It was a typical cold winter day in Wisconsin, but the events that took place on our farm the afternoon of February 14, 2002, were anything but ordinary. Our farm’s main operator, my Mother-in-law, Juli, was in the process of letting cows in for the night milking. A first-calf heifer wasn’t as eager as the rest to come in, so Juli was going out to fetch her. When Juli was several steps out of the barn, she caught a glimpse of the herd bull coming at her. In that split second, Juli was able to make it to the gate, but not before the bull had hit her several times. Adrenaline and sheer muscle allowed Juli to pull herself over the gate, but her broken body now lie on the snow and ice. Thankfully, my Father-in-law came home from work about 15 to 30 minutes after the attack and found her. Juli was rushed to the hospital where she underwent several surgeries. She still has scars and aches and pains as a result of the incident, but we can rejoice that she is still with us as we approach the 15-year anniversary of that day. We now look at Valentine’s Day a whole new way. It is a day we remember how precious life is, and how quickly everything can change.
I grew up on a farm that exclusively bred artificially, so when I met my husband, and heard this story, I tried to understand the reasons behind a herd bull. Now, working for GENEX, I understand it even less. I am thrilled to be working in the agriculture industry and passionate about A.I. and how it allows farmers:
› Safety. (Refer to the above story, enough said.)
› Maximized Reproductive Performance. By utilizing bulls with known high fertility levels, you can improve conception rates and those of future generations as well
› Improved Herd Genetics. Lifetime Net Merit $, calculated by the USDA, measures the net profit over the lifetime of a bull’s average daughter. USDA comparisons show daughter-proven active A.I. bulls average a $254 LNM advantage over non-A.I. bulls averaging -51. Genomic-tested active A.I. bulls average a $496 LNM advantage over non-A.I. bulls.*
› Improved Production. The USDA calculates milk production in pounds, reflecting the expected milk production of each bull’s future mature daughters. USDA comparisons show daughter-proven active A.I. bulls average a 709 lb advantage over non-A.I. bulls. Genomic-proven active A.I. bulls average a 1,049 lb advantage over non- A.I. bulls.*
I know, I know, you are saying, but it is more work without a bull; they can detect heat better. With today’s synchronization protocols and/or cow monitoring systems, heat detection is relatively easy.
There is a cost advantage to having a bull, you say. Is there really? Plug your numbers into this worksheet to determine some of the hidden costs of bull breeding.
So this Valentine’s Day, do your herd, your checkbook and your family a huge favor and switch to artificial insemination.
*According to the USDA AIPL Summary of April 2015 Evaluations (ftp://aipl.arsusda.gov/pub/bulls/evalrpt.txt).