How Do I Profit from AI? …
A Retained Ownership Perspective
Terry Slusher profits from improved reproduction.
by Troy Smith for Angus Journal
STAUNTON, Va. (Oct. 15, 2013) — Five years ago, it cost 82¢ to produce $1 of income from Terry Slusher’s beef cattle operation. Now, each dollar of income requires an investment of 56¢. During the same period, his income per cow has increased by more than 90%.
“For my operation, heat detection is a waste of time,” said Virginia cattleman Terry Slusher. He relies on a synchronized fixed-time AI program.
The Floyd, Va., cattleman talked about keys to improving the profitability of his operation during the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) Symposium hosted Oct. 15-16 in Staunton, Va. Slusher said his bottom line has benefited from maximizing the time cows spend grazing, while minimizing use of harvested feed, and from genetic improvement.
For about half of the improvement in profitability, Slusher credited genetic advancement through synchronized artificial insemination (AI). All of his fall-calving cows and his replacement heifers have been bred AI since 1995. Carcass data collected on steers owned all the way to slaughter is used for fine-tuning future sire selection. Listing the advantages, Slusher said AI makes crossbreeding easy and results in more females becoming pregnant early in the breeding season.
As a result of synchronized AI, greater than 89% of Slusher’s calves are born in the first 30 days of the calving season. Early-born calves are then heavier at weaning. Slusher retains ownership of steers, and the AI steers are worth more at harvest due to heavier hot carcass weights. AI-sired steers also produce more carcasses that achieve Choice or better quality grade.
“Over the last five years, the ‘return to cow’ for AI-sired calves was $104 more than for calves sired by natural service,” said Slusher. “AI-sired steers averaged 38.6 pounds heavier for hot carcass weight.”
Slusher also said implementation of synchronization protocols for fixed-time AI (FTAI) has eliminated costs for time and labor associated with heat detection. Still, conception rates to AI are near 70%.
“For my operation,” said Slusher, “heat detection is a waste of time.”
Slusher spoke during Tuesday’s ARSBC session focused on how different segments of the industry profit from AI. For more information, visit the Newsroom at www.appliedreprostrategies.com to listen to his presentation and to view his PowerPoint slides.
Comprehensive coverage of the symposium is available online at www.appliedreprostrategies.com. Compiled by the Angus Journal editorial team, the site is made possible through sponsorship by the Beef Reproduction Task Force.