AI still the best choice

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Evidence against the use of herd bulls continues to mount.

According to a recent economic analysis by the University of Wisconsin Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project, using AI breeding exclusively yields up to $79 more net income per cow per year than natural-service bulls.

The analysis, conducted by Gunnar Josefsson, dairy scientist with the Biological Systems Engineering department at the University of Wisconsin, shows that in a 200-cow herd, AI breeding earns $21 to $33 more net income per cow per year than natural-service bulls. And, using AI breeding for heifers is even more profitable. The analysis shows that using AI breeding for heifers contributes an extra $30 to $46 in net income per cow per year. Together, that results in an economic advantage of $51 to $79 per cow per year in a 200-cow herd that uses conventional AI breeding (no synchronization). The table below summarizes the results.

To arrive at these findings, Josefsson assessed the cost of reproductive maintenance service and semen purchased for AI breeding. He also calculated the genetic advantage of AI breeding based on the present economic value of higher production among AI sires’ daughters in the first and following generations.

He included the cost of ownership, feed, infertility, facility wear and tear and lost milk production associated with housing a bull rather than a cow in the assessment of natural-service breeding cost.

Despite a decline in cow fertility, artificial insemination is still more profitable than using natural-service sires. It also provides a safer work place, reduces liability and provides peace of mind, Josefsson says.

A two-page tip sheet entitled “Artificial insemination: Still profitable!” can be found at the Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Web site: http://bse.wisc.edu/hfhp/

AI’s economic advantage

This cost comparison shows whole-herd AI breeding earns $51 to $79 more net income per cow per year than natural-service bulls. Results are for a 200-cow herd that uses conventional AI breeding.

AI Sires

Cow breeding

Heifer breeding
($ per cow per year advantage)

Whole herd

Average net merit

$21

$30

$51

High net merit

$33

$46

$79

Source: University of Wisconsin Healthy Farmers, Healthy Profits Project.



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