Benefits of Estrus Synchronization
and Artificial Insemination
STILLWATER, Okla. (Oct. 8, 2014) — Of all the cow-calf producers in the United States, relatively few utilize estrus synchronization and artificial insemination (AI). Roger Wann believes more producers should consider the advantages of these underutilized technologies. Speaking Oct. 8 at the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) symposium in Stillwater, Okla., Wann talked about the advantages synchronized AI affords his family’s operation.
“Synchronization is the delivery system for genetic improvement that allows us to get cows pregnant through AI,” stated Wann.
“For our seedstock enterprise, early-born AI-sired progeny have the most value,” said Roger Wann. “When we started selling bulls, those sired by cleanup bulls typically sold for about $500 less than AI-sired bulls."
Along with his father and brother, Wann operates Wann Ranch in southeastern Oklahoma, where AI has been employed since 1984. They have used several different protocols designed to synchronize estrus in cows and heifers. Wann is convinced that synchronized AI offers benefits to both commercial producers and seedstock breeders.
“For the commercial operation, a big benefit comes from producing calves that are of uniform age and weight when they are marketed,” said Wann. “That’s because more calves will be born in the first 50 days of the calving season. In my experience, those are the calves that generate virtually all of your potential profit.”
Access to superior genetics is a benefit available to both commercial and seedstock producers. Seedstock breeders also benefit from producing calves that fit within tight contemporary groups.
“For our seedstock enterprise, early-born AI-sired progeny have the most value,” added Wann. “When we started selling bulls, those sired by cleanup bulls typically sold for about $500 less than AI-sired bulls. That gap has widened significantly. It’s not just bulls either. Our AI-sired heifers bring $800 to $1,000 more than heifers sired by cleanup bulls.”
While some producers go to great lengths in an attempt to get all replacement heifers bred, Wann Ranch does not. Wann even claims to be a fan of brief exposure to cleanup bulls after AI. It’s okay, he says, to have 15% open heifers and, in effect, weed out heifers that probably weren’t meant to be brood cows.
“Some of them, maybe 5% to 8%, would not breed anyway. Another 5% to 8% are slow breeders. So we’re getting rid of those,” said Wann. “Long term, we can have a 90% pregnancy rate among young cows. To get there, you have to put pressure on them as heifers.”
To producers contemplating synchronization and AI, Wann recommended strict adherence to whichever protocol is applied to synchronize estrus. Plan to perform all required steps at the appropriate times.
“You’re actually synchronizing ovulation, and it’s really important to get it right,” stressed Wann.
Wann spoke during Wednesday’s ARSBC session focused on the economic impact of reproductive technologies. For more information, visit the Newsroom at www.appliedreprostrategies.com to view his PowerPoint or listen to his presentation.
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.
Editor's Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of the Angus Journal. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270.