Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring is a Time for Love...Sort of

You've probably seen the birds chasing each other around in their pretty breeding colors, heard frogs croaking away in wetlands indicating their love, and maybe have even seen dragonflies in their mating dance. Well, I'm here to inform you today that there is even more going on in the world of spring love. Let's head down to the ranch.
These are a bunch of heifers, female cows who haven't yet given birth. They have orange stickers on their rumps. Orange is good. Orange means that they are ready to mate, and other cows have been jumping up on them and have rubbed the gray coating off that sticker. If a bull was turned in with these heifers, he would go crazy. But that's not going to happen (yet), because not just any bull will do.

A bull must be carefully selected from the bull catalog. They even have names like Enhancer and Magnum. There's a short description next to each bull, telling all about his important characteristics. Some of those are ease of birthing his calves, weight gain of those calves, and overall beauty. Okay, not really the last one, but the other two are true. When you go through this catalog and select a bull, you don't get the entire bull, though, you just get some of his semen.

That semen is frozen in liquid nitrogen and transported with care.

This is a view into frozen good genes.

When the time is right, a little of the frozen semen is extracted and put into a thermos of warm water, otherwise known as the "semen warmer." 

Here's my brother-in-law getting one of the semen sticks ready. Even after the semen is taken out of the semen warmer, it needs to stay warm, and one of the ways to do that is stick it down your shirt. Each vial is cared for, as each costs about $10-$15 (depending on the bull chosen).

Here's the guy who came to help with the AIing (artificial insemination). He has the semen stick in his coveralls and is encouraging a heifer to go down the walkway into the chute.

Then it's time. The gloved arm is going into the anus to feel for the cervix (apparently not a very easy thing to do), so the semen can be inserted in just the right spot.

It doesn't take very long. 

About 80% of the heifers go into heat at the time of AIing, and about 80% of the AIs take. 

The heifers will go out into their own field.

And then in a short while, a "cleanup" bull will be let loose into the field to breed any cows that didn't have success the first time around.

Ah, so love on the ranch may be a little different then some of the other springtime love you're observing. It should result in the same thing: cute little babies, full of energy and zip.


The DIYer said...

Where's Mike Rowe?

Sliv said...

The has a more savory subject matter today.

A said...

Oh my. That's a pretty comprehensive posting. I remember reading about the cleanup bulls from last year.

Dessert Survivor said...

Mike Rowe did an episode on AI a year or two ago. It was highly entertaining. It was also done about 12 miles from where I live.

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