You will find knowing how to do artificial insemination of your own livestock a great benefit. Not having to feed and pasture a dairy bull to breed your milk cow or having to worry with a billy goat to breed your nannies, cuts back on your feed costs as well. Not to mention having to manhandle an ornery bull that refuses to stay within the confines of his pen. I have been around a few bulls that were totally gentle and minded their manners very well, but this is not always the case.
The low cost of artificial insemination can, in turn grow your herd while keeping your expenses relatively down.
Where can I learn how to do A.I and where can I find courses?
Most local agriculture colleges offer courses on A.I. where you can learn all the technical info. Agricultural colleges often provide hands on experience with live animals all under the supervision of an expert. Also, it is fairly easy to hire a professional livestock breeder to do the job if you don’t want to do the course itself.
Artificial insemination may seem like quite the complicated technology, but the truth is that it has been around for thousands of years before any high-tech equipment ever came into being. Ancient Arabian writings believed to be from around 1322 AD. describe an Arab chief who was seeking to improve his herd of horses. (Even way back then, people were trying to genetically improve their livestock.) The chief had a excellent mare that he wanted to have bred, but the problem came with the stallion. The stallion that he had his eye on and so badly desired to have his mare bred to, belonged to his archenemy who refused payment to allow his elite stallion to breed the mare. But as the old saying goes, “Where there is a will, there’s a way.” So the chief devised a plan which involved sneaking into his enemy’s pasture in the dead of the night, finding the stallion, sexually exciting the stallion and make him to ejaculate so he could collect the stallion’s valuable semen, and then returning to his own pasture without awakening his enemy which would result in the chief losing his own soul.
This amazing plan actually worked. And once the stallion’s semen had been collected, the Arabian chief introduced the semen into the mare’s reproductive tract by placing it on a wad of cotton on the end of a stick. The scheming chief was dually rewarded when his mare conceived and had the half stolen foal.
Fast-forward to the modern era and with the aid of the microscope, the scientist Spallanzani was able to successfully artificially inseminate dogs in the 1780’s. The success continued over the following years as other scientists experimented with other groups of animals.
Today, semen from prize male livestock is collected and stored in special tubes called straws. Coloring can be added to the straws to help distinguish the different breeds or to help identify which samples came from the different prized bulls. A straw of semen can cost $10 from a cheap bull, all the way to thousands of dollars for a single straw from that prized stock.
Semen is effectively good for only four days at the very most, if it is kept at 40 degrees F. After this the point in time, sperm cells die rapidly. On the other hand, semen straws can be stored and frozen for several years if the proper temperature is kept. Liquid nitrogen is used to maintain the right freezing temperature.
Large metal vacuumed-sealed bottles are used to store the AI straws and the liquid nitrogen in. These bottles are referred to as a semen tank. The inside of the tank is then kept at a temperature of 320 degrees below F, which ensures the survival of the semen. Note: The semen tank or bottle itself can be stored at room temperature.
Today many farms, dairies, and ranches have an AI tank for their livestock. Quite often these ranchers and dairymen are willing to hire themselves out to AI a milk cow or two and even a dairy goat for side money. You can expect to pay them a fee for their labour and there will also be a fee for the AI straws used.
On the other hand, sometimes ranchers or farmers will allow your milk cow or dairy goat to run with their bull or billy goat to be bred. They will charge you a fee for this as well, which you will have to arrange with them. (In my experience with the artificial insemination cost, I have paid a fee of about $100 per animal.)
Just a note to keep in mind, it is not necessary to have a cow bred only to a bull of her own breed, (example, a Holstein cow can be bred or AI to an Angus bull). The main thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want to have your cow bred to a bull of a different breed that is noted for its big bone structure. This is especially important if the cow is on the smaller size like a Jersey cow. She will have trouble calving and you may end up having to take her to a vet for a C-section.
Homemade cheese making, with either goat’s milk, cow’s milk, or even sheep’s milk, becomes so much more easier when you have your own milk supply. With today’s technology and the low artificial insemination cost, makes the home dairy all the more simple.