Thursday, March 25, 2010

Breeding Season

It is that time of year again! Calving is over, or we have stopped checking anyways, and it is time to start breeding cows again.

I have always loved breeding season. The calves are old enough to see if the sires you used last year worked or not, and you get to plan out next years calf crop.

For the last few of years breeding has been a lot easier for us. Before we used to AI every cow on the farm! We never had enough cows to run bulls with our cows. This meant waking up before school to help dad AI cows in the morning, or late at night depending on when the cows were in heat.

AI is a process where frozen semen is thawed and used to breed a cows. A human used a long stainless steel gun to hold the semen. You then insert your arm into the cow, find the right spot and inject the cow with the semen. The process is really not that difficult and we can usually get conception rates upwards of 80%. It is very similar to a semen bank for humans.

Another way that we breed cows is using embryo transfer work. We select some of our best cows and flush them. Again this process is the same as invetro with humans. The difference is that the eggs are extracted out of the really good cow and can either be frozen for later use, or transplanted into a surrogate mother that is the recipe cow.

The final way that we breed our cows is the natural way with a bull. This year we will have 4 different bulls that will run with out cows. Talladega, Revolution, Red Man, and Cool Venture. We share Talladega and Revolution with our partners Beechinor Bros. and Cool Venture with Reich Farms. Being able to partner with people when buying bulls has allowed us to purchase some bulls that we would not be able to afford on our own.

For the next few months we will be busy breeding cows. Once the cows go to pasture it is the responsibility of the bulls to make sure that the cows are bred. We try to have all of our calves born within a 2 month period. So the next few week will be busy to say the least!

(Sorry for the lack of pictures. I was planning on taking some this weekend as we were AI cows, but do to a lack of lights in the barn situation, it just wasn't going to work)

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