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Importance of Artificial Insemination in Dairy Farming

Introduction

Good productions as well as good reproduction are two essential elements for making the dairy farming/business a profitable one. A number of new reproductive technologies have been implemented for enhancing reproductive performances of dairy animals. Artificial insemination is one of the most important reproductive technologies implemented by the dairy industry. Artificial Insemination (AI) is very useful in a country like India where the availability of quality males (sires) is inadequate and has become the major hurdle in the way of dairy animals’ development.

What is Artificial insemination (AI)

As the name suggests, Artificial insemination (AI) is a technique in which sperm is collected from the male/bulls, processed, stored and manually introduced into the female reproductive tract at appropriate time for the purpose of conception.  AI has become one of the most imperative techniques for the genetic improvement of farm animals since preferably the semen from genetically superior sires/males are used to inseminate the female animals artificially.  It has been most extensively used for breeding dairy cattle and buffaloes. AI is the tool that possesses the potential of economic and rapid diffusion of elite males to a large number of females in a short duration of time over a large geographical area.

Advantages of Artificial Insemination over Natural Service

Artificial insemination (AI) is one of the most efficient tools accessible to dairy farmers to improve productivity and profitability of dairy enterprise.  In artificial insemination the bulls of superior quality can be efficiently exploited with the least concern for their location in faraway places. There are a lot of advantages of AI over natural services with bulls. They are as follows:

  • Boosts efficiency of bull usage: During natural mating, a bull will donate much more semen than is theoretically needed to make a pregnancy. On the other hand, collected semen can be diluted and extended to make hundreds of semen doses from a single ejaculate which can be easily carried one place to another, promoting multiple inseminations in females in different geographical locations and semen can be stored for long periods of time
  • Cost Effectiveness: No necessity of maintenance of breeding bulls. Hence, the expenditure on maintenance of breeding bull is saved.
  • Checks disease transmission: Natural mating allows the transmission of venereal diseases between males and females. On the other hand, for AI, semen is regularly tested for its quality, possible infections hence allows checking of the spread of certain venereal diseases. Eg: contagious abortion, vibriosis.
  • Promotes Breeding Efficiency: By routine examination of semen after collection and frequent checking on fertility make early detection of inferior bulls and better breeding efficiency is warranted.
  • The progeny testing can be employed at an early age.
  • The semen of an elite bull can be used even after the death of that sire.
  • It makes possible the mating of animals with great variations in body size with no injury to either of the animal.
  • It is useful to inseminate the cows denying to stand or accept the bulls at the time of oestrum.
  • Useful in maintaining the perfect breeding and calving records.
  • Artificial Insemination enhances the rate of conception.
  • Artificial Insemination allows the use of old, heavy and injured sires.
  • Artificial Insemination when linked to oestrous synchronization programme, can promote a more consistent, uniform calf crop production.

Shortcomings of Artificial Insemination

Dairy farmers have numerous arguments against Artificial Insemination. In general, an AI program would need more intensive management of the herd like a sound nutrition program (cows in good body condition), good record keeping in the farm, an efficient herd health program, precise heat detection and a well-trained AI technician.  Poor management in one or more of these fields might result in poorer success rates. Few major drawbacks of AI are mentioned below:

  • Requires well-trained personnel and special tools.
  • Takes more time than natural services.
  • The AI operator needs to have the knowledge of the structure and function of reproduction in the dairy animals.
  • Improper cleanliness of instruments and unhygienic conditions may lead to declined conception.
  • If the bull is not appropriately examined, the spreading of venereal diseases will be increased.

References

  1. http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/animal_husbandry/animhus_cattle_AI.html.
  2. Ravi Kant Gupta and Vivek Kumar Singh Artificial Insemination: Boon for Indian Dairy Industry. Research News For U (RNFU) ISSN: 2250 –3668, Vol. 5,  2012.
  3. http://www-naweb.iaea.org.
  4. John Cothren, Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock and Field Crops Wilkes County, North Carolina.

Source of Information : Rajalaxmi Behera*, Ajoy Mandal*, Adhikari Sahu**, Saroj Rai*, M. Karunakaran* and T. K. Dutta*

* ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, ERS, Kalyani, West Bengal

** ICAR- Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture



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