Friday, 6 May 2011

It's AI'ing Time!

It has been a very busy last few days at our place! We have been AI'ing (Artificial insemination) for the last week, however the last couple days have been the busiest. Yesterday we AI'd 65 and today we have done 36 so far with another 13 for sure to go! I thought I would share the process that we have gone through the last couple of days as I prepare the semen and my dad inseminates.

The first step and a step that can be difficult at times is to artificially inseminate the cow at the right time. When a cow comes into heat she will stand and let other cows mount her, this is seen by regurly checking them. Every cow varies, they can be in standing heat for a couple hours or many hours. On average it's about 12 hours after she's in standing heat. So, a good rule of thumb is if she's in heat in the morning, AI her that night, and if she's in heat in the evening, she's ready the next morning.

The semen that is used to inseminate the cows is stored in a tank filled with liquid nitrogen. To prepare the semen for insertion into the cow, the semen straw is removed from the tank and placed into warm water at a temperature of about 35 degrees celcius or 95 degrees farenheit, for about 30-45 seconds. The straw of semen must then be dried off as water is toxic to the sperm cells. Next the tip of the strand is cut with a cutter or scissors. Followed by the semen strand being snapped into a plastic tube and then put into the gun. Semen does not fair well to tempeature change, so the gun needs to be kept warm up until it's ready for insertion. This can be done by placing it under your arm or in my case sticking it into my jacket!

This is our semen tank where the semen is stored

Automatic water bath semen unthawing unit in which the semen straw is placed for 30 seconds.

The straw of semen is on the left with the name of the bull, registration number, the day the semen was collected and frozen, and the stud code.
On the right is a picture of the cutter we use, the straw of semen is insterted from the bottom up to the top stop point and then it is cut.
The bottom is the plastic tube of which the semen straw is snapped into the blue tip at the left.
The top of the picture is the gun which the plunger is drawn back first a couple inches and then the plastic tube is twisted on to the gun, ready for insertion.
 The next and final step is inserting the semen into the cow, which is a process that does require training and practice! First is to make sure that the cow is cleaned well, with paper towel. The structure called the cervix is found and the semen is slowly injected over the tip of the cervix!

The insemination process is a little hard to explain so here is a video on how it's done

And there it is, the AI'ing process, and if all is successful about nine months from now a new baby will be born! And needless to say if all 100 we AI'ed in the last two days catch it will be a busy few days next year here at Lilybrook!

Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments!!

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