know the cow is ready to be bred.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifersImage by Worldpics, Shutterstock

Are dairy cows being bred constantly?

Farmers choose to not breed their cows every single time they’re in heat. A cow may come in heat within a couple weeks of calving, but that’s not the best time for their health to breed them. Farmers wait to breed their cows typically in 50 to 80 days since they gave birth, called a voluntary waiting period. Farmers customize this based on what works best with their herd. Periodic health checks from veterinarians also ensure a cow is ready to be bred.

Heifers, young female bovines who have not given birth, are not being constantly bred either. Farmers wait until the heifer is big enough both in frame and weight and old enough to safely carry a pregnancy and have no problems giving birth.

Couldn’t farmers just use a bull?

Some farms choose to use bulls, but many dairy farms have switched to artificial insemination. To a cow in heat, they’re goal is to get pregnant. Whether via bull or artificial insemination, it doesn’t make a difference to them.

One of the biggest advantages to artificial insemination is safety. Bulls — especially dairy bulls — can be large and aggressive. It’s a well-known adage to never turn your back on a bull, as even the seemingly nice ones can turn on you. It’s also safer for the cows. Bulls are on a mission to breed whatever cow is in heat, even if the cow has only recently calved, is too small, or is related. Artificial insemination also significantly decreases the risk of venereal diseases.

Another big advantage is genetics. Innovations in semen preservation have allowed semen to be shipped from bulls from around the country and world. When using bulls for breeding, it’s difficult to match the variation and selection of artificial insemination. A farm may run a bull or two, versus having semen samples stored from dozens of bulls from across the world to choose from. With more bulls to choose from, genetic selection can be used to further improve the herd. Whether that be through calving-ease bulls, bulls with high health traits, good-feet-and-leg bulls, or ones that make daughters that produce more milk or milk solids.

Farmers may still choose to use bulls. However, they make sure to use correctly sized bulls and manage them appropriately to minimize the above risks.

The bottom line is that artificial insemination is a safe and humane technology that has been used for a long time to improve the safety, genetics, and health of animals. It is not abuse.

Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is a farmer, public speaker and writer who has worked for years with row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.

Wanted to say a quick thank you to all the peeps (yeah, I just said peeps, it’s like we’re back in 2001) who have emailed me and messaged me asking about our dear Kula girl. The ‘ol hussy is doing well.

As goes Kula’s saga, many of you are aware that we’ve had to make the decision to artificially inseminate her, after her vacation with ‘ol Wallace didn’t quite turn out as we planned.

We gave Kula her first shot of prostoglandin last week. She will receive a second shot 12 days after the initial shot. This causes her to enter into a predictable heat cycle. Once we know *when* she will ovulate, we can time the insemination appropriately.

Here’s a super easy breakdown:
Day One: First injection of prostoglandin
Day Twelve: Second injection of prostoglandin
Day Fifteen: Artificially inseminate cow
Day Sixteen: Artificially inseminate cow again

Even though she hasn’t had a problem coming into heat on her own, with having only one cow, it’s been a little difficult to predict exactly when that will be. Giving her the injections will allow us to know (ideally) the exact time that she will ovulate. This will increases our chances of success in breeding her. It’s typical to inseminate a cow two days in a row. Bull semen can survive in a cow’s body for up to seven days – but a cow’s egg will only live for 24 hours. Injecting sperm two days in a row helps to catch the egg as soon as it’s dropped from the ovary. After the insemination, all we can do is pray for success.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Milk = the happiest homesteader in the world.

We will be breeding her to a Jersey bull. I was able to source semen from Select Sires who was wonderful to work with. They are sending two straws of semen ($18 each) in a nitrogen tank that will keep the semen frozen for 12-14 days. This enables to us to receive it a few days prior to her insemination date. We also purchased an A.I. gun that will be used to deposit the semen for $20. We’ll keep this on hand for future breedings. Learning about this artificial insemination process and breeding Kula has given us a great chance to get to know our sweet cow prior to having to engage in the (no doubt) intimate relationship of milk-giver and milker.

And for other potential cow-owners out there, I thought I would breakdown a few of the tips and lessons that I’ve learned thus far:

1. A cow is like a dog. It needs attention. It needs to be scratched. It needs to be groomed. It needs to be loved on. Kula’s personality has completely changed since we received advice to start treating her as if she was a dog – she is now sweet, docile, and (although a bit spunky) non-aggressive. Cow’s are such large animals that it’s a bit difficult to get over the initial fear of just being around such a massive creature and knowing the potential pain it could easily inflict on you – and no doubt, it’s good to be smart, alert, and attentive while around them. But it’s also important to not act fearful and to treat your cow as if it was a family pet – because (at least for dairy cows) that’s very true.

2. Grooming = love. More than anything else, this has build our relationship with Kula to one that is good for both of us. When she sees us bring out the comb, she literally runs across the field to get to us. And quite gracefully, I might add. Considering she’s 1,000 pounds.

3. Expect to feed about 30 pounds of good, high-quality hay per day. It may be more (if you have a larger breed of dairy cow) or slightly less (if you have a miniature breed) but we’ve found this advice to pretty much be right on the money. Three flakes in the morning. Three flakes in the evening. We’ll plant pasture in the fall for next spring, so hopefully we’ll be able to cut our feed bill significantly by grazing her from June – November. Right now, we pay about $6 a bale for high-quality alfalfa hay and each bale lasts us about 2 1/2 days.

4. Have pasture. Even though it’s totally possible to raise cattle on hay, this is expensive and not nearly as much fun. Since we’ve finished fencing off the pasture we built for Kula last week, she’s been having a great time grazing, chewing her cud, and bedding down in the tall grass. There isn’t a ton for her to eat out there right now, but she still enjoys munching on the weeds and roaming the hillside. Getting to see a cow acting like a normal cow is a beautiful thing. I could watch her graze for hours.

5. Make sure you provide the cow with a salt/mineral lick. Cows need all their minerals, just like humans. It ain’t rocket science.

I suppose that’s all my lessons thus far… Oh… here’s another:

6. Get the bull semen tested before you feed him for six weeks. Make sure his swimmers work. Otherwise, he’s a freeloader. I totally should have thought about this before…

A day older and a lesson wiser. It’s totally my new motto.

– Artificial Insemination of the Mare is not a difficult task to perform. Here we describe using an aseptic technique in detail.

The actual process of artificial insemination of the mare is not complicated, and can be learned very quickly. Unlike artificial insemination in cattle which involves guiding the insemination pipette through the cervix via manipulation per rectum, equine AI is carried out completely vaginally. The equine rectum is not as durable as a bovines’, and it is for this reason that rectal palpation by the lay person is not encouraged by most veterinarians and teaching facilities.

In countries where international movement of cooled semen is easily achieved, all necessary health status documentation should be reviewed prior to insemination, and universally it is important to ensure that accompanying paperwork and/or semen identification confirms the identity of the stallion as being the correct one booked to breed the mare about to be inseminated – collection and shipping mix-ups do happen!! Well-organized stallion farms will place the name of the stallion in many places on the shipment – on the outer container, on accompanying paperwork and on the semen container – a syringe, centrifuge tube or plastic bag – itself. This certainly assists the mare owner or their veterinarian, and reduces the risk of mix-ups.

The mare is washed using surgical scrub technique

Withdrawing the semen using aseptic technique

The tip of the pipette is help in the palm…

… with the thumb protecting the pipette opening

Inseminating – note that the arm is not very far into the mare.

It should be noted that while care and caution if of obvious importance with artificial insemination of the mare, being too slow – particularly when introducing the hand into the mare – can result in the mare becoming fractious and irritated. Consider how rapidly the stallion introduces his penis when breeding, and one will appreciate that the mare is more naturally conditioned to rapidity than tardiness!

Performing artificial insemination of the mare is the easiest part of the artificial breeding process. In the US, it is typically not regulated if it is being done on one’s own mares, or those of one’s employer. Indeed, in most states and Canadian Provinces, it is considered an “exempt procedure” under Veterinary Practice Acts. There are however exceptions, and in other countries – notably the EU and UK – it requires successful completion of an approved training course and issuance of an exemption in order to be able to legally inseminate mares. We offer such a DEFRA-approved course periodically in the UK, and this is outlined elsewhere on our site. The important point therefore, is to confirm legality specific to your own location before performing AI.

If you would like to learn more about the IAEA’s work, sign up for our weekly updates containing our most important news, multimedia and more.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

Benin is among a growing number of developing countries making use of various nuclear and isotopic technologies to support genetic selection procedures and improve the gene pool of its livestock. (Photo: M. Shamsuddin/IAEA)

For the first time, the government of Benin is introducing artificial insemination in cattle. At its new bull station and semen laboratory inaugurated in August this year in Parakou, a region in central Benin with the largest livestock population, scientists have so far produced more than 2000 doses of frozen semen and carried out more than 200 artificial inseminations.

Benin is among a growing number of developing countries making use of various nuclear and isotopic technologies to support genetic selection procedures and improve the gene pool of its livestock. The IAEA, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has supported Benin’s efforts through expertise, training and equipment.

Benin’s economy relies heavily on agriculture, which provides substantial rural employment and income arising primarily from subsistence farming. After cotton, mixed crop or livestock is the major agricultural activity, the livestock subsector representing nearly 13% of GDP.

The country’s indigenous cattle are naturally small and milk production is often just enough to feed a calf. Historically, cattle production was aimed at meat production, but with economic growth and a rising population the demand for milk has increased, driving the government to prioritise milk production.

In 2014, the country’s Milk and Meat Sectors Support Project, or PAFILAV, imported 200 pregnant Girolando heifers to its national herd. Girolando is a dairy cattle breed created in Brazil by crossing Gyr cattle, which is resistant to hot temperatures and tropical diseases, with Holstein cattle. To satisfy demand from farmers who also wanted better cattle, the PAFILAV imported 1000 doses of semen from four dairy breeds: Girolando, Gyr, Montbéliarde and Tarentaise.

A second semen laboratory is now being developed at the University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) to provide liquid semen. This will not only strengthen education on animal reproduction at the university but will also help serving farmers in neighbouring villages by providing them with a breeding service.

Preventing losses from drought and increasing farmer income

Farmers in Benin are constantly challenged with limited feed resources during the dry season, which is between November and March. Animals lose body weight, and meat and milk production is reduced. As a result, farmers loose income.

Cattle with improved genetics can inherently produce more meat and milk than local breeds — but also requires better feed to meet its genetic potential. To address this issue, the UAC analysed locally-available feed resources, including various crop residues, and came up with feeds that result in higher livestock productivity and increased incomes to the farmers.

How to artificially inseminate cows and heifers

The new feeding system was introduced on several sheep farms in the Bembèrekè district of northern Benin. It incorporates crop residues like groundnut haulms. This has not only prevented the loss of body weight among the sheep but resulted in an average gain of 0.6 kg. In contrast, sheep on conventional feed lost up to 1.6 kg during a 28-day dry-season trial period. And rather than losing the usual USD 2.6 to USD 5.2 per sheep during these 28 days, farmer incomes actually increased by USD 2 per sheep.

After this success, the UAC team believed they could do even better. In a field trial in Glazoué in central Benin they fed sheep on multi-nutrients blocks (MNB) with local crop residue nutrients. During a 3.5 month trial, these MNB-fed sheep gained 71 g a day, compared to the control group that gained only 20 g a day. The MNB-fed sheep increased their weight by an average of 4.9 kg. In contrast, control sheep only gained 1.4 kg. Again this was translated into additional farmer incomes of USD 12.3 per sheep.

The UAC also developed a concentrates mix based on its own laboratory analysis data and compared it with a concentrates mix commercially available on the market. In sheep-feeding trials, the UAC-developed concentrates mix resulted in an average daily body weight gain of 77 g, against the 67 g of the commercial mix.

The UAC team has demonstrated similar benefits with calves and lactating cows on their institutional farms, and are now planning similar pilot trials on private farms, expecting to demonstrate also here substantial economic benefits to farmers.

The animal nutrition laboratory at the UAC has also benefited from its partnership with the IAEA and FAO, especially through the receipt of equipment, including a near-infrared spectroscopy system for advanced animal feed analysis with the highest level of precision, as well as training and expert advice, which enabled the UAC to introduce its first Master of Science (MSc) course on ‘Feed Resources and Animal Nutrition’ in the 2017/18 academic year, with both local students and students from neighbouring countries enrolling.

The IAEA also funded a lecturer to reinforce the MSc course and contribute to the development of course modules. The animal nutrition laboratory has now received additional funding from Benin’s government to develop a national feed resources database that is expected to further increase the productivity of livestock and the income of farmers — the backbone of Benin’s economy.

The UAC and the PAFILAV are now working hand-in-hand to further strengthen their capacities in local feed resources and feed optimization coupled with improved artificial insemination services to sustainably enhance livestock productivity in Benin.

About the Bovine Artificial Insemination Training

Iowa State University is proud to offer a hands-on artificial insemination training class to the public. This training will be beneficial to individuals interested in increasing the efficiency and profitability of their cattle operation through the use of artificial insemination.

The ISU Artificial Insemination Training Class is a three-day course and is taught by Genex/CRI Instructors. Each day of the course will consist of classroom sessions and hands-on live practice with cows.

Individuals who take the class should expect to learn:

  • Basic anatomy of the female reproductive system in cattle.
  • Basic technique of artificial insemination.
  • Process of handling and thawing frozen semen.
  • Basics of the estrous cycle and synchronization.
  • Heat detection systems.

The Iowa State University Beef Teaching Farm and the Iowa State Dairy Farm provide the cows for the class, as well as equipment and gloves needed for A.I. training. Individuals participating in the class should dress accordingly, as palpation of cattle will take place daily.

Included in the price of the class is a $200 Genex semen credit and a starter AI Kit (2 AI Guns, Thaw Unit, Scissor, Tweezers, 2 pack of sheaths, 1 box of breeding gloves, and lube). Kit valued at $120 and will be provided during the training.

Location: 4006 Zumwalt Station Road, Ames, Iowa 50014

Cost: $1,000 (Payment will be made on the first day of class & cannot be paid with debit or credit – cash or check only)

Class Sizes: 15 Maximum

Upcoming Trainings – Registration opens December 3, 2021 at 8:00 am central time

  • Session 1: December 13-15, 2021
    • December 13th, 9 am to 4 pm
    • December 14th, 9 am to 4 pm
    • December 15th, 9 am to noon
  • Session 2: December 15-17, 2021
    • December 15th, 1 pm to 5 pm
    • December 16th, 9 am to 4 pm
    • December 17th, 9 am to 4 pm

Please note, submitting this form does not guarantee a seat in this class. We will send you a confirmation email once you receive a seat. Please provide your session preference, however we cannot guarantee a spot in your preferred session. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. We will post when all seats are full. You will be notified of your status within 3 days following the registration opening.

Boosting Agriculture Through Partnership, Investment and Technology Transfer

I had an exciting Saturday morning this past weekend at my friends farm in Sentlhane, where He was administrating AI on his cattle.

Advanced farming practices like AI is used to improve herd genetics – this method can also be effective for communal farmers especially when facing bull-related issues such as sexually transmitted diseases, as well as many others.

In addition, if a proper breeding season is followed, a bull is used for only about two months of the year, so using AI saves money and grazing.

When choosing genetics to select from a bull catalogue in order purchase your semen, it’s vital to know which characteristics you are looking for e.g. ease of calving, good feed conversion, and adaptability to the tough environment. Especially in areas where it can be dry and hot, so this should be priority.

Artificial insemination (AI) is one of the most effective tools available to cattle producers to improve productivity and profitability of their cattle operation.

AI is not just for purebred breeders, but it has many benefits for the commercial cattle producer. The advantages of using AI are numerous and well documented. Some of them include:

  1. The ability to use sires of superior genetic merit (the best bulls of the breed).
  2. Improving production traits in cattle operation.
  3. The ability to mate specific sires to individual cows.
  4. Reducing the number of herd bulls needed in cattle operation.
  5. Increased genetics for replacement heifers; and when combined with estrous synchronization, a shorter calving season can be achieved, resulting in a more consistent, uniform calf crop.
  6. For the commercial cattleman, this could mean increased weaning weights, improved post-weaning performance, enhanced carcass value and more productive replacement heifers.

In a nut shell, I urge cattle farmers to consider AI in the near future.

For further info, you can Download the following PDF guide Breed Improvement and Fertility Management Training Manual and Guideline now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.

Rwanda is in the process of setting up a national artificial insemination (AI) center which is expected to help increase the country’s beef production in terms of milk and beef yields.

The AI ​​center is being constructed at the Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) Songa Station in Huye District, Southern Province.

It will be an internationally recognized centre, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources. The ministry said it is expected to complete its first phase by the end of this year (2022) at a cost of RWF 1.5 billion.

The ministry said it will produce bovine semen from high genetic merit bulls of different breeds, which will be used to support the Rwandan government’s breed improvement programme.

Solange Uwituze, deputy director general for animal resources research and technology transfer at RAB, told The New Times that the AI ​​center will also help produce and store embryos and provide animal transfer services. embryos. [for cattle production].

The centre, she said, will have two main components – the management of bulls of high genetic merit and a laboratory for the production, processing, packaging and storage of semen.

“The rationale for establishing the AI ​​center is to produce quality and genetically superior germplasm and ensure its rapid dissemination, faster bovine genetic improvement and conservation in Rwanda,” he said. she declared.

Germplasm is the genetic makeup of a species used for breeding or conservation purposes.

Regarding its impact on the Rwandan livestock sector, Uwituze said, the center will bring biodiversity of genes and different types of cattle breeds; availability of semen for dairy and beef cattle as well.

According to RAB information, it has the capacity to accommodate 60 bulls, while 30 bulls can yield about 16,000 semen straws per week. [enough to artificially inseminate 16,000 cows].

It will support partnership and exchanges with other international AI centers in research. Also, it will help in the creation of private breeders associations (for each breed) and the exchange of superior genetics.

There has been the issue of low conception rates in artificially inseminated cattle, which has been a concern for cattle breeders.

Meanwhile, a September 2019 study titled Artificial Insemination Adoption and Success Rate in Dairy Cattle in Rwanda found that the conception rate of heifers in 12 districts in Rwanda increased from 53.2% in 2017 to 71.4% in 2018, while that of cows increased from 79.7% in 2017 to 78.4% in 2018.

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Rwanda is setting up a national artificial insemination (AI) centre expected to help increase the country’s cattle production in terms of milk and beef yields.

The AI Centre is being constructed at Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB)’s Songa station in Huye District, Southern Province.

It will be a recognised center at International level, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources. The Ministry indicated it is expected that its first phase will be completed by the end of this year (2022) at a cost of Rwf1.5 billion.

The Ministry said it will produce bovine semen from high genetic merit bulls of different breeds which will be used to support the Government of Rwanda’s breed improvement programme.

Solange Uwituze, Deputy Director General in charge of Animal Resources Research and Technology Transfer at RAB told The New Times that the AI centre will also help to produce and conserve embryos and provide embryo transfer services [for cattle production].

The center, she said, will have two main components – management of high genetic merit bulls and a laboratory for production, processing, packaging and storage of semen.

“The rationale for establishment of the AI center is to produce quality and genetically superior germplasm and to ensure its fast dissemination, faster bovine genetic improvement and conservation in Rwanda,” she said.

Germplasm is the genetic makeup of a species used for breeding or conservation purposes.

Regarding its impact on the Rwandan livestock sector, Uwituze said, the center will bring a biodiversity of genes and different types of cattle breeds; availability of semen for dairy cattle and beef as well.

According to information from RAB, it has the capacity to accommodate 60 bulls, while 30 bulls can give around 16,000 semen straws per week [enough to artificially inseminate 16,000 cows].

It will support partnership and exchange with other international AI centers in terms of research. Also, it will help the creation of private breeder associations (for each breed) and exchange of superior genetics.

There has been the issue of low conception rate in artificially inseminated cattle, which has been a concern for livestock breeders.

Meanwhile, a September 2019 study titled Adoption of Artificial Insemination and Success Rate in Dairy Cattle in Rwanda revealed that the conception rate of heifers in 12 districts of Rwanda increased from 53.2 percent in 2017 to 71.4 percent in 2018, while that of cows decreased from 79.7 percent in 2017 to 78.4 percent in 2018.

The study was led by RAB in collaboration with the Rwanda dairy development project (RDDP).

Uwituze said that the low conception rate is due to different factors, pointing out that nutrition, metabolic diseases, reproduction health, heat detection, insemination practices by the inseminator and climate could influence the success rate of artificial insemination.

“In a farm with good practices in management of cows, the success rate can be maximum. Efforts are being put in the whole value chain to improve the success of AI,” she said.

She said that the quantity of milk produced in Rwanda in the fiscal year 2020-2021 was 891,326 tonnes, whereas the target was over 1 million tonnes under the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) by 2024.

Rwanda’s cattle population is estimated at 1.3 million, of which 41 percent are local breeds, 16 percent pure exotic breeds and 43 percent crossbreeds as of 2019, according to data from RAB. Meanwhile, Uwituze said that the cattle registration being done countrywide will give the actual figure.

Artificial insemination is credited for genetic improvement in cattle, which results in increased productivity both in milk and meat. And, genetic improvement has proven to be beneficial in terms of milk production. Uwituze said that an improved lactating cow produces, on average, 7.5 litres of milk per day, while a local cow produces an average of 1.5 litres of milk per day.