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Copyright © 2015
Angus Journal


AI System Requires No Heat Detection, Results in More Premiums for Quality

JOPLIN, Mo. (Aug. 31, 2011) — Mike Kasten has tried just about every strategy in 37 years of artificial insemination (AI) on his cow herd. Observation two or three times a day gave way to MGA, then prostaglandin and pregnant mare serum. Syncro-Mate B, limited suckling, early weaning and more technical estrus synchronizing programs.

“None have worked remotely as well as the fixed-time AI (FTAI) breeding protocols we are using today,” the Millersville, Mo., rancher told attendees Wednesday, Aug. 31, at the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) meeting in Joplin, Mo.

Those protocols were developed by Dave Patterson’s reproductive physiology team at the University of Missouri (MU). On heifers, Kasten uses “Show-Me Synch,” which calls for a 14-day CIDR insertion with prostaglandin at removal and breeding 66 hours later with a shot of GnRH. Cows get the 7-day CO-Synch + CIDR plan with prostaglandin at removal and insemination 66 hours later with GnRH. That yields 60%-70% pregnancy, about 5 percentage points better than the heifers get.

Mike Kasten knows there will be temptation to breed cows on observed heat, but he offered four reasons not to: "It's a waste of time, it causes confusion, goes against the commitment to discipline you need for FTAI, and it might cause you to do something you'll regret."

These strategies work in the several hundred home cows and those of cooperator herds in the Mike Kasten Beef Alliance. “That’s an extension of our herd,” he said. “Producers own their cows and I provide records management. I pick the bulls and replacement heifers, too.”

Other AI protocols were higher labor and less effective, but the current ones “get easier the more you do it.” Despite four trips through the chute, they require little more than five minutes from Kasten and a helper per female bred. “With fall calving, FTAI is a must because there is too little daylight to observe heats,” he said. “We no longer detect heat at all.”

Kasten knows the temptation will always be there to take action when a high-indexing cow or promising heifer shows early heat, but he offered four reasons to resist: “It’s a waste of time, it causes confusion, goes against the commitment to discipline you need for FTAI, and it might cause you to do something you’ll regret.”

Elaborating with an example on his cow protocol, he said, “It’s not called ‘7-day’ because it sounds good. That timing is required. I’ve heard, ‘Oh, we didn’t see those in heat so we didn’t breed them.’ These protocols can get more than 60% of anestrous cows to conceive. Trust the technology,” Kasten advised.

Among the beneficial side effects are a “stimulative effect” on fertility, moving cows forward into their second cycle. “They get four chances to breed in 65 days,” he explained. “This has moved pregnancy from first reason to maybe third reason to cull, so we can look at performance and other factors.

“Within the Alliance, FTAI (compared to natural service before those herds joined) has resulted in calves 11 days older with more uniform, predictable genetics,” Kasten said.

Not all cows are a perfect fit for the technology; some rarely settle but the majority that do, continue to do so; 61% of his 2001-born cows are still producing.

FTAI allows Kasten to operate with one cleanup bull per pasture, he said, eliminating guesswork on sire groups. That helps in tracking data, which is another strong point in his system.

He showed a line graph of quality grades advancing toward 80% Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand acceptance, including Prime.  Some cow families stack five or six generations with above-average breed genetics for marbling. Stacking just three generations gets 100% CAB and Prime in his records.

With the Prime premiums today, that’s a $177.48-per-head advantage over the starting point in the Alliance.

“Weather, markets, politics, the neighbor’s bull — genetics is the one thing you truly control. What a risk management tool,” Kasten said.

Visit the Newsroom at www.appliedreprostrategies.com to view the PowerPoint slides and the proceedings paper submitted by Kasten to accompany his presentation. Audio of the presentation will be available soon.

Kasten spoke during Wednesday morning's opening ARSBC session focused on using AI to produce more high-quality beef. Complete coverage of the symposium will be available online at www.appliedreprostrategies.com. Compiled by Angus Productions Inc. (API), the site is made possible through sponsorship by the Beef Reproductive Task Force, SEK Genetics, and liveauctions.tv. Coverage includes summaries of the speaker presentations, PowerPoints, proceedings and audio.

Editor's Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API), which claims copyright to this article. It may not be published or redistributed without the express permission of API, publisher of the Angus Journal, Angus Beef Bulletin, Angus e-List and Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270.