Anibal Ballarotti for Progressive Dairy
Make breeding day more effective by being mindful of the expectations you are placing on your breeding technician.
Inseminating all the cows enrolled into the timed A.I. programme only one day of the week brings advantages, that is certain. The cows’ dry periods can be synchronised, and calving season may result in more homogeneous calves to be raised together. However, larger dairy herds may lead the dairy producer to try to do too much with limited resources. This can increase the chances of errors being made.
With too many cows to inseminate, the A.I. technician may feel pressured to work too quickly in an effort to handle the workload. The timed A.I. technician, knowing the operation needs to be carried out quickly and within a specified time frame, is placed in a difficult position.
As an owner or manager, you set the tone and the pace for breeding day. Here are a few things to do:
Know your number
How many cows can your technician breed before fatigue sets in?
Naturally, after a certain number of cows bred, the efficiency of the technician can be diminished, reducing quality. At some point, all humans get tired. This limit varies among people.
Some technicians may begin to lose their efficiency after breeding 30 cows, others may be fatigued after 50 cows and a few others may be able to breed 100 cows efficiently.
When placed under pressure, the A.I. technician may start to cut corners to get the job done within the prescribed time frame. He or she may thaw too many units at a time, lowering the thaw unit’s temperature, and take longer to place the semen into cows.
Provide some assistance
In order to balance the needs of working efficiently and effectively, adequate labour must be provided. In other words, provide the timed A.I. technician with assistance, as needed. A useful strategy may be to train and assign an assistant to prepare the semen and to hand the prepared A.I. guns to the main technician. In the unfortunate case where it is not possible to take these steps, what can the dairy producer do?
Schedule cows over two days
Instead of starting the whole group only on Monday morning every week, for example, you can enrol half of the cows to the timed A.I. programme on Monday and then the other half on Tuesday. Of course, you need to manage your software to generate the correct lists of injections to the correct cows at the correct times. But, in doing this you are optimising your A.I. technician’s efficiency.
One more important consideration related to breeding all timed A.I. cows in one day is the extended period of time cows will spend locked up. Headlocks are a very efficient way to handle large numbers of cows, however, they can be mishandled. Producers should strive to reduce lockup times to a maximum of one to one and a half hours per day. That can be a challenge if breeding too many cows is attempted in a single day.
This article is part of a series. Click here to read the other articles: “How to make breeding day more effective – Part 1: Nitrogen tank and equipment maintenance” and “How to make breeding day more effective – Part 2: Improve semen handling.”
Anibal Ballarotti. Consultant – ABS Global.
Originally published on Progressive Dairy.