How Do I Profit from AI?:
A Seedstock Perspective
Knoll Crest Farms benefits from technology.
STAUNTON, Va. (Oct. 15, 2013) — Paul Bennett says he sometimes fears his family’s Red House, Va., seedstock operation is “behind the curve” in implementing technology. Still, Bennett resists becoming too set in his ways. Always questioning the status quo, he looks for ways to improve beef cattle production at Knoll Crest Farms.
“AI and embryo transfer allow for genetic improvement at a relatively rapid rate through the use of highly proven bulls,” said Paul Bennett of Knoll Crest Farms.
In a presentation to the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) Symposium hosted Oct.15-16, in Staunton, Va., Bennett talked about technologies applied to produce the 400 bulls marketed annually at Knoll Crest. The objective, he said, is to provide customers with bulls suited to an environment where tall fescue is the dominant forage.
Bennett said bull development has changed in recent years. Bulls are now grown on pasture and fed for modest gains of 2.5-3.25 pounds (lb.) per day. Greater emphasis on a diet consisting primarily of forages has resulted in lighter yearling weights but increased structural soundness.
Explaining the application of synchronized artificial insemination (AI), Bennett said replacement females are bred a week ahead of mature cows, using a 14-day CIDR® protocol. On average, a conception rate of 65% is achieved among heifers following first service to AI. A seven-day CIDR protocol is used for cows. Conception rates for fall-calving cows are near 80%, while spring-calvers average near 65%.
“We use heat (detection) patches and breed twice a day, but I anticipate a change to timed AI. We’re gaining more confidence in that technology,” said Bennett.
“AI and embryo transfer allow for genetic improvement at a relatively rapid rate through the use of highly proven bulls,” added Bennett. “We’re seeing as high as 75% to 80% conception with fresh embryos. Embryo transfer has become more user-friendly than in the past.”
Bennett called ultrasound technology a “great tool,” allowing early determination of pregnancy. Knoll Crest Farms uses ultrasound to determine fetal gender in a high percentage of females. That allows for marketing of groups of females carrying calves of the same sex.
An advocate of whole-herd reporting, Bennett said the practice is beneficial to respective breed associations and helps individual breeders better evaluate their breeding programs and move toward production of cattle that are more problem-free.
Bennett 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.
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.