A.I. vs. Natural Breeding (Part 1 of Series)

Calves are being born left and right, and every day we are being bombarded with advertisements for bull sales and the next great A.I. sire. So how do you decide whether to spend the extra money on a top notch herd bull or buy semen on that great looking bull in the magazine?

First off, I am not going to tell you one way is better than the other. That is up to you to decide after looking at both your goals and resources. I will give you the pros and cons of each.

A.I. Breeding
Pros:
-Gives you the opportunity to use superior genetics from a sire that you could never afford to purchase.
-When breeding season is over, you do not have a bull, or a lot of bulls to feed and keep from tearing down every fence on the property.
-Allows the ability to produce consistency withing the calf crop by using a single sire, or a similar genetic line of bulls
-Calves can be born closer together through synchronization.
-Even the smallest herds can get cows bred within budget, rather than purchasing a bull to breed 2, 3, or even 15 cows.

Cons:
-Requires cow to be handled extra, along with requiring better facilities and extra labor to get the job done.
-Time restrains if you have to hire a technician to do the A.I. ing

Natural Breeding
Pros:
-Bull does all the work, so not spending hours heat detecting each day.
-No facilities needed, cows can get bred right out in the pasture.

Cons:
-Can not match each bull to each cow, and sometimes multiple bulls need to be used to breed heifers vs. cows.
-If replacement heifers are being retained, a new or different bull is needed to breed the replacement heifers too.
-Bull must be fed and cared for, even when they are not out breeding cows.
-High quality bulls cost a lot of money vs. the cost to purchase semen from a similar A.I. sire.

Only you can determine which route to take, and really most operations use a combination of both. And to fairly compare the two, each operator needs to break down all the costs associated with both and divide it by the number of cows either being A.I.ed or by the number of cows the bull will breed. You also need to determine which bull (A.I. or bull purchased at bull sale) will take your herd closer to your goals. You are not saving money if you are going the wrong direction.

About the Author:

Zane Mai, owner of ZNT Cattle Co. and ZNT Cattle Services, has been involved in every facet of the cattle industry for over 25 years. His earliest experiences began as a child in Western Nebraska on his family’s beef operation, along with his part time job at a local veterinary clinic. In college, he attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he earned a B.S. in Animal Science with a focus on Beef Production and Reproduction. Zane now resides in Rhome, TX (just Northwest of Dallas-Ft. Worth) where he, his wife, and daughter continue to be very involved in the cattle business with their own cattle operation, and cattle services.

For those wishing to contact Zane for more information, or are interested in the services he provides, visit his website at www.zntcattle.com.