Thursday, June 12, 2014

Using Sexed Semen...

Ha...I got your attention!  Not exactly what you usually read on my posts, is it?

But before I get into that...I know I've been slacking in my blogging lately. We've been most of you are...and other things have to take priority sometimes.  I'm finally getting around to "spring" cleaning my house, and it's almost mid June!  The garden is growing...the grass is growing even faster...and the cows still demand attention on a regular basis.  There just aren't enough hours in the day for everything, are there?

That said...I'll move on to explain that title...

Last night I was downstairs late...reading.  Jim had asked me to check on a springing heifer before I came to bed, so around 10:45 I slipped on my boots, grabbed a flashlight and headed out to the barn.  He had checked her an hour or so before, and she was fine. It was just starting to rain, and of course she was outside by herself, with just the tip of one little hoof showing.  I got her into the barn, closed the gate and put some fresh fodder in the pen.  At this point everything looked fine, so I went inside for a few minutes in hopes that she would lay down and have her calf on her own.

When I checked her again, I saw more of just one leg, and now a nose as well, but no sign of the other leg.  So...I woke up Jim.  He came out, donned a plastic sleeve and was able to find and pull the other leg front and we helped her deliver her calf.

The result was this little heifer calf...the newest member of the herd...

Of course it's not unusual to have a heifer calf, but it is unusual for us to be expecting a heifer calf.

We primarily breed our animals artificially (AI), and we usually breed our 14-15 month old heifers to a Jersey, which results in a smaller calf, thus an easy delivery, allowing the new Mom a better chance to get off to a good start.

Last summer though, we had two heifers that Jim decided to breed using sexed semen, which results in a very high percentage of calves in the gender you want.  In our case, heifers.  Last night's calf was one of those.

It was interesting, watching this heifer as she got close to her due date...wondering if the calf would, in fact, be a heifer.  The other heifer that was bred last summer apparently didn't settle (conceive) , so we'll expect a little Jersey calf from her sometime later this summer, from the Jersey bull at the other farm.

There's always something new to learn!


  1. Congratulations on the new heifer. She looks pretty content.

    We've debated wether or not sexing our semen but we thought that we might get too many heifers for our need. We used to do a lot of artificial breeding but we've used our own bull and got more cows pregnant. We had breeding problems last summer because it was so hot and now we have less births lately.
    It's such a balancing act this breeding program.

    Take care and enjoy your weekend.

  2. yay for no surprises and being home to help her deliver, too! :)

  3. We talked to a farmer last night about his breeding program. They use both their own bull and AI, trying to build up a shorthorn beef herd. It's absolutely fascinating to hear about all the genetics involved!

  4. Here I thought I had a complicated job. Sexed semen, AI, or just plain old bull and even then what type of bull. For a few years dad would put a longhorn bull on the heifers. Talk about a surprise with every birth. Those little buggers were every color of the rainbow and hit the ground running. Of course when it comes to sales, every color of the rainbow isn't exactly what is looked for in beef cattle. It was still fun calving.

  5. My goodness, complicated stuff!
    Glad the calf is healthy and just what you were expecting.

    My husband helped run a dairy farm in his youth {many, many moons ago :)} I always read your blog, and then ask him farming questions.
    My grandpa farmed all his life, but then his farms were crop farms. Love your posts, and I always learn something new :)

    Have a great weekend!


  6. Welcome a new life to the world!! What an adorable little one :-)

  7. Glad the little one is healthy...a real cutie :-)

  8. Beautiful beautiful baby heifer. Just hope that little semen trick doesn't become popular with humans.

  9. Thanks for an interesting post.

  10. I didn't know that having a cow bred with AI had come this far. I remember when I asked my Dad if I could learn to do that for a living, he was completely horrified. He did send my brother to learn to do that. My Dad was always doing our cows that way and traded, now this is weird, semen with other ranchers he knew and it was like gold as they talked about bulls and such. Sometimes if he had something rare money changed hands. I don't think I have ever told anyone about this but now that it has come this far gosh that is just amazing. Being able to get heifers. That is amazing. Gosh can you imagine me telling someone this over tea. :)

  11. Congrats on your heifer!! We had one born yesterday!! Always exciting.
    We use AI too. I've heard of sexed semen, and I'm glad you got the heifer you paid for. The family and I were talking about birth and after birth at supper last night. Crazy things that you talk about while you eat when you live on a farm!!

  12. What a cutie! Glad you got just what you wanted. Maxine never settled with AI-ing her. She has to have the bull.

  13. Why oh why do they always do that at night? We've pulled a lot of them and rearranged legs or whatever and they always do it at night. Yawn.... Lovely calf. :)


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