My View From The Country

Some Thoughts On The True Cost Of AI

The estimates by artificial insemination experts on what an AI program costs don’t factor in many of my important items of overhead.

My wife has worked in the artificial insemination (AI) industry for well over a decade, an amazing feat considering she’s only 29. As a result of that experience, she has numerous worksheets and reams of real world data that indicate what it should cost to AI a set of cows. Using these numbers, AI makes tremendous sense from a cost standpoint, a herd improvement standpoint, and from a uniformity and marketing view.

That said, however, the last several years, I’ve had to take it upon myself to show her the real cost of AI. There are just a whole host of things for which her spreadsheets don’t account. For instance, nowhere in her projections does she account for the need to have an expensive cutting horse to bring hot cows in.

Nor do her figures include the necessity of covering the chute. She also didn’t factor in the reduced conception rate created when dad and the kids had to practice cutting with those heifers while they were heat.

In addition, she didn’t calculate the cost of having to put in CIDRs twice in order to work around the horse show schedule that became a necessity with the new horse. Somehow, she doesn’t believe the six hours of last-minute trips meeting semen salesman in little towns to pick up the 10 units of bull X that we forgot to order should be included either.

Then there is the cost of blood-typing 30 calves, which became a necessity when a crazy tomcat that was locked in the AI barn shredded two pages of records. And she flat out refuses to charge the AI project for all the expensive ideas I come up with while riding along checking heat. She even said no, when I tried to add in the cost of the chiropractor bill.

In exasperation, I explained to her that we had to have accurate enterprise accounting if we were going to be able to make good decisions; she agreed and this is what I got back.

Out-of-pocket cost of an AI pregnancy – $83/cow, the additional cost of incompetent management – $112/cow! Good manager that I am, I studied the breakdown and had to agree the numbers were right, but I made two final management decisions.

• Since we can’t get our money back out of the horse right now, we’d better keep him 5-10 years to allow the horse market to improve.

• I put her in charge of the whole darn AI program next year.  After all you can’t blame the help you can only blame the manager.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jun 12, 2014

*Excellent Health and Nutrition Program*
CIDR - $10.79
Estrotect Patch - $1.16
Lutalyse / Estrumate - $3.00
(2) Cystorellin - $4.00
Semen - $20.00
Shoulder Length Glove - $0.25
NolvaLube - $0.10
$43.30 Total
CIDR In Day 0 + Cystorellin (2ml)
CIDR Out Day 7 + Lut
Heat Detection - Someone that is serious
Breeding on the AM/ PM rule - another dose of Cystorellin at breeding helps as well.

*Note - All cows that cycle within 7 days of inserting a CIDR should be bred on their natural heat instead
**Note - For that odd cow that is in standing heat at 2 PM and breeding on the AM/PM rule would mean a 2 AM breed time -- instead get her up at 5 PM give her a 2ml dose of Cystorelin then breed her at 8 PM.
***Note Cows that weigh over 1350 lbs should get 6 ml dose of Lutalyse instead of 5 ml dose.

Immediately sever all ties with the Manager that is costing you $112/head for AI; sell that hay burner and if he/she complains tell them Wal-Mart is Hiring

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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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