“Therefore, the cost of an AI preg- nancy is about the same as a natural service pregnancy from a $4,000 to $5,500 bull,” Hall pointed out. So, for AI to be incorporated into a commercial cow-calf operation, the results of the fixed-time AI program must bring in additional revenue, Hall stated. “Return to cow exposed is the critical economic indicator.” A hard look at the numbers and research still make fixed-time AI a viable breeding option for many producers. “The greatest opportunity for most cow-calf operations to capitalize on incorporation of estrus synchroniza- tion and AI is by increasing the value of the feeder calf,” he said. “The value of shifting the percentage of calves born early in the calving season as a result of using fixed-time AI cannot be underemphasized.” Hall reminded attendees that for every 21 days a calf is born earlier in the calving season, producers can expect that calf to weigh 35 to 50 pounds more at weaning time. “Depending on how we get our calves marketed, that translates into $50 to $75 per head,” he explained. Another opportunity fixed-time AI offers is to incorporate a variety of genetics. For example, bulls with ter- minal traits can be used for operations whose intent is to sell offspring, regard- less of calf gender, which could also increase weaning weights. In our 300- head cow herd example, a 5 percent increase in calves born early, weaned 30 pounds heavier and sold at $137.60 per hundredweight results in a more than $13,000 return from AI compared to natural service alone.
“These ‘curve-bender’ bulls are often too expensive to buy as natural service sires, but can easily be accessed by AI,” Hall explained. Research at the University of Idaho conducted over the last six years has shown heifers bred via AI weaned calves that were 73 pounds heavier than heifers bred natural service. “This weight advantage is a reflec- tion of both age at weaning and greater growth potential,” Hall said. Further, Hall explained, heterosis from crossbreeding increases calves’ weaning weights and females’ longev- ity, and allows producers to choose bulls that meet the maternal and frame size characteristics best suited for their operation.
“These examples illustrate that pro- ducers need to do their own calculations and have reasonable expectations on returns from fixed-time AI,” Hall said. Likewise, bulls offering more mater- nal traits could be used for operations whose focus is creating replacement females, Hall pointed out. “Heifers that calve earlier in their first calving season stay in the herd longer and produce more pounds of calf during their lifetime than heifers calving later,” Hall said. “The fewer cows we have to turn over, the greater value we’re going to get back from the herd – those cows have to be several years old before they start paying money back to the operation to cover the cost of heifer development.” AI also allows for the use of high- accuracy, calving-ease bulls who main- tain above-average growth genetics.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 39
SANTA GERTRUDIS USA
Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online