A piece of new technology beef cow-calf producers have at their disposal is fixed-time, artificial insemination. According to Eldon Cole, a University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, some folks refer to it as "breeding by appointment."
Last April 25, 2006, University of Missouri Extension specialists in southwest Missouri held an appointment breeding demonstration at Kleiboeker Farms, Wentworth to show what is involved with AI.
Nolan and Steve Kleiboeker--with help from Genex Coop, Inc. of Strafford--set 43 cows up for synchronized breeding at 9 a.m. on April 25. The actual AI chores were handled by Ernie and Tammy Wallace of Stotts City. In less than 90 minutes all the cows were bred.
At that demonstration it was pointed out that the protocol involved three trips through the chute, including the AI trip.
"Trips through the chute add labor and expense to breeding cows. If facilities are poor, then programs like this can be a real hassle. But, they do offer a chance to bunch the calf crop and breed the cows to a proven bull," said Cole.
The Kleiboekers estimated the total service cost per cow would not be too different than they would expect from a good bull used naturally.
Research at the University of Missouri, led by Dr. David Patterson has shown a conception rate in the 60 to 70 percent range under a wide variety of conditions.
Cole says the results of this particular demonstration are now in and 62.8 percent (or 27 of the 43 cows) calved to the timed AI. The expected due date was Feb. 2. The first calf was born Jan. 25 and the last cow calved on Feb. 8.
The other 16 cows were apparently bred by the clean up bull, based on their calving dates.
"Even though the cows were bred within 90 minutes of each other to the same bull it is not unusual to see actual birth dates spread out over two weeks," said Cole.
New technology like fixed-time AI may not suit everyone.
"At the same time, AI certainly has features that can help many producers be more competitive in the cattle business," said Cole.
For more information on heat synchronization and breeding contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, 417-466-3102; Gary Naylor in Dallas County, 417-345-7551; and Dona Funk in Cedar County, 417-276-3313.