January 24, 2009

Cattle farm husbandry – getting top AI results

Cattle, farming, husbandry, breeding, reproduction, artificial insemination (AI), artificial breeding (AB), achieving good results, how to keep the AI technician happy

By Dr Clive Dalton

What’s the problem?
Because cows are inseminated by humans, and because humans vary in their manual dexterity, pregnancy rates can vary with the operator, although AI organisations do their very best to remove this variable from their service. Regular checking of operator results is very much part of their Quality Management programmes.

But to do your bit to help remove the risk of human variation, here’s a list of things which can help promote good results. In any case they are all just “good management” practices.

Good old marketing advice was always “to wear your client’s shoes”! To improve your AI setup, try seeing your operation from the viewpoint of your technician’s gumboots and fix what you don’t like.

How to help your AI technician
  • Have a good road to where your cattle are and the gates open when the technician is due to call.
  • Have a good set of yards and a proper race so the technician can get behind the cow safely without risk of accident.
  • Remember your responsibilities under OSH to have a safe “workplace” as if the technician has an accident you could be liable.
  • Have a clear and clean bench space for the technician’s equipment.
  • Have the cow or cows handy to the yard, or in the yard waiting.
  • Have someone there to put the cows in to the yard and restrain them.
  • If you have ordered frozen semen, have a bucket of cold water handy to thaw the semen straw.
  • Don’t change your mind from the semen you have ordered when the technician arrives.
  • Have a rubbish bin at the yards and keep the place tidy.
Avoid what sperm hate:
  • Smoke - no smoking
  • Sunlight - provide shade
  • Chemicals –don’t spread disinfectant around
  • Cow dung –keep the place clean
  • Provide a washing facility or tap and hose for the technician to wash hands, and a brush to help clean boots. Paper towels are a good hygienic idea as there’s nothing worse than being offered a dirty hand towel.
  • Remember technicians have to keep moving so don’t hold them up.

A nice gesture
At peak times, the technician may not have had time to stop for a bite. Have a flask of coffee and a tin of chocolate or muesli bars at the shed as a nice gesture. It’s a legitimate farm expense and could just help the conception rate – at the next farm if not at yours!

Disclaimer This material is provided in good faith for information purposes only, and the author does not accept any liability to any person for actions taken as a result of the information or advice (or the use of such information or advice) provided in these pages.

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