My View From The Country

I’m Likely In The Minority, But I Love Heat Detecting

Heat detection is the one time of the year when quiet time and planning sessions can be greatly reduced, because they occur organically.

Action always seems to be rewarded. Execution seems to be more critical than vision. He who hesitates loses. We all have heard and understand the value of such advice and, as I grow older, it seems clearer that bold action, even if taken in the wrong direction, is preferable to hesitation. Of course, I’m sure the business experts will tell you that there is a balance, standing in the middle of the road tends to lead to getting run over, but it also prevents one from running into the ditch as well.

I love quotes like “working on the business vs. working in the business,” and I believe in Stephen Covey’s advice to work on the important and not just the urgent. However, the day-to-day mode of operation in our business is primarily dealing with the urgent, often neglecting the important until it becomes critically urgent.

That’s exactly why I love heat detecting and artificial insemination (AI) season. First off, I’ll admit that I’ve used heat-detection patches in the past, and even relied almost exclusively on them from time to time. However, if one is going to do a good job of heat detecting, it necessitates expending time.

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Heat detecting forces one to slow down and observe; it also provides the observer with ample time to think. I’m always amazed about the clarity, excitement, and forethought that emerges out of AI season. While I’m a huge believer in AI from a genetic, uniformity and consistency standpoint, I think its greatest contribution to our operation is how it forces us to slow down and think for a couple of hours per day.

Of course, I can race out to the pasture on an ATV and gather hot cows, but doing so cuts down on the long-term strategic planning that is so desperately needed. But saddling up a horse in the early dawn lends to an atmosphere of introspection, and it’s a relaxed sense that continues during the leisurely trot out to the cows and the time spent just sitting there and observing. Heat detection is the one time of the year when quiet time and planning sessions can be greatly reduced, because they occur organically. 

Sometimes it’s good to have a job that takes time, but allows for thought without a lot of other distractions. I can honestly say that after every AI season, my operation is better prepared for the future.

The opinions of Troy Marshall are not necessarily those of or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

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Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 2, 2014

I was really hoping to see some information on how to heat detect, what to look for and timing that you then have to work with.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 2, 2014

Now usually I am at the opposite end of the spectrum of Troy's articles, but really really liked and agreed with this one. !

For AI info, it is pretty basic and you can find all you need to know on various websites. Google heat detection, AI, or:

on May 2, 2014

I see your point, it is always nice to have some practical advice on detecting heat.
However sometimes we just have to focus on and enjoy why our life style / business is so appealing to us.

on May 2, 2014

Nice article. I have a couple of jobs that I can't always say I like but I feel the same way, they force me to slow down. I have been wanting to go AI on my cows, you may have just gave me a very good reason to do it.

Anonymous (not verified)
on May 2, 2014

I have been AI breeding now for about a year and a half. Through my experiences to this point, heat detection is by far the most difficult part. Although it is a very rewarding practice. I enjoy it!

Jerry Gustin (not verified)
on May 3, 2014

I try to get my calves to come in early Fall, so I'm heat detecting in December or January. I see the most mounting late at night, so I go out after 10pm. It is cold and quiet, and I'm happy when I observe secondary signs or standing heat. Good time to dream about the calves I'm going to get or whatever, but it does give you a chance to slow down and dream a little. Excellent article Troy--we all need to take a little time to slow down and enjoy the work we are doing!

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contributor Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.


Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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