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Breeding box reduces stress when artificially inseminating cows.

I received a call last Friday morning from my friend Paul, who lives a mile north of us on Upland Colony, a Hutterite community. He invited me to come visit, as they were artificially inseminating (AI) 120 of their 500 mama cows using a new breeding box they built.

Excited, I grabbed my camera, pulled on my boots and met Paul for a tour of their cattle facilities. Upon arriving to the breeding site, I saw Angus cows being worked through a corral into a chute, where they received their breeding shots, and finally pushed into the breeding box.

They called it, “The Double Barrel,” because they could breed two cows at once. Basically, the breeding box is a dark box that is completely enclosed. Once inside, the cow walks into one of the two chutes, where a bar drops behind the cow. A cloth hangs down, just barely grazing her topline. This is to keep the cow from seeing what’s behind her. With the bar keeping her in place, and no head gate to fight, the cow stands quietly in the soothing darkness, while the AI technician is free to do his job.

Once the AI technician is finished, hydraulics release the cow. The front opens up, and the cow walks out -- a little dazed by the bright sunlight but otherwise unfazed by the experience.

Ray, the head cow boss, explained to me that the breeding box reduces stress on the cattle, resulting in higher conception rates. He estimated that the job of breeding 120 cows would take only a couple of hours, as the cows tend to move quickly through the setup. All the cows had been synchronized earlier using CIDRs. Once the breeding was finished, the pairs would be put back out to pasture.

They were kind enough to allow me to take pictures while they were working. You can check out the photo gallery of their breeding box system here.

I’m very impressed by the breeding box. In fact, we plan to implement this technology into our own breeding facility within a couple of years.

Do you AI your cows? If so, what kind of setup do you use? What have you found works best to increase conception rates?

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

charles sheetz (not verified)
on Jun 23, 2012

Hi Amanda,
As a beef producer engaged in the sale of our Limousin lean freezer beef, I was annoyed at the unfair comparison of ground beef to ground turkey in the St.John's Hospital publication "Inspiring Health". St. John's Hospital specializes in cardiac care for Central Illinois and its quarterly publication has good information on St.John's services along with tips for your health.
The article was about finding substitutes for less-than-healthy foods that grant the same taste satisfaction with better health benefits resulting in a more nutritious diet that is easier to maintain.
The USUAL: Ground beef (70% lean) 1OZ
The USUAL: Ground turkey 1OZ
GROUND BEEF (1OZ) GROUND TURKEY (1OZ)
93 calories 65 calories
8g fat 3.65g fat
4g protein 7.6g protein

My objections and comments:
1. I do not get the same taste satisfaction with turkey
burger as with beef burger
2. Someone who is wanting a healthier diet would likely
purchase 90% lean ground beef, not 70%
3. This is not meant to be a scientific comparison, but one
expects more from a hospital based publication

With our beef and by having the processor cut off all the external fat before grinding we are able to achieve 95% or better lean ground beef. This can be duplicated for many shoppers if they are more selective in where and how they shop.
Would you please enlighten all of us, especially St. John's Hospital, with a more equitable more scientific comparison of ground beef with ground turkey?
A starting place for contacting St.John's Hospital for the Eat Well Be Well program is www.prairieheart.com/cfi

Darcy (not verified)
on Jun 25, 2012

We own a breeding box too (it's a double Large Breeding Barn) and LOVE it! My husband and his friend AI heifers/cows for other ranches too, and have really noticed a difference with the box. Every rancher we've helped breed likes the box too because of how quietly their cattle work through it.

While they're not a cheap investment, an AI box is definitely a worthwhile investment. They come in all sizes and price points, and you can even build your own.

I've blogged about our box here:
http://sscharolais.blogspot.com/2012/05/home-stretch.html
http://sscharolais.blogspot.com/2012/05/breeding-at-feedlot.html
http://sscharolais.blogspot.com/2012/04/everything-but-kitchen-sink.html
http://sscharolais.blogspot.com/2012/01/7-up.html

Happy AI'ing!
Darcy

Katy Kemp (not verified)
on Jun 25, 2012

Thanks for sharing Amanda!

These Mobile Breeding Barns are a great tool and widely used in the Beef AI industry. Marvin Large, an ABS Global Representative at the time, first pioneered the construction and use of the barns used today by Representatives across the U.S. today.

Several local ABS Representatives utilize these barns in set ups to assist "delivering AI" to breeders who otherwise wouldn't have access to chutes or working pens.

A video with one of these barns in use can be found here:
http://www.absglobal.com/beef-videos1

Thanks and may everyone have a great rest of the AI season!

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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