Reasons to incorporate Timed A.I. into your herd

Posted by

There is no question Artificial Insemination (A.I.) has been a game changer into today's industry but timing could be key to your herd success. Natural service still makes up the majority of breeding in the U.S. cattle industry, however rising bull purchase prices may push more producers to use A.I.

Traditionally, A.I. has been implemented in herds that synchronize estrus. This scenario results in labor and skill needed to determine which females are cycling and ready to breed. Timed A.I. has many advantages over detecting estrus. Some advantages include less labor, wide-spread use of proven A.I. sires, less input costs associated with bull maintenance, and front-loading a calving season.

Timed A.I. is breeding cattle by appointment. By following the synchronization protocol you are setting the stage for breeding cows at a certain time. If protocols are followed meticulously the results have been very well received. Breeding at a certain time of the day reduces the need to devote time and labor resources to detecting estrus. Many times estrus is not detected and the opportunity to A.I. that cow is lost. By using timed A.I. that skill is not required.

Another large advantage to utilizing synchronization and timed A.I. is the ability to incorporate proven A.I. sires. This can help increase predictable calving ease and result in fewer headaches at calving. There is also the opportunity to evaluate EPDs and phenotypic traits in proven sires to make corrective matings. This can better your herd in just a few generations.

A condensed calving season is beneficial for many reasons. A shorter calving season can reduce labor at calving, avoid the harsh weather, and allow more focus on field work in the spring. Much research has shown the advantages to heifers born earlier in the calving season. Heifers born early are more apt to reach sexual maturity faster and therefore breed up fast. This is a snowball effect that can improve fertility in your herd. Steer progeny born earlier in the season are heavier at weaning and subsequently will yield more pounds to sell. Three months is considered the ideal calving season. Having calves year round is a pain you could avoid.

There are numerous synchronization protocols available for cows and heifers. Choose the protocol that works on your farm and stick to it! The details are extremely important in making A.I. successful.

Timed A.I. is a low labor tool to help propagate improved genetics and shorten your calving season. In most cases, females will be turned out to bulls for the remaining portion of the breeding season. It is important to make sure you have an adequate number of bulls to service the remaining females. They will remain somewhat synchronized in their cycle and thus bull to female ratios may need to be higher than natural mating scenarios.

The ultimate goal is to get all your cows and heifers bred. An open cow is not a profitable cow, and not getting bred is the number one reason for culling. Utilizing timed A.I. is a great option to help increase a proven genetic base in your herd, increase the number of calves born early in the calving season, and still achieve this with low labor inputs.

Information composed by:
Sam Brumleve
University of Illinois, ACES