Cattle Breeding

There are lots of different ways that we can breed cattle, and even more breeds to choose from! I am a bit a repro guru, and I really enjoy learning about all the different ways we can ensure conception in our cattle, in fact, I just had an embryo flush done on my cow, Bella!  Below are a few different ways ranchers can breed their cattle.

 

  1. Natural Service – This is where the female is turned out with a bull, and is serviced by him when she comes into a natural heat. Cows typically come into estrus (heat) every 21 days. The rancher will select a bull that is suited for his cows and production goals and will then perform a breeding soundness exam prior to turning the bull out with the cows. One bull will service approximately 25 cows.
Hangin' out with the Ladies!

Hangin’ out with the Ladies!

 

  1. Artificial Insemination – Use of A.I. is increasing in popularity, particularly in the show cattle industry. A genetically superior bull is collected at a bull stud, then his semen is packaged into straws and frozen in liquid nitrogen. This allows the genetics of this bull to be shipped all over the world! Ranchers can then buy this semen and breed their cows recto-vaginally. A.I. typically has about a 60% success rate and costs about $50 per cow. Using this method allows ranchers to have greater access to a range of superior bulls and cuts down on cost and management of owning a bull (since they love to tear through fences!).
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Visual of How to A.I.

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Gettin’ It Done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Another new and exciting method of breeding cattle is through embryo transfer. A donor cow is superovulated using specific hormones. This means she will ovulate more oocytes, or “eggs”, than during a usual heat cycle. She is then A.I.’d, which allows these oocytes to become fertilized embryos. The embryos hang out in the donor cow for a few days, before being removed and either transferred into a recipient cow or frozen in liquid nitrogen. Embryo transfer allows one female to produce multiple offspring very quickly, without the toll pregnancy takes on her. The end result is a donor cow that is not pregnant and multiple recipient cows that are carrying the donor’s calves.
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What Embryos look like before being implanted into a recipient cow

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One donor cow with all of her calves. Each of these calves was once an embryo placed into a recipient cow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of these methods have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are all guaranteed safe for consumers. Embryo transfer, in particular, is a very exciting way to breed cattle and is helping to meet our demands for not only raising better quality cattle, but increasing our cattle numbers, and ultimately decreasing prices!

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