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NMSU to host artificial insemination workshop in Los Lunas

New Mexico State University Southwest Beef Reproductive Management Program is launching a new artificial insemination school to help cattlemen manage their reproductive program.


“AI is a largely under-utilized technology in New Mexico,” said Craig Gifford, NMSU Extension beef cattle specialist. “There has been a really big misconception that AI is just for dairy cattle, and isn’t used in a big pasture situation. But there are big ranches that use it and continue to use it, indicating that AI is profitable in this type of production system.”

The next NMSU AI School will be in Los Lunas from April 10-12, at Southwest Event Center on State Highway 6, west of Los Lunas. The course will be taught by Gifford; Marcy Ward, NMSU Extension livestock specialist; and other NMSU Extension specialists and agents.

“There will be classroom presentations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, April 10-11, and hands-on palpating of cows on Friday, April 12,” said Newt McCarty, NMSU Extension’s Valencia County agricultural agent. “This is a great opportunity for cattlemen to learn this breeding method.”

Topics during the two-day classroom session will include female cow reproductive anatomy, estrus-synchronization and semen handling.

“We will practice handling of the semen straws from the nitrogen tank to thaw unit,” Gifford said. “We will have actual cow reproductive organs for the participants to see the anatomical structures and understand how AI works. Plus, we will use our cow model to practice the AI procedures.”

The third day, participants will put into action what they learned in the classroom as they work with live cows.

Registration fee is $285, which includes an ABS Artificial Insemination handbook. Contact McCarty at 505-565-3002 before April 1 to register. Alternatively, visit nmbeef.nmsu.edu for online enrollment. For those who attended Tucumcari AI school, the one-day, hands-on workshop is $185.

“This type of program taught in neighboring states runs $500-plus, but we are trying to keep costs as low as we can,” said Gifford. “The handbook itself is worth this registration fee. The participants will be able to take it home as a reference manual.”

Besides providing all of the teaching material, ABS Global, a world leader in providing bovine genetics, reproduction services and technologies, has donated the equipment for the school, such as the semen tanks, thawing units, practice semen straws and guns.

“We can’t thank ABS Global enough for their contribution,” Gifford said. “Without their generosity, it would have been very difficult to host these schools.”

This is the second AI school NMSU has held this year. The first was in Tucumcari Feb. 26-27.

“We have added the hands-on palpating day to the Los Lunas school, because we have access to live cows thanks to all the help from the folks at the SW Event Center,” Gifford said. “Anyone who attended the Tucumcari school can attend Friday to practice on cows.”

There are several reasons for a producer to use AI to breed their cow herd.

“It is a way to minimize the cost for smaller herd operators while getting some of the best genetics in the world without having to buy a bull,” Gifford said. “It can also be used if the producer wants to change direction of the breeding program by selecting genetics specific for the desired results.

“It is also a way to utilize terminal crosses in this arid environment. You might be able to use a bull through AI that you would not necessarily want to keep the daughters of, but it might improve the calf’s muscle and frame score and make them more marketable. Additionally, the benefits of getting cows calving earlier in the season can increase profitability in both fall-weaned market calves and replacement females.”

Another reason is to control bovine Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease.

“In trich-prone areas of the state, this might be a management tool,” Gifford said. “A pregnant cow can’t catch trich. So having her bred before release to graze in areas where she could come in contact with an infected bull will help prevent the disease from spreading.”

After evaluating the participation demands at the Tucumcari and Los Lunas schools, Gifford hopes to offer this program at other locations around the state. “If the demand is there, we will continue to host these schools. Get in contact with your local County Extension Office and let them know if you are interested.”