Estrous synchronization protocols are available that precisely synchronize ovulation in beef cows. Although it is not necessary to detect estrus when utilizing a fixed-time protocol, it is prudent to watch the cows prior to AI as a confirmation that the protocol is working correctly. This picture illustrates a group of cows that are ready to be inseminated.
Clear and accurate animal identification is a requirement for a successful artificial insemination program. Ear tags need to be easily readable and not covered with mud as shown above.
Working facilities and animal handling techniques that minimize animal stress create a safe working environment for the cattle and personnel.
A portable breeding barn (pictured above) reduces the need for expensive facilities and can be reserved by contacting your regional livestock specialist or a representative of an AI company. The barn is designed for three people: one person to thaw semen and load insemination guns and two inseminators.
Most estrous synchronization protocols that utilize fixed-time AI include an injection of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) at the time of insemination. GnRH induces a surge of gonadotropin in heifers and cows that have not already initiated a preovulatory surge. The preovulatory gonadotropin surge is the signal for ovulation and preparation of the oocyte for fertilization. You should wear latex gloves when handling estrous synchronization products. It is also essential to utilize a 1 ½ inch 18 gauge needle to ensure that the GnRH or prostaglandin F2a is delivered deep into the muscle.
This series of pictures illustrate how the person thawing the semen and the inseminators can work within the portable breeding barn. Heifers or cows enter the barn and normally stand quietly. Following insemination the inseminator can open the door to let the animal out from the back of the barn.
Cattle leave the breeding barn immediately after insemination. The inseminator is able to open and close the door to the barn from the rear of the cow.
Cattle are returned to pasture immediately after AI.