It’s that time of year again — time to start thinking about heat detecting, synchronizing, and breeding cows! The decisions you make now will impact your ranch for years to come, and success or failure in artificially inseminating (AI) cows comes down to the tiniest details.
We don’t start to AI cows until May, but now is a good time to get organized, purchase supplies and prepare for plenty of heat detecting and running cows through the chute. Before the breeding season gets underway, it’s a good time to clean out and organize your AI kit.
Here are 13 things every box needs to successfully breed cows:
- AI gun
- Long plastic gloves
- Thaw unit
- Water thermos
- Straw cutter
- Breeding calendar for writing down dates, sires, and other important notes
- Semen inventory list (my husband uses the CattleVisions app on his cell phone)
- Semen tank (filled regularly to keep the semen viable)
- Semen (obviously)
To improve your conception rate, it’s also important to control other factors such as the cows’ body condition score, any stress (mud, overworking her getting to the chute, etc.), and timing of breeding.
If heat detecting, consider placing markers on the tailheads to help alert you to standing heat. Another option is a gomer bull.
If following a synchronized breeding protocol, consider the timing, cost and labor (how many times they’ll need to be worked through a chute), and discuss your options closely with a veterinarian or nutritionist to help determine which option might be the most successful.
Another popular option preferred by many is the investment in a breeding box, which allows two cows to be bred at the same time in a dark chute where they don’t bounce around or get worked up. This could help in shortening the labor time in breeding a large group of synchronized cows, plus it could improve conception rates.
Good luck to everyone who plans to AI cows this year. With a little planning and hard work, the factors for breeding success can line up in your favor.
What other things would you add to your AI toolkit? What other tips for success would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.
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