Technical information - Reproduction

Planing AI Programs

From Beeftalk

No 6, Spring 1998

Artificial insemination (AI) is being increasingly used on south east Queensland beef properties.

The reasons for its use are varied, however, mainly it is used as a cost effective method of introducing superior or new genetics into a breeding herd.

Whilst the actual artificial insemination routine is relatively easy to master, some AI programs achieve less than satisfactory results. In most cases this is due to poor planning of the AI program. For AI to be successful it is vital that detailed planning is undertaken commencing at least six months before the program.

A summary of the planning steps is:

1. Check the feasibility of the planned program. There must be definite reasons and benefits for attempting a program. Consider whether these can be achieved more easily and cheaply by other methods.

2. Determine the best time to attempt the program. Consider the availability of feed and labour; the farm work load; and existing animal husbandry practices such as calving patterns, weaning times to see if these will be compatible with the program’s implementation. Also avoid times of environmental stress such as periods of extreme heat or cold.

3. Determine the type of program to be undertaken (i.e., natural or synchronised and what type of synchronisation method to use).

4. Make provisions for suitable paddocks to house the breeding herd for observation. Consider paddock location and size, shape, feed and water. If supplementary feeding is needed, order it or provide it ahead of time. Cows should be fed sufficiently so that they are gaining weight for six weeks before and six weeks after the program, to ensure maximum calf drop.

5. Select and identify cows to be included in the program. Work them through the yards to get them into a routine. Tag cows before commencing the program. Only those with maximum conception chances (i.e., maiden heifers – cows calved a minimum of 45 days) should be included. Select the cows and plan the feed up to one year ahead.

6. Check the restraint facilities before the program starts.

7. Order equipment, semen and nitrogen before it is required. Leave precise delivery instructions with the AB centre. Delays are costly. Ensure that sufficient equipment, semen and nitrogen are on hand and make provision for rapid resupply if necessary.

8. Have clean up bulls on hand (one bull per 100 cows) at the completion of the program if required.

For further information contact Geoff Fahey, QBII, DPI, Gympie, Ph 07 5480 4420.