Bad habits. We all have them. They are often developed as a way to get the job done faster or easier, but that doesn’t always mean the job is done right. Members of the GENEX A.I. training team share the most common bad habits they witness on farms. If you are victim of these bad habits, accept that you’ve made them and begin paving your path to improvement.
According to Carlos Marin and Javier Cheang, here are the five most common bad A.I. habits they see on farms today.
1) Over confidence. Once an individual has gained experience breeding cows, it is easy to try to skip steps. Don't! Every step is important to achieving good results.
2) Pulling the gun out instead of pushing the plunger when depositing semen. This is very common. To properly deposit semen, push the plunger half way and then double-check placement of the tip of the gun. If the tip is in the right place (through the cervix and just into the uterine body), deposit the second half of the semen.
3) Depositing frozen semen. The Pocket Thaw™ method is easy to do, but sometimes not enough time is allowed for the semen to thaw properly (should thaw in pocket for 2-3 minutes). If the cow is located really close to where the gun is being loaded, it is better to opt for the water thaw method.
4) Dirt, grime and slime. This is a combination of several instances where a little extra time and effort can yield big results. Wrap the loaded A.I. gun in a clean breeding sleeve. Often breeders place the guns directly into their shirt, but remember, whatever is put into the cow's reproductive tract is going to stay there. If the gun was not wrapped, it could mean way more than just semen is being deposited (e.g., sweat, lint, dust, manure, deodorant). Clean the semen thawing vessels. It is common to find slimy water in thaw vessels. This is a good source of contamination for semen straws and A.I. guns. Also check that the thermometer is working properly. The water must be between 95 to 98° F (35-37°C). Clean those gunky pockets in A.I. gun warmers. If using a gun warmer, make sure to clean and wash the inside pocket often. Clean contaminated A.I. guns. Guns should be cleaned at least once a week with warm water, but never add detergent. Let them dry standing upright. Spray them with alcohol to help with disinfection. Clean manure off the vulva. Be sure to clean the vulva with a paper towel prior to inserting the A.I. gun to prevent contamination.
5) Raising the canister above the semen tank frost line. Be careful when removing semen from the tank. Lifting the canister above the frost line exposes the remaining semen straws to room temperatures and starts the thawing process, thus providing opportunity for sperm damage.
A GENEX Beef Facebook post asked beef producers for tips in planning your next timed artificial insemination (A.I.) project. Here is a sampling of the knowledge shared by seasoned A.I. veterans, grouped into seven categories.
"Timing is cricual! We make sure our shots are done exactly on time and likewise for insemination." - Emily Smith Castine
"Luck favors the prepared." - Kate Meyer
"As cool of weather as you can get. Early morning breeding, and then let them relax." - Ryan Stoecklein
"Research your bull choices and use those that you know have good conception or PregCheck™ rankings. Is it the easiest way to boost conception." - Justine Ferguson
"A good team of people to work with! Communications is key for everything to go smoothly." - Carrie Lynch
"Good body condition and good mineral program." - James Mullens
"Handle cattle and semen carefully!" - Jeff Meyer
To help with your next beef cattle synchronization project, GENEX has compiled answers to the most frequently asked questions.
There isn't an easy answer to this question. Research does suggest some protocols perform better than others, but just because research says it's the best protocol doesn't necessarily make it the best protocol for your operation.
Instead, ask yourself these three questions before choosing a synchronization protocol:
» How many times am I willing to put the female through the chute?
» How much am I willing to spend on synchronization drugs?
» What are my expectations for results?
Once you know the answers to these questions you can objectively analyze which synchronization program best fits your operation. No matter what the research or experts tell you, the best protocol for your operation is one that aligns with your goals and one you are 100% confident you can perform perfectly from start to finish.
The answer depends if you are synchronizing heifers or cows.
Criteria for synchronizing heifers:
» Should have achieved at least 65% of mature body weight
» Minimum of 50% should have a reproductive tract score of ≥ 4 at six weeks before breeding
If you don't have a veterinarian in your area that offers reproductive tract scoring, don't panic! You can achieve the same thing by visually observing your heifers for heat in the weeks and months leading up to breeding. You want to observe that at least 50% of heifers are cycling six weeks prior to breeding.
Criteria for synchronizing cows:
» Body Condition Score of ≥ 5 at calving
» An average postpartum interval of ≥ 40 days at the beginning of the protocol
» A minimum of 21 days postpartum at the time of Eazi-Breed™ CIDR® insertion
» Low incidence of calving difficulty
Synchronization drugs should be given in the muscle (IM), with the exception of LUTALYSE® Hi-Con which can be administered IM or subcutaneously. When administering synchronization drugs, it is recommended to use a 1-1/2 inch, 18-gauge needle. You should also wear gloves when handling synchronization drugs to avoid contact with skin.
CIDR® inserts are labeled as a one-time use item by the manufacturer, and it is recommended that you follow this guideline. CIDR® inserts can be one of the most expensive parts of a synchronization protocol (retailing at $10 to $12) and it is tempting to cut that cost in half by using it a second time, however if tempted ask yourself what another A.I. calf is worth. It’s likely a lot more than $5 to $6.
Your pre-breeding vaccination program is an important part of an overall successful A.I. program. However, several studies have shown injection of naïve heifers with a modified live vaccine (MLV) around the time of breeding result in ovarian lesions and decreased pregnancy rates. Therefore, it is recommended that you give all pre-breeding vaccinations at least 30 days prior to breeding.
While there isn't any research that suggests administering dewormer at breeding will have a negative impact on fertility, plan to do that at least 30 days prior to breeding as well. The less stress you put on females around breeding time, the better your success. To achieve optimal results, it's best to do as little as possible to the females during the synchronization and breeding process.
The most critical time for embryonic development occurs between day five (when the embryo begins migrating from the oviduct to the uterus) and day 42 (when the embryo has made definitive attachment to the uterus). Research indicates shipping your cows during this critical time can cause a 10% decrease in pregnancy rates. The best time to move cattle is prior to insemination or days one to four post-breeding. If you can't move them within this time period, it's best to wait until after day 45.
Despite what research might say, no single synchronization protocol fits every operation. Know your operation, follow the suggestions above and trust your gut. And, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your local GENEX representative.
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