Cow herd breeding that once took three weeks of intensive labor has been cut to three hours. Jordan Thomas, University of Missouri graduate student, reviewed breeding history for farmers touring Greenley Center Field Day.
Thomas told how artificial insemination (AI) of beef cows at the MU research farm results in more uniform, high-quality calves. Calves with better genetics sell for more.
In the past AI breeding required heat checks of cow herds, morning and night, day after day. Now, a herd can be synchronized for breeding on one day.
Thomas explained how farmers already use fixed-time artificial-insemination protocols to improve calves.
"There are protocols for just about every situation," Thomas said, handing out a two-page guide of approved systems.
"We're working to improve what we already have," Thomas told visitors on the beef tour, one of three options. Crops, pest management and natural resources were topics on other tours
"We're developing a modified protocol for farmers already getting good pregnancy rates on their cows bred in one day." Thomas works on the MU beef reproduction team, headed by Dave Patterson, MU Extension specialist.
The researchers, as with other studies at Greenley, come from the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, Columbia.
The new AI protocol tested at Greenley this spring increased pregnancy rates.
A visitor on a tour wagon asked for a copy. "We're not ready yet," Thomas said. "The data has not been published." That means it hasn't been peer reviewed by other scientists and printed in a scientific journal.
Thomas added that 83 cows bred here were too few to be statistically sound. But, the team used the new protocol on 1,000 cows this spring. That includes MU Thompson Farm and private ranches.