Using Estrous Synchronization and Artificial Insemination to Increase the Competitiveness and Profitability of Beef Farms

Worksite Location
CCE Yates County - Northwest New York (NWNY) Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team
Faculty Sponsor
Michael Baker, Senior Extension Associate, Animal Science
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Nancy Glazier, Extension Support Specialist, NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team
Stipend Amount
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

Estrous synchronization (ES) and artificial insemination (AI) of beef cattle has been shown to increase genetic quality of progeny and be economically competitive with natural service. While this technology is size neutral, it has not been well adopted. In this project, virgin heifers will be synchronized and bred artificially to calving ease sires. Factors to be measured include response to synchronization, rates of estrous observation, pregnancy rate, hours of labor required and associated costs. The analysis of this data will be compared to the costs and benefits of using natural service. A fact sheet on ES and AI protocols will be developed, a poster display developed for Empire Farm Days, along with extension newsletter articles and web posts. Results of the project will be presented at an Extension field day. It is anticipated that beef producers will adopt ES and AI as part of their reproductive strategy.

Roles and Responsibilities

The student will work with a veterinarian who is also the farm owner, in preparing virgin heifers for estrous synchronization. This will involve learning how to conduct a reproductive tract score, evaluating body condition score, and measuring hip height and body weight of heifers. The student will then participate in applying synchronization protocols, observing estrous and assisting in breeding heifers artificially. All measurements will be recorded and analyzed by the student and be developed into educational materials including a revision of the Reproductive Strategies fact sheet in the Cornell Beef Reference manual. In addition the student will be involved with some of the day-to-day activities on a beef farm such as feeding, pasture rotation, fence repair and the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CALS freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.

Experience working with cattle. ANSC 3600 Beef Cattle preferred, but not required.

Benefits and Skills

Through experience working on a farm with a veterinarian, the student will learn the strategies for successful application of an estrous synchronization program along with artificial insemination, in addition to getting a better understanding of production agriculture. In working with a regional extension specialist the student will learn how to develop an effective extension program that will instruct farmers on the use of reproductive strategies that can increase their competitiveness and profitability using local on-farm data. The student will also have the opportunity to interact with a regional dairy, livestock and field crops team, which will broaden the extension component and experience.