Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Artificial insemination and herd management.
Artificial insemination and herd management as farmers turn to artificial insemination to rebuild herd and improve breed status.As Australian cattle producers set out to rebuild a national herd diminished by drought they are faced with the very factor that has many rejoicing — the high cattle price. Restocking is an expensive business, as is buying bulls for new genetics, so a growing number of producers are relying on breeding technologies such as artificial insemination (AI). AI is when a vet introduces the freshly thawed semen of a particular bull into a cow that has been induced to cycle — meaning a prized sire can produce many offspring without ever having to even be in the same paddock as its mate. While the technology has been around for some time, it is getting more and more popular according to central Queensland vet Tim Wright. Health of the recipient cows is paramount in artificial breeding and, due to some early season rain in the region, paddocks are looking green and the cattle are in good condition."We've had a perfect storm in a way. We've been running more AI programs and producers have responded to it, so we've had a great run," Mr Wright said. Fellow vet Ian Croft said confidence was high in the beef industry leading to more people investing in their breeding."There are some producers that've done this for the first time this year and their excitement is infectious," he said."I'll really look forward to pregnancy testing those cows because there's another step of excitement for them."It's invigorating to work with producers who are excited and really keen … it makes a day's work really enjoyable." Grazier and retired vet Paul Wright has just completed an AI program with the help of his son Tim and fellow vet Ian Croft.He said he had been supplementing his natural breeding with other techniques for some time, but the technology moved forward with every year. "When I first graduated, AI, ovum transplants and embryo transplants were cutting edge and now we've got a situation where they are just a everyday tool in beef production, I believe," he said. "Productivity-wise, having that reproductive pressure on the cows, that's the key and these programs fit right in with those aims." "We have synchronised the cows into a four-hour window of ovulation and hence we do the AI at that particular time to hopefully get as many calves as possible. "The quality of the drugs and the research that has been done into the programs … have altered, changed and been tweaked to obtain a better result and we are the beneficiaries of all that good work." While there was plenty of enthusiasm for AI at the moment, Mr Wright said it would never replace the role of bulls and natural breeding."The bull will do a much better job than me; see