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Artificial insemination of cattle

Quick facts

  • Review the reproductive anatomy of the cow, heat detection, semen handling and the process to breed the cow to prevent common mistakes.
  • First-time conception rate in virgin heifers should be 55% or more.
  • For lactating cows, the goal should be a conception rate of 40% or more.
  • Semen should be thawed at 95°F for 45 seconds.
  • Use your left hand in the rectum and right hand to guide the insemination gun regardless of your dominant hand.
  • Slowly deposit semen - it should take about 5 seconds.
  • After breeding is complete, re-check that the desired bull was used for the mating.

Herd breeding goals

In virgin heifers, a reasonable goal is a first-time conception rate of 55% or more, or fewer than 1.8 services per conception.

For lactating cows, the goal should be a conception rate of 40% or more, or fewer than 2.5 services per conception.

Getting the cow ready

First and foremost, the cow must be ready to be bred. This can be determined by noting signs of estrus or based off a timed synchronization program.

Properly restrain the cow when it is time to breed; it is important for both the cow’s and inseminator’s safety. Pick a place that is easy to use and is familiar to the cow to reduce the stress of the situation.

Proper semen handling

Store insemination supplies and semen tanks in a clean and dry location at all times. Keep accurate records as to semen location within the semen tank and the number of units available.

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Breeding the cow

It is recommended to use your left hand in the rectum and right hand to guide the insemination gun regardless of your dominant hand. Use a new breeding glove for every insemination.

  1. Lubricate the glove with mineral oil or a commercial A.I. lubricant.
  2. Let the cow know that you are there by gently patting her on the rump or talking in a soft voice. Enter the rectum by forming a cone like shape with your fingers. Gently palpate the cow and remove any excess manure.
  3. Place the tail on the back side of your left arm so that it is not in the way during insemination.
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Karen Johnson, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2020

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