Artificial Insemination is the process where fresh or frozen semen, of your choice, is deposited through the cervix of the female by a trained specialist.
Advantages of Artificial Insemination (AI):
- You can reduce the number of bulls maintained in your herd.
- The farmer is able to use sires of superior genetics, without necessarily owning the bull
- AI increases the rate of production.
- You can mate specific sires to individual cows.
- Genetics for replacement heifers can be improved.
- With estrous synchronization you also get a shorter calving season, resulting in a more uniform and consistent group of calves.
- AI also prevents the spread of certain diseases.
- Decreased inter-calve period.
AI through a synchronized hormone program allows us, or the farmer, to AI on a set time. The program makes use of a progestin releasing device, a luteolytic agent, an estrogen and pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin (PMSG) to ensure that the animal is ready to receive semen at a specific time.
Factors influencing the success of AI:
- The experience of the inseminator.
- Semen quality – With frozen semen, it is important to know the collection center. Make sure that the semen was evaluated before and after freezing, to know the ability of the semen to fertilize. Then with fresh semen, if collected on farm, the collector should evaluate the semen to make sure the quality is of usable sort. It is always good to evaluate semen again after long or unknown storage. Make sure to have backup stock ready, if one bull has poor semen quality.
- Fertility – it is important to select a fertile group of females for AI. Animals that show activity and cycle regularly and had no trouble getting pregnant previously.
- Age – age plays the biggest role in terms of heifers bred for the first time. At first breeding heifers should weigh two thirds of their expected adult weight. Females that have only calved once, are difficult to get pregnant again and should be considered with care before selecting for AI.
- Breed – with AI breed plays a role in the sense of semen selection. Make sure to select a bull that breed calves that a female can easily calve to avoid dystocia. Also, more adapted and handled animals, appear to have better conception rates with AI than more temperamental groups of animals.
- Body condition score (BCS) – body condition is scored from a 1 to 5, with 1 being lowest and 5 the highest. It is important to score the body condition so that feeding can be adapted to get the group in optimal condition. Females should be in a rising condition state for optimal conception rates. Body condition of 2.5 or 3 is favoured.
- Facilities – handling facilities is preferred to be neat and enable easy handling on the day of AI to ensure as little stress on the animals as possible.
- Environment – the weather has a major effect on conception as extreme weather condition may cause stress. Here it is important to manage environmental factors, but it is not always possible. For instance, with low temperatures, extra feed should be fed to supply required nutrients for heat production.
- Season – it is best to do AI during natural mating season depending on personal breeding objectives.
- Management – firstly management of animal health, feeding and body condition, secondly proper handling and movement to reduce stress and thirdly managing the synchronisation program to be flawless.
Females selected for an AI program, should be inspected before the synchronisation starts. This is to ensure not accidental pregnant animals enter the program and to be certain that the cow or heifer is ready to mate.
In most cases, all animals prepared, are inseminated on the given day. Pregnant animals that was prepared, might abort, but either way will not be used. If an animal is not used on the day of AI, the inseminator should inform the farmer of the reason and what process to follow their after.
Artificial insemination has a success rate of 60% to 80%. Conception is dependent on all factors mentioned.
At Absolute Genetics our Veterinarian or trained technician is available for AI on your farm. We also have an AI course that you can attend, if you wish to do AI yourself.