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Cow Insemination – How Does it Work?
July 20th, 2015
While it is still possible to bring in a bull to inseminate cows, today’s farmers generally rely on artificial insemination (AI) for the reproduction of their cattle. There are many reasons why artificial cow insemination is preferred. First and foremost is that it makes it much easier, and less costly, to inseminate a large number of cows. Also, with the AI method, the farmer does not have to bring an actual bull to the farm, which saves both time and money. In order to keep the milk production at a high level, it is very important to conduct proper fertility management, Afimilk stands behind a world-leading automatic heat detection system, AfiAct. This system enables precise detection of the cows’ estrus and leads to great savings for the dairy farm.
How Artificial Insemination Works in Cattle
To carry out AI, semen must be collected from the bull and then frozen. When the semen is frozen, it is stored in what is referred to as a straw, which is basically a plastic tube. The semen is mixed with a type of cryo-protectant in order to stay viable. Other substances that can be added to the sperm are antibiotics, so that the cows inseminated will not contract bacterial diseases, and an extender, which makes it possible to use the amount of sperm for a greater number of inseminations.
The semen can be used either the same day or at a later time, even in a different location. In fact, AI has been carried out between different countries.
In order for the insemination to succeed, it must be carried out when the cow goes into estrus, which happens naturally every 18 to 24 days. Estrus can also be induced using hormones. This makes it possible to completely control the timetable of the insemination which can make the process very cost effective. With Afimilk’s system, AfiAct, this will not be necessary, making the process even more effective since the costs for drugs are canceled.
Different Types of Cow Insemination
There are several types of cow insemination, which include the following:
- Bringing cow and bull together - The most traditional type of insemination entails bringing cow and bull together at the time of the cow’s estrus. This requires a bull to be nearby or transported for the occasion. It also means that the insemination process only involves one cow. Since cows should be inseminated 12 hours after the estrus and preferably at dusk, the traditional way is not an easy task and demands a lot of prior planning.
- Recto-vaginal technique - The most commonly used technique today is the recto-vaginal one, which is the manual insertion into the cow of the sperm that was frozen. An effective technique, it nevertheless demands skillful handling to ensure the safety of both the animal and the inseminator.
- Inseminating more than one cow at a time - To increase the AI’s efficiency,
it is possible to line up several cows in a working alley. Having the cows stand side by side is very convenient, especially when the plan is to inseminate 40 to 50 cows in one day.