Home > Local cattle producers advised to adopt new fixed-time AI protocols to save time and maximise genetic gain

Local cattle producers advised to adopt new fixed-time AI protocols to save time and maximise genetic gain

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Cattle producers in New South Wales are being encouraged to implement new synchronisation procedures in their breeding programs.

Currently revolutionising the global beef industry, the new fixed-time artificial insemination (FTAI) protocols involve advanced treatment to stimulate and synchronise ovulation within commercial herds, enabling mass insemination while eliminating the need for conventional but time-consuming and difficult heat detection programs.

Livestock reproductive expert David Plant from Southern Cross Genetics believes FTAI is one of the most effective ways for producers to reduce costs, simplify their breeding programs and maximise the genetic advancement of their herd.

Mr Plant explains that FTAI allows AI to take place at one time, generating considerable savings on labour while heat detection takes a tremendous amount of time and skill, and is prone to errors. He adds that FTAI allows animals to be inseminated regardless of whether they show heat or not, which allows producers to avoid heat detection errors, as well as save time and hassle.

New South Wales cattle farmer Susie Chisholm from Adelong who has embraced FTAI, says the concept has improved her breeding program, reduced labour costs and eliminated the hassle from AI programs. In addition to significant time savings, the process reduces the stress levels of animals as they are handled less while also allowing cattle farmers to fertilise all cows and heifers early in the breeding season.

Stimulating ovulation, not the expression of heat, FTAI involves the use of the same hormones cows and heifers normally release during their oestrus cycle. Many producers may have been used to synchronisation programs utilising CIDR, which has been tried and trusted for a long time in Australian cattle. This newer process still involves the insertion of a CIDR, but combines it with a new series of injections.

According to Mr Plant, the advanced protocols, including CIDR and GnRH generate reliable ovulation amongst both cows and heifers. Conception rates from FTAI programs in 2011 have varied from 45-80% with results consistently achieved in the 60-75% range, especially in cows.

Given the positive results and time-saving advantages of FTAI, several timed AI programs have been developed for beef cows. Factors such as nutrition, reproductive history, effective AI sires, animal vaccination status for diseases such as pestivirus, available time and labour, and adequate insemination facilities can influence the success of the AI program and help determine the FTAI program best suited for a particular beef operation.

Pointing out that FTAI is not a silver bullet to breeding success, Mr Plant emphasises the need for proper reproductive management, nutrition and heifer development to optimise any AI program. 

Zoetis is committed to the health and wellbeing of animals by providing reliable and effective medications for livestock animals.

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