We are continuing the "next generation" blog posts with showing you a common way a heifer on a dairy gets pregnant. Hopefully you have had the chance to look at the previous posts called "A New Arrival," "At the Calf Nursery" and "The Big Girl Corrals." Here is a brief explanation of how artificial insemination is used to impregnate a heifer or cow.
Most dairies have an age and size requirement for their heifers before they will start allowing them to get pregnant. This is to make sure they are healthy and sufficiently matured enough to carry a calf. The farm vet may assist the dairy farmer in this area by evaluating the animals. Once they pass inspection, they are put in a special pen where a "breeder" passes through, every day, to see if any of the animals are "in heat" (ready to breed). The breeder finds those that are ready and uses a thin pipette to deposit semen from a carefully selected bull into the uterus. Bing, bang, boom, and it's done! The breeders are very experienced in doing this and it causes no harm to the animal whatsoever. Good breeders are gentle and patient with the animals. Watch the video below to see how it's done!
You may ask, why aren't real bulls used to breed the cows? Some dairy farmers do use bulls for breeding and some may use a combination of breeding bulls and artificial insemination. It is a management and health choice. Artificial insemination reduces the risk of venereal diseases being spread in a herd and allows dairymen to match specific cows with desired bulls. Some producers have gotten away from using solely bulls as it presents a danger to people working with them. Again, it is a management choice and each dairy farmer will decide what is best suited for them.