Bovine Artificial Insemination Information

Farm Stock From Test Tubes

Texas Longhorn cattle breeders might find this article interesting.  Artificial breeding has not changed much, but our understanding and use of synchronization protocols has made Artificial Insemination success more predictable.  I believe proper heat detection is the single most important component to successful Artificial Insemination.  Please contact us if you would like to talk about the benefits of AI for your cattle program.

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Farm Stock From Test Tubes
By G. W. Salisbury (November 1946)

 


     A cow in heat has the very Old Nick in her.  She bawls, throws her weight about and jumps
fences.  Until a few years ago the sight of a couple of men trying to drive a cow down a
country road to the nearest bull was a common sight.  There she was serviced for the
traditional fee of one dollar and the owner prayed that he wouldn't have to repeat the
performance in three weeks.  The proximity of the bull, rather than his breeding, was
paramount.
     The result was a steadily deteriorating brand of livestock.
     In course of time, this periodic chore of the small farmer will become increasingly rare.  He
now has recourse to a modern and thoroughly scientific service that he can bring to his farm
by a telephone call.
     This is artificial insemination.
     Probably no recent development in the entire agricultural field has created more interest
than has artificial insemination.  Expanding from a modest beginning in New Jersey and
New York in 1938, the cooperative program of breeding dairy cows by artificial insemination
has increased to the point where farmer-owned organizations are breeding probably as many
as a quarter of a million cows by this means this year.
     During one recent month, nearly 500 cows were artificially bred to one bull in the state of
New York.  Under natural service this same bull would undoubtedly have bred less than 100
cows in an active year.  On the average dairy farm in that state he would probably have been
bred to fewer than 25 cows a year.  Already there are bulls in active artificial service that have
sired 1,500 calves.
     If the technical developments continue in this field at a rate comparable to that of the past
six years, it is not too much to expect that, in the future, some bulls may be bred to several
thousand cows each year.  This technique of dairy cattle breeding has an enormous potential
for good.  A bull requires 27 bushels of corn 500 pounds of supplement and two tons of hay
per year to keep him in good condition.  The cost of this feed will cover the insemination fees
for a large herd of cows.  If a bull is kept to service a small herd, the farmer is out of pocket.
     In its simplest terms, the technique of artificial insemination of dairy cows is not a
particularly difficult process.  In its particulars--in those things which make it successful and
useful--it is a complicated and technical business.
    Briefly, the semen, containing the male sperm cells or spermatozoa, is collected from the bull at periodic intervals by means of a semen collector.  The process is entirely natural, and in the hands of a good operator, is not harmful to the bull.
     The semen is examined by trained technicians, diluted with suitable diluting fluids, and prepared for transportation to the farm or for shipment to some distant point.
     Cows in estrus, or heat, are inseminated with the diluted semen by means of a small-bore glass or compostion tube directly into the reproductive tract.  The diluted semen is usually introduced into the uterus or the passage opening in this organ.  The tube is guided into the passage by a variety of means.  In the hands of a good inseminator remarkably successful results have been obtained.
     When the experimenters have discovered a way to keep semen indefinitely, when it can be stored in the family icebox and used when needed, then the privately owned bull will pass out of the picture.  A few lessons from an expert inseminator should be sufficient to teach the cow owner how to do the job of insemination.
     The results of artificial breeding solely from the standpoint of its effectiveness in getting cows safely with calf are variable.  There are so many factors which may influence the results that the wonder is that cows ever conceive by artificial breeding.  However, good technicians using the semen of highly fertile bulls in herds where disease was not a controlling factor have obtained results entirely similar to the results obtained under these circumstances with natural service.
     Provided the variable human equation is eliminated, results are about what they would be in natural service.  Records on some herds show most cows conceiving on first service, in others many breedings are necessary, and sometimes conception never results.
     Records kept since 1938 in New York show that the results have gradually improved with the years, as the inseminators, the dairymen, and others concerned have gained in experience.  During the past two or three years, between 50 to 60 percent of the cows bred have conceived on first service.  These data include literally hundreds of herds and many inseminators.
     The cow owner must be alert to catch the cow as she is coming into heat, and to report it promptly.  The period during which the cow will conceive varies as does the length of the period.  The signs are unmistakable.  The cow bawls, becomes excited and jittery, eats little, and urinates a great deal.  She rushes about as if she is looking for something, as she indeed is.
     Looking at the results from the standpoint of the kind of calves produced it can be said that they are just what would be expected from such parents.  The calves are neither better nor worse than would have been expected from the same parents through natural service.  If the bull is fertile there will just be more of them!
     As far as the writer is aware, no calves from artificial service have ever been born with glass legs, nor have they, as cows, produced milk already bottled because their mothers were scared by a test-tube.
     It is apparent that for wide use, such as is the case with artificial breeding, that while purebred sires should be used, they must be carefully selected to do their job.  Mistakes in the selection of bulls will prove costly.  Bulls which decrease the average production of a herd are the expensive bulls because they reduce farm income.
     It is imperative that the records of production used as a basis for selecting breeding bulls be made under conditions similar to the conditions on the farms where the bulls are to be used.  Forced records of production give information on the transmitting ability of dairy animals which must be greatly deflated before it can be applied to conditions on average dairy farms.
     Dairy farmers must pay more attention to the proving of their own bulls.  Constructive programs for aiding the dairymen in this difficult venture will have to be established in the areas where artificial insemination is to be used.
     Today, far to little effort is expended in this direction and many of the bulls now in use in artificial insemination are not good enough.  Herein rests a great opportunity for the well established large breeding establishment that produces good breeding males.
     However, the fact that the bulls will be bred to so many more cows than would normally be the case will prove without much doubt just what that bull is capable of doing.  Such careful scrutinizing of breeding bulls will tend to weed out many counterfeits.  The weeding process should be done before a poor bull has done irreparable damage.
     The results of artificial breeding in cooperative, farmer-owned organizations from the standpoint of financial success or failure has been just as variable as the human beings directing it.  Some Cooperatives have flopped dismally due to business mismanagement, to the use of unsatisfactory bulls, to the inability of the inseminator to get the cows in calf because the semen had deteriorated, the cow was not in heat, or the clumsiness of the inseminator.
     The cost of membership varies from $5 to $25 with refunds if the association prospers.  Fees for service range from $5 up with smaller amounts for second and third service for the same cow.
     Other organizations have weathered the trials of early growth in a satisfactory manner and are operating within their income.  There was a tendency on the part of too many such organizations to start operations with insufficient working capital and too few cows signed to be artificially bred.
     Artificial insemination has been successfully tried in other classes of stock, as well as dairy cattle.  In specialized cases artificial breeding has been used in the breeding of beef cattle even under range conditions.  It is possible that it may have more application than it has been given.
     The question is often asked as to what groups or interests were opposed to artificial insemination with dairy cattle.  No organized or widespread opposition to the practice has ever existed in this country.  Certainly some breeders, some dealers, some veterinarians, some breed association men, some agricultural journalists, some professors in the colleges and some others did express opposition to it.  No group or interest however was unanimous in its opinion, nor was any campaign waged against it.  Rather, the converse was true.  Probably no technique in dairy cattle breeding was more universally backed than was artificial insemination, but the claims for it have far out-reached what it was able to do.  After all, its just another way of mating two animals, and while more cows can be bred with a single service than is possible with natural service, it has no other important virtues.
     Because artificial insemination has within it potentialities for good by multiplying the value of a sire able to transmit proper type and high yields of milk and fat, it also has potentialities for harm.  Picture, if you will, the harm that could result from the widespread artificial use of a sire that transmitted some dread disease.  Or, imagine the result if a bull were used to breed thousands of cows that decreased fat production of his daughters fifty or more pounds below the level of their dams.
     Artificial insemination on a broad scale carries with it not only opportunity, but responsibility.



Here are a few examples of what we have produced utilizing Artificial Insemination in the Texas Longhorn cattle industry.

Artificial Insemination Texas Longhorn Bull
Sired by Awesome Viagra


Sired by Shadowizm

 

Texas longhorn bull
Sired by PCC Evader

Texas Long-horn calf
Sired by Hondo

 

     

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Please email Texas Longhorn Cattle questions to: dean@k9cow.com

K9 BRAND Cattle Co.
Dean & Barb Colley
550 Camino De Rancho
Wimberley, TX. 78676

512-848-2592
 

last updated 12/10/13

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