At the AgChat PNW dinner I went to a few weeks ago, the question was asked at our table about how you go about AI'ing a cow.
The topics that come up around the table at an ag conference!
This is kind of our bread & butter, so I was excited to add to the conversation. We talked about how you AI a cow, the equipment you need, and the factors that lead to succesful conception rates. Artificial Insemination (AI) is a side business for us, and right now we're in the thick of AI'ing cows and heifers for the ranch and for other customers.
However - you usually won't find us AI'ing many of our own cows.
Partly because Clint put embryos in some of the older cows, but mostly because it comes back to the whole "The cobbler's kids go without shoes".
We get so busy on AI projects for other people, that our small herd of Charolais cows usually get passed over because we don't have time. This year Clint was able to AI a few of his cows in the Double M group we did a few weekends ago, but that's just because they were easy to bring in with the others.
In addition this year, we have a set of replacement heifers that Clint purchased last fall that we're trying to increase body condition on, and we figured AI'ing early with the rest of the ranch's heifers probably wasn't in the cards.
No one likes to talk about their failures, but in this case we have a set of heifers who came to us thinner than we would have liked, and had a few problems calving. So Clint sorted these heifers out of the ranch's main group and brought them to a pen next to our house so he could put them on a higher energy diet. Not only do we hope that the heifers put on some weight, but we're hoping that the calves come to the bunk too and eat, thereby taking a little bit of pressure off of their mama's.
It all goes back to the topic at the dinner table;
A cow first takes care of herself - body condition.
A cow then takes care of her calf - milk production.
And finally, a cow takes care of reproduction - getting pregnant again.
These new heifers haven't had a chance to put on the body condition we think they need to accomplish all three in a timely manner, so we're trying to be proactive in helping them get there. Clint has a bull turned out with them in case they do begin to cycle, but our main goal is to help them gain some condition.
A cow that doesn't breed back doesn't have a lot of use on a ranch, since it's her calf that helps pay the bills. But hopefully the proactive measures Clint's taken will help our conception rates, even if the cows are covered with natural service by the bull.
#32 is in good shape - but she calved last out of all of the heifers, and hasn't had a chance to go thru involution so she got turned out with the bull as well. By the time she'd be ready to AI, we'll be on the road AI'ing at ranches so we didn't want to miss a chance to get her caught up and so the bull will get to cover her.
I thought I'd share the above, since while we love AI and think it should definitely be a tool used on ranches, there are times and situations where it just isn't the most feasible option.
And that's ok.
Life isn't perfect.
And it doesn't have to be perfect, to be beautiful.