This bull is in the trailer, leaving his girls, and off to a 10-month vacation.
Earlier this week, I was busy in the barn at one of our farms despite the humidity and rain. We were working cattle and pulling bulls from the cow herds.
The calves were receiving their first round of vaccinations (2 shots – one to protect against 7 different Clostridiums and Pinkeye, another for Respiratory diseases), new ear tags with insecticide to deter flies and ticks, and the males were castrated if not already done at birth and received a Ralgro implant. (Be sure to click the links for more information about why these products are given.)
The cows and calves had their weight recorded. Many of the calves are already getting close to 600 lbs. After we were finished, everyone was turned out to the pasture; less than an hour in the pens for each herd of cows.
The bulls have been out with the cows for the past 60 days, but breeding season has come to an end, and they are headed to their pastures separate from the cows. A short breeding season is utilized as a useful management tool.
- Calves are born in a short window, allowing us to dedicate time to watching over cows during calving.
- Cows are more uniform in their nutrient requirements which change with stage of pregnancy and length of lactation.
- Spring calving works for herds in Tennessee because our peak in forage production coincides with peak in cow nutrient requirements, allowing us to use pasture to supply all of our cow’s diet during this most important time.
- Calves are more uniform at weaning, making it easier to market and feed them after weaning.
- Less fertile cows are identified and culled from the herd when not breeding during this 60-day window, allowing us to build a herd with selection for better genetics for efficiency and production.
A few years ago, I recorded a few short videos while pulling bulls from the pastures and discussed what was happening. Continue reading
Posted in Breeding Season, Bulls, Cattle, Day in Farm Life, Ranch Life, Summer, Video
Tagged Breeding Season, Bulls, Cattle, cow herds, Health, Pasture, respiratory diseases, tennessee, Vaccination, Video
It’s Take Your Child to Work Day!
Sometimes my dad asked me to do some pretty tough chores… But we still had fun.
Not everyone has the opportunity to take their kids to work on a daily basis. As a kid who worked daily with both parents, I didn’t realize that for a long time. My dad managed a ranch with over 1,200 mother cows, and we usually had over 2,000 yearling cattle at any given time. My mom kept him in line, managed the books, and outworked most of the cowboys at the chute. And every moment my brothers and I were not at school, we were working with them on the ranch.
Every once in a while there was a little Wild Cow Milking involved in the job with dad…
I don’t regret that work one bit. My parents instilled my passion for ranching, working with cattle, and being a part of the agriculture community. There’s no way I’d take that back. I have learned so much in the pasture that I never would have had the opportunity to learn in the classroom.
Not everyone has the opportunity to work so closely with their family. I’m thankful that’s possible for many farming families. Were your parents able to bring you along to work? Will you take your kids to work today?
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working on several farms as breeding season for our cattle ramps up. As a part of my effort to share more information about biotechnology as it relates to cattle reproduction, this post will address the process we use when breeding cattle. Please leave any questions it may bring to mind in the comments section below or submit a direct message via the contact form on the Ask a Farmer page.
Artificial Insemination (AI) is the most valuable management practice to the cattle producer. The procedure makes efficient use of the generous supply of sperm available from an individual male in a manner that greatly increases genetic progress as well as improving reproductive efficiency in many situations.
Artificial Insemination: The deposition of sperm cells within the female reproductive tract by mechanical or instrumental means for the purpose of breeding.
Biotechnology: biological processes developed in the laboratory and made available in the commercial markets.
AI was the first biotechnology applied to improve reproduction and genetics of farm animals. Reproductive efficiency using AI is at least as good as using natural mating when no diseases are present and good management practices are employed. When certain diseases enter the picture, especially venereal diseases, AI becomes an important factor in their control.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Artificial Insemination
Advantages of AI far outweigh the disadvantages:
- Genetic improvement through more accurate evaluation of transmitting ability of males, continued after the death of the male
- Use of semen from genetically elite sires increases the accuracy and intensity of selection
- Control of venereal or other diseases
- Improved record keeping on farms where used
- More economical than natural service when genetic merit is considered
- Safer by the elimination of dangerous bulls on the farm, especially for the dairy breeds
Disadvantages of AI include the amount of time livestock managers must spend checking females for estrus. Some special facilities for corralling and insemination are required. Trained personnel are required to perform the technique.
Process of Artificial Insemination
- First the semen is collected from males through artificial insemination methods
- Technicians make certain the semen contains sperm of sufficient quality and quantity to survive freezing and thawing with enough viable sperm to complete conception
- Semen is examined in the laboratory for foreign material and quality. Quality is determined by the number of sperm per millimeter of semen, how active sperm are (motility) and the shape of the sperm
- Semen is preserved by storing it in tanks of liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -320 degrees F or below
- At the time of insemination the semen containing the sperm is thawed, the technician then injects the semen into the female reproductive tract. This requires a degree of skill.
Artificial Insemination in Different Species
Merck Veterinary Manual gives a good overview of AI and reproductive technologies in many species:
This is an introduction to artificial insemination (AI) in livestock. If you have more specific questions, please leave a comment below or submit a question in the Ask a Farmer tab. Submissions will be used to answer questions in my series on biotechnology.
Posted in Ask A Farmer, Biotechnology, Breeding Season, Questions, Ranch Life
Tagged advantages and disadvantages of artificial insemination, Agriculture, AI, artificial insemination, Ask A Farmer, Biotechnology, Breeding Season, Cattle, reproductive efficiency
Ryan featured this on the Ag Proud Facebook page yesterday but wanted to be sure you all saw the latest effort from Kansas rancher Derek Klingenberg and his Klingenberg Farms Studios. His family farm stars in another great video — this is Ranching Awesome a Thrift Shop parody.
So, what’s your favorite scene? I really like Derek & his daughters dancing in the shop! Here’s a screenshot of it that makes me smile.
Be sure to visit Derek’s YouTube page for other awesome farm videos and catchy tunes.