My wife has worked in the artificial insemination (AI) industry for well over a decade, an amazing feat considering she’s only 29. As a result of that experience, she has numerous worksheets and reams of real world data that indicate what it should cost to AI a set of cows. Using these numbers, AI makes tremendous sense from a cost standpoint, a herd improvement standpoint, and from a uniformity and marketing view.
That said, however, the last several years, I’ve had to take it upon myself to show her the real cost of AI. There are just a whole host of things for which her spreadsheets don’t account. For instance, nowhere in her projections does she account for the need to have an expensive cutting horse to bring hot cows in.
Nor do her figures include the necessity of covering the chute. She also didn’t factor in the reduced conception rate created when dad and the kids had to practice cutting with those heifers while they were heat.
In addition, she didn’t calculate the cost of having to put in CIDRs twice in order to work around the horse show schedule that became a necessity with the new horse. Somehow, she doesn’t believe the six hours of last-minute trips meeting semen salesman in little towns to pick up the 10 units of bull X that we forgot to order should be included either.
Then there is the cost of blood-typing 30 calves, which became a necessity when a crazy tomcat that was locked in the AI barn shredded two pages of records. And she flat out refuses to charge the AI project for all the expensive ideas I come up with while riding along checking heat. She even said no, when I tried to add in the cost of the chiropractor bill.
In exasperation, I explained to her that we had to have accurate enterprise accounting if we were going to be able to make good decisions; she agreed and this is what I got back.
Out-of-pocket cost of an AI pregnancy – $83/cow, the additional cost of incompetent management – $112/cow! Good manager that I am, I studied the breakdown and had to agree the numbers were right, but I made two final management decisions.
• Since we can’t get our money back out of the horse right now, we’d better keep him 5-10 years to allow the horse market to improve.
• I put her in charge of the whole darn AI program next year. After all you can’t blame the help you can only blame the manager.