Cost, benefit study shows AI pays off

SASKATOON — At least one Sask-atchewan study shows that cattle producers who use fixed time artificial insemination in their herds can see greater economic returns.

Travis Peardon, a regional livestock specialist and producer near Outlook, Sask., said a 2012 study involving three herds of heifers found the procedure cost producers more, but they made it back in bigger weaned calves.

“The AI calves were definitely smaller but it didn’t take them long to catch up to their natural service counterparts in the herd,” Peardon told the recent Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference.

Half of the heifers in each herd were bred naturally and half were artificially inseminated.

The study aimed for conception rate of 50 percent, but all three herds averaged 67 percent.

The weaning weight advantage over the naturally sired calves was 16, 27 and 174 pounds on the three farms.

“That isn’t a typo,” Peardon said.

The genetics worked amazingly well at the one operation, he added.

Peardon calculated that the extra weight, at a price of $1.55 per lb. at the time, earned extra value for the producers of $24.80, $41.85 and $269.70.

It cost them $18 more to use the AI program, including a technician, when compared to a $4,000 bull, he said. The advantage ranged from $7 to $250 when those costs were calculated.

Peardon said the economic advantage isn’t the only reason for cattle producers to use AI.

The increased performance of heifers retained in the herd is a big factor. Using highly accurate EPD sires means the heifers can be rebred sooner and will calve easier, he added.

The calving period is also more concentrated.

Challenges include handling facilities, time and convincing older generations to try the procedure.

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