Equipment Used in the Artificial Insemination of Cows

Written by brooke bowers
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Equipment Used in the Artificial Insemination of Cows
Artifical insemination helps keep the cattle industry in business. (Heifer image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from Fotolia.com)

Artificial insemination (AI) is a popular practice in the beef cattle industry. AI is the practice of placing semen from a bull inside of the uterus of a heifer. This helps maintain good breeding in cattle.

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Heat Detection

In order to ensure AI success, you must ensure that the heifer is in heat, which is a window of time in which a cow is ready to breed. A "chin ball marker" can help. It is attached to the bottom of the bull's chin and leaves a streak on the heifer's back when the bull attempts to mount. Another option is a heatmount detector, a white stick that is glued to the heifer's rump that turns red when exposed to the pressure from the bull's chest or abdomen.

Preservation

Once the heifer is in heat, there is a 12 hour window before ovulation occurs in which the semen must capacitate, a process that allows it to be ready for procreation. In order to achieve maximum fertility, semen should be kept at a temperature of -80 degrees Celsius prior to use in a vacuum-sealed, well-insulated metal bottle. Once frozen, semen can be kept indefinitely, as long as this temperature is kept consistent. This bottle can maintain a temperature of -195 degrees Celsius as long as there are at least two inches of liquid nitrogen in the bottom.

Placement

Semen should be placed in the body of the uterus. In order to do so accurately, a pipette and AI gun is required. The pipettes hold the semen while it's being frozen and will be worked into the uterus. The gun allows you to place the defrosted pipette full of semen into the uterus in order to inject the biological material, most often only possible by the farmer's hand being inside the cow's rectum to direct the gun as close to the cervix as possible. Also, bacteria from your hands may present a problem. Make sure to properly sanitise your hands with a antiseptic microbicide. Also, shoulder-length gloves can help with bacteria control.

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