“Producers need to learn how to research genetics and to understand how to monitor a cow’s heat cycle. If you have a great technique but poor timing, it will be wasted effort,” she said. “An AI program gives producers the opportunity to create uniformity in their herds.”

Mike Howell, an Extension area livestock specialist based in Lee County, was one of the original instructors in the first classes and continues to help producers gain an understanding of genetics and artificial insemination.

“The workshop is helpful even if it teaches people not to do the artificial insemination themselves,” he said. “The information they gain in the classroom will help them in whatever method they choose for their reproduction program.”

Howell said many factors can contribute to the success or failure of an AI procedure, and the class addresses those issues as well as giving participants supervised practice.

“Beginners may only have a 25 percent success rate, while people more experienced with the procedure will be successful 55 to 80 percent of the time,” he said.

Howell said bulls are expensive to maintain and eventually must be replaced.

“An AI program makes producers better managers, no matter how many cattle they have. They become better managers because of how closely they are watching the cattle,” he said. “It makes them aware of all the factors that go into herd improvement. If people come to the class and never practice AI, they will benefit from the experience because it touches on so many aspects of herd management.”

 

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Dr. Linda Farris of Brookhaven, Miss., a 1987 graduate of MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, took part in the spring 2013 class. Focusing primarily on small animals in her Brookhaven veterinary practice, she wanted a refresher course on cattle, especially since she has started raising Red Brahman cattle.

“All medicine is a continuous learning process, and it’s always good to learn new techniques,” she said. “I have had much more experience with dogs. I needed practice with cattle and experts’ advice to make sure what I was doing was correct. AI is one of those procedures that you just can’t watch someone do. We needed the opportunity to handle the cattle.”

Farris said artificial insemination will give her access to better bulls for her registered herd.

 

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