AI Basics from an everyday Ranch Wife
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Anyone who owns cattle knows how much work goes into each and every animal… I have heard so many times from uneducated people, “what the big deal with cattle? All they need is grass and water.” Insert an eye roll here… Raising cattle isn’t for the faint of heart, it takes a lot of time, energy, patience, and love for the animals. This past month has been filled with so much cattle work, I am thankful that my children have the same love and passion for the industry as my husband does, because many hands make the work load lighter.
Anyone who follows my snap stories on snapchat will agree the Martinmaas crew seems to move cattle “all the time.” My husband has a very tight schedule of what bunches go to what pastures, how long they will stay there, and where they will move next. We are some of the fortunate ranchers who can say, we are able to chase (or move) each and every animal by foot. We do not have to load and haul any of them to pasture. Some of our pasture is farther away so we will move the young calves and their mamas 3-4 miles a day and let them rest in between until they are at their final destination. They stay there an allotted amount of time and then are herded to the next pasture to keep the grass fresh and abundant. While out to pasture we have to AI (artificially inseminate) them to breed them for the following year.
This process starts out by putting in CIDRs (controlled internal drug release) device, these are inserted into each cow that will hopefully calve the following spring. The cow is also given a shot of Cystorelin that increases ovulation. These CIDRs contain progesterone and improve timing and efficiency for breeding. The CIDR stays in for seven days, and then the herd is brought back in and it is removed. They are given another shot, Estrumate which brings the cow into heat and prepares them for the insemination. Around 48 hours later they are brought back in and inseminated with semen straws.
The process is very time consuming, but also very educational. Our children help in every step of the process and could tell you just as much if not more about the subject than I could. This year we are trying something new and breeding the ones that didn’t get bred in the first round. We use a bull that is sterile (also known as a gomer bull) with a contraption on it so it marks the cow that is in heat. When Bill, or one of the kids, sees the paint mark on its back or its heat sensor scratched off, it should tell us that one needs to still be bred. Time shall tell if it works or not; I am slightly hesitant to think that anything with cattle could be that simple. We will spend a better part of a month AI-ing the greater portion of the herd, we will use bulls the old fashioned way for the rest of the herd, and I will let you know when we preg check how things look!