Tips for creating successful AI program shared
Dan Busch of Select Sires Inc., discusses several management practices producers need to consider in order to have a successful artificial insemination (AI) season.
Busch shares his knowledge in several different areas, including equation of reproduction, cattle facilities, pregnancy weights and body conditions, growth promoting reproductive tract implants and scores, in addition to several other considerations.
Equation of reproduction
Busch explains reproduction is a systems approach. Several factors which may affect the overall success of the synchronization within AI programs include estrus response, inseminator efficiency, herd fertility and semen fertility.
Busch provides several examples and discusses each synchronization factor. In one he shares, if estrus response is 100 percent and multiplied by an inseminator efficiency of 90 percent, herd fertility at 90 percent and semen fertility at 90 percent, this will equal an overall success rate of 73 percent.
If inseminator efficiency drops below 50 percent, this will greatly affect the overall success score, he adds.
“Producers can see a pretty drastic reduction in the overall success rate if any of these factors are affected,” Busch says.
Busch notes it is important to consider cattle facilities during the AI process. Producers should be able to gather cattle in a reasonable and efficient timeframe, keep cattle calm and work them consistently, he shares.
“It can make life a lot easier if there are facilities to get this task accomplished,” he says. “If operations don’t have anything specific to AI, there are a few tweaks, additions or changes here and there, which can be really beneficial as far as the flow of cattle through the facility.”
Producers can look at obtaining portable corrals, alley ways, chutes or an AI barn, Busch notes.
“A lot of these are investments either farmers or ranchers make or investments that companies have invested in to make this process a little simpler and easier,” says Busch. “Anything causing stress to a cow in this process will affect the overall result and the success of the AI program.”
Pregnancy weights and body condition
Pregnancy weights are also a determining factor when looking at the success of an AI season.
“Ideally, producers should look for 80 to 95 percent of their heifers conceiving during a 60-day breeding season to be good candidates for an AI program,” Busch says.
He continues, “If producers are struggling to get 75 to 80 percent of their heifers bred in what I would call a controlled 60- to 80-day breeding season, there’s probably some other things they need to address or restart the synchronization program before starting an AI program.”
In a synchronization program, producers will need to evaluate body conditions scores at calving and prior to calving, as well as at or right before the artificial synchronization program.
“Ideally, we want to see cows in the five, six and seven body condition score range,” says Busch.
Reproductive tract health
“There’s data out there which shows growth promoting implants can affect reproductive development and the physiological maturity of heifers implanted at a young age,” explains Busch.
While heifers may look normal physically, their reproductive tract may not be fully developed, he says.
“Reproductive tract scores are done by rectally palpating the uterus and ovaries to evaluate reproductive development maturity,” says Busch, noting a reproductive tract score of a four or five would indicate heifers have started cycling.
Producers can use estrogen detection patches, neck collar base systems or ear tag systems to get an idea of how many heifers are cycling before the synchronization program begins.
“Ideally, producers like to see 50 percent or more of heifers cycling before you start a synchronization program,” he adds.
Busch recommends producers use an a.m./p.m. rule when using estrus detection.
“If females are standing in estrus in the morning, they would be inseminated in the evening and if females are standing in estrus in the evening, they would be inseminated the following morning,” says Busch.
He also notes one of the biggest considerations producers should consider is to keep the AI supplies clean, organized and maintained.
In addition, crew members working the cattle need to be capable of handling the task at hand. He notes those fresh out of AI school should start on smaller groups of cattle.
“If you just finished an AI class, I would recommend trying your hand at synchronizing and AI’ing a group of 10 to 15 cows to make sure you’re competent and confident in your skills,” Busch says.
Additionally, it is important to consider straw storage and straw size. Straws should be kept in a well-maintained liquid nitrogen tank.
When making sire selections, Busch recommends producers do their homework and get as much information as possible.
“The breeding decisions producers make today are the breeding decisions they will see within the next 10 years,” he says.
Lastly, Busch notes, “Keep records, as they allow producers to troubleshoot any issues and evaluate their results, plan ahead, keep things consistent as possible following AI and reach out to the industry and university professionals to ask questions.”
Information in this article was sources from an Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Online Convention session held Oct. 11, 2021.
Brittany Gunn is the editor at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.