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Country Talk Discussion Board

Re: AI and other types on non natral breeding

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Posted by Hal/WA on August 15, 2003 at 16:49:39 from (

In Reply to: AI and other types on non natral breeding posted by STEVEN H on August 15, 2003 at 10:35:09:

I grew up on a cow and calf operation ranch and we had a little dairy herd that never exceeded 5 lactating cows. We usually had a grade Hereford bull. My Dad would go to the stockyards every couple of years and bring home the best looking Hereford feeder sized bull he could afford. Then that young bull would replace the previous full grown bull when he was big enough to do his job, so that the larger bull would not be breeding his daughters. We built up a very nice looking herd over the years this way, and often were able to do quite well selling the adult bull as a proven breeder because we could show his calves.

But for the Holstein milk cows and even some of the tamest beef cows, we sometimes used AI. Our operation was too small to consider having a Holstein bull, and besides that, many dairy breed bulls can be a real handful and may even be deadly dangerous. Using AI when we wanted a full Holstein replacement heifer was the best way to accomplish this. If you have ever tried to milk a Holstein/Hereford cross, you would understand why we wanted our milk cows to be all Holstein.

On the few beef cows that we used AI on, we did this because we then had access to extremely good sires--bulls that were worth so much that our little operation would never have had any chance to get the services of that quality of bull without the technique of AI. Using AI one bull could sire many thousands of calves over many more years than his lifetime instead of at most a couple of thousand over his useful life doing the process conventionally.

AI was practical for our dairy animals and those few beef cows that had a lot of handling and were very tame and easy to handle. But AI is not always successful, for one reason or another--be it timing or technique. We found it was also practical to have a bull for our beef herd and also for dairy cows that would not settle with AI or when we did not need replacement dairy heifers. The bull was almost always successful when he bred any of the cows. Sometimes if the bull was young and had short legs and the dairy cow was tall, it required a little bit of help. More than once, I have stood with a cow in the creek in position for the bull to do his business with that cow by standing on the bank. It worked. By the way, all of the Hereford bulls we had were relatively gentle and easy to manage (or we would not have kept them). But ANY BULL is an animal to be respected and to be very cautious of......

I have read some about embryo transfers and other exotic techniques. They are interesting, but I am sure that they are very expensive and I doubt that their use would ever be very widespread. Maybe in the super high dollar registered animals and in research, but not in very many run-of-the-mill animals. But AI is different--not very expensive at all and probably much more economical use of the top, expensive quality sires.

It is true that AI is a relatively new technique, but farmers have been selectively breeding animals for thousands of years and probably long before recorded history began. That is how we now have breeds as different as Angus, Herefords, Jerseys and Holsteins that are all the same species, but are really different in the presentation. We manipulate the breeding by mating animals that have characteristics we want and keeping the offspring that continue or improve those characteristics. It is the same with dogs--the chihuahua and the Saint Bernard are the same species (and I have seen such a "successful, but unintended" cross!!! Strange looking critters), but hardly look like the same kind of animal.

So if you don't want to use the AI service, don't. If you have a bull, be careful,it can really hurt or kill you. But please don't tell someone else that they can not use technology if they want to. Live and let live.....

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