The most recent “Afternoon in the Yards” Field Day, held on Friday, November 28th focused on the keys to successful beef cattle breeding programs, using Artificial Insemination.
Te Mania Angus are using Fixed Time AI techniques, which involves a carefully planned program with Southern Cross Genetics, to inseminate the cows.
The Fixed Time AI involves synchronising the ovulation of the cows to be Artificially Inseminated (AI). This method enables the entire mob to be AI’d on the first day of the program, which is followed up by a 2nd round of AI for any cows who are observed to be in heat, twenty-one days later.
Tom Gubbins, of Te Mania Angus, and Ian Moreland of Southern Cross Genetics spoke about the critical factors for a successful AI program. Key points were –
- Females must be on a rising plain of nutrition and going forward
- Correct scheduling of the program, and sticking close to those timings
- Semen quality has a bearing on pregnancy rates
- Ensure calves are drafted off cows for as short period as possible
Ian commented that Fixed Time AI protocols save producers a significant amount of time, particularly due to all the cows in the program receiving the first round of AI. The cows are only brought into the cattle yards three times, which equates to less stress on the animals and considerable savings on labour and time. And, every animal has the opportunity to get pregnant on Day 1 of the breeding season.
Ian stressed that good management is fundamental to a successful breeding program, and that cows should ideally be 60-65% of mature weight (340+kg) at joining, and have reached puberty and be cycling regularly.
The KoolCollect animal recording system was demonstrated, which announced the cow’s identification, and then which semen had been allocated to that particular cow. Dougal McIntyre of Sapien Technology’s answered questions on the working of the program. Tom stressed the accuracy of the joining records is paramount in a program, including:
- Keeping an accurate recording of each cow after she is inseminated.
- AI technician checks markings on each semen straw to ensure accuracy.
- The AI technician also keeps a paper record for future reference, if ever required.
Tom said this Fxed Time AI program has enabled the full herd of 1600 breeding cows at Te Mania Angus to be joined within a short program. This tight calving pattern is so important to streamlined management groups for growing out and assessing the latest genetics.