Artificial insemination is the process where semen is collected from a male and then artificially inserted into the female. The process takes place shortly after the beginning of oestrus to ensure the semen will arrive at the fertilisation site just before ovulation. In the cattle industry, there are several advantages for using artificial insemination.
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Unlimited Breeding Selection
One of the primary advantages of artificial insemination is that bulls from around the world can be used for breeding. Farmers no longer have to use only bulls in their own stock or those they have easy geographic access to. With artificial insemination, frozen semen can be shipped overnight from any part of the globe.
Artificial insemination is a fraction of the cost of purchasing and housing a bull. A farmer can have access, relatively inexpensively, to a wide variety of bulls without having to purchase the bulls themselves, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and without having to care for this wide selection of bulls for a lifetime. This cost effectiveness is increased by the fact that a skilled herdsman, one who is familiar with the signs of oestrus, can perform the procedure himself, without the use of a veterinarian.
Disease and Injury Prevention
Many diseases in cattle are spread through sexual contact. The risks of these diseases are minimised with artificial insemination because the semen of the donating bulls is tested, and the procedure itself is performed without physical contact. In addition, because the cow and bull are not in the same physical space during breeding, the chance of injury to either animal from the other is eliminated. Humans also are less likely to suffer injury when performing artificial insemination as opposed to traditional breeding.
For high quality bulls, semen can be collected and stored to be used for future generations, even after the bull has passed. This is especially valuable when disease or injury ends the life of a bull unexpectedly. Stored semen can ensure that his progeny continue. In addition, older and crippled bulls of high quality can still have semen collected from them and used for breeding when natural breeding is not physically possible for the bull.
More Matings per Bull
Through the use of artificial insemination, a bull can be bred far more often than with natural breeding. According to the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), a bull can be bred naturally less than 100 times per year. However, with artificial insemination the same bull can be bred to tens of thousands of cows. The IFAS notes that one bull, in 1968, provided semen for more than 60,000 dairy cows.
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