Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Spring Tank Special

Are you in the market for a new semen tank?  It just might be the perfect time to buy!  Now through April 30, 2014 Genex is offering its spring tank sale.

This year's featured tanks are long storage tanks that can help save you money and give you piece of mind by needing fewer liquid nitrogen fills.

Tanks on Special:

MVE Millennium II XC214 - 600 unit capacity with 24 week hold time
MVE Super 2 - 600 unit capacity with 26 week hold time
MVE XC 33/22 - 1,200 unit capacity with 22 week hold time
MVE XC 43/28 - 1,140 unit capacity with 28 week hold time

Remember, this special only lasts until April 30, 2014.  If you are interested in any of the tanks listed please contact your local Genex Representative to receive special pricing information and to order!

Monday, February 10, 2014

A.I. vs. the Bull

     It’s February, which means that bull sale season out west is in full swing.  There is only one word to describe the sales that have been held thus far, and that is HOT!  With the price of calves last fall, I don’t think anyone has been surprised, that so far, bulls have been more expensive this spring.  The average price of a yearling bull is likely to be several hundred dollars more than it was last year, if you have ever used the excuse that A.I. is to expensive, it may be time to revisit the economics.


     At Genex, we have a spreadsheet called A.I. vs the Bull.  It allows producers to enter their inputs for natural service and A.I. and determine what a pregnancy costs them.  You could do the same thing on a piece of scratch paper.  It looks something like this:

Natural Service Costs

Bull Purchase Price ≈ $4,398 (Average selling price, year-to-date September 2013, of bull sales reported to the American Angus Association, November 2013, Angus Journal, page 206.)

Annual Bull Maintenance Cost (includes pasture, feed, mineral, vaccinations, yearly breeding soundness exam, pour-on, damage to property, interest, etc.) ≈ $900

Annual depreciation (assumes salvage value of $1700 and bull has a useful life of 3 years) ≈ $900
Total bull cost/year (Annual Bull Maintenance Costs + Annual Depreciation) ≈ $1,800

Let’s assume you expose this bull to 30 cows/year with a weaning percent of 90%, so 27 calves will be born year.  Cost per live calf is (Total bull cost/year/number of live calves) ≈ $66.67

A.I. Costs

This scenario gives approximate A.I. costs for a group of 100 virgin heifers.

Synchronization Drug Costs (assume the 14-day Co-Synch + CIDR® protocol, one injection of GnRH ≈ $1.80/injection, one injection of PGF2α ≈ $2.50/injection, one CIDR® ≈ $10) ≈ $14.30/female

Additional labor and arm service ≈ $10/female

Semen cost (high accuracy, calving ease Angus bull) ≈ $15.30/female

Total cost/female exposed ≈ $39.60

Total cost/A.I. calf (Assume 100 heifers bred, 65% A.I. conception rate, weaning percent of 90%) ≈ $67.12


     As you can see in this scenario, there is very little difference between the cost/calf of a natural service sired calf vs. and A.I. sired calf.  What happens when you consider your own input costs? We have not yet even considered the economics of things like the potential for genetic gain from using a proven sire, more calves born earlier in the calving season, and a more uniform calf crop.  

     One of the biggest advantages of A.I. is your opportunity to capture genetics from top, proven bulls.  When you are buying a yearling bull to turn out with your heifers, you hope that he is calving ease, and you use EPDs, the animals own performance data, and physical appraisal to make your best guess to if he will be.  But we’ve all heard horror stories about someone who bought a young bull that they thought was supposed to be calving ease and he did not turn out to be that way.  

     Another advantage of synchronization and fixed time A.I. is the ability to have more calves born earlier in the calving season. At the University of Missouri Thompson Farm, calf crop distribution was analyzed for the first 46 days over 10 calving seasons.  There were three years of natural service breeding that included 526 calvings, two years of fixed-time A.I. with 397 calvings, and five years of estrus detection and A.I. with 1,040 calvings.  At the respective day-16 of the calving season 38% of natural service cows had calved, 54% of the estrus detection and A.I. cows had calved, and 62% of the fixed time A.I. cows had calved.  By day 21 of the calving season those numbers were 51%, 59%, and 66% respectively.  When you consider that a calf will gain 2-3lbs/day and calf prices soaring, a calf born earlier in the calving season is worth a lot more than any additional costs that may be associated with A.I.  In addition to heavier calves, a shortened calving season with large numbers of calves sired by the same bull will result in a more uniform calf crop, which we all know is more attractive to calf buyers.


     If you have never considered A.I. before because you believe that it is to expensive, now would be the perfect time to rethink your position.  Run the numbers, you may be surprised that A.I. is right for you.  If you decide that you would like to try A.I. please contact your local Genex Representative.  They are equipped with the knowledge and genetics to make your experience successful!


Author, Sarah Thorson, is our Beef Education Manager. Sarah grew up in Eastern Montana on her family's ranch. She is a graduate of Montana State University and has been a member of the Genex team since 2004. Sarah works closely with the Genex Beef Marketing Staff, providing training to the cooperative's nearly 200 Independent Contractors. She also provides Artificial Insemination training for Genex members and customers and reproductive consulting.