Breeder Checkups Help Drive Repro Success

Breeder Check-up
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Today’s farm-employed breeders may be graduates of an artificial insemination (A.I.) school or may simply have received on-the-job training. Regardless, continual learning and evaluation is necessary to ensure ongoing breeding program success. The GENEX A.I. AccuCheckSM program was built for this purpose. It is aimed at observing, evaluating, educating and assisting herd inseminators so they can achieve optimal performance results for the long term.

How can this program help you?

In today’s world, herd inseminators are busy and can have a difficult time keeping up with A.I. advancements simply because they are focused on their daily work. In other instances, breeders are shown how to perform a task but not taught why it is important to do it correctly, eventually leading to protocol drift. Other herd inseminators are veterans of the position, having been trained years ago with no follow-up. Moreover, while no one likes to admit it, it is human nature to cut corners and develop bad habits over time.

The A.I. AccuCheckSM program provides herd inseminators with the opportunity to overcome those challenges. GENEX training specialists travel to your dairy and work directly with herd inseminator(s). They observe the breeder’s technique, provide tips and recommendations, and share new ideas and recent research to supplement inadequate or outdated training.

While the frequency of these visits varies from farm to farm, it’s important they occur on a regular basis. This helps the breeder overcome the anxiety associated with having someone evaluate their work and builds a level of trust between the breeder and training specialist.

What is evaluated?

The simple answer is the program evaluates everything A.I.! Experienced GENEX professionals evaluate every aspect of the breeder’s routine to help them improve performance and become an even more valuable farm employee. The important thing to remember is the evaluation is not about finding fault; it’s about identifying areas of opportunity, incorporating research-based proven techniques and applauding breeders for what they do correctly. More specifically, the A.I. AccuCheckSM program focuses on equipment handling, heat detection, breeding technique, cleanliness and record keeping. Here are some examples.

Equipment Handling: All equipment must be in good working order and functioning properly. For instance, is the thaw unit the right temperature? Is it clean? How often is the water changed? If a gun warmer is used, how often is the insert cleaned or changed? Is it dirty inside? GENEX training specialists also observe how equipment such as scissors and tweezers are stored. Those items should be stored in a container, such as a breeding kit, for cleanliness and to prevent loss or damage.

Heat Detection: If heat detection is used, the training specialist walks pens with the breeder to evaluate if detection is conducted properly. Is tail chalk or paint applied and read correctly? Does the breeder know and understand the signs of heat? If the breeder is asked how they decided a particular cow is or is not in heat, can they respond correctly and confidently?

Semen Handling: More infractions are committed in this performance area than any other, so the training specialist goes through a semen handling checklist explaining the importance of each step and the consequences of cutting corners. Also evaluated is thaw time, time from straw thawing to semen deposition, etc.

A.I. Technique: The training specialist observes every part of the insemination process from the point of entry into the cow until the insemination gun is withdrawn. Observation indicates how gentle the breeder is while working the gun through the cervix, the level of ease the breeder has in moving the gun through the cervix, the speed at which semen is deposited, the semen deposit location and more.

Cleanliness: Cleanliness cannot be overlooked. Cleanliness is observed in every step – from semen handling until the breeder withdraws the A.I gun. Being clean not only makes a breeder look professional but also increases the chances of attaining a pregnancy. One needs to ensure cleanliness each time the cow is entered for breeding; the uterus of a cow is the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, leading to infections.

Record-keeping: Accurate record-keeping is necessary for evaluating reproductive performance, and performance results are only as accurate as the data points recorded. Therefore, it is important to correctly and consistently record the bulls being used, the technician name or number, and other comments related to the breeding event. With accurate and detailed information, your dairy management team is better able to the monitor reproductive program success and make decisions regarding farm reproduction and profit goals.

What happens after that?

Following a thorough evaluation, the training specialist focuses on the most significant areas for improvement. Then, over time, smaller issues can be corrected and overcome as well. The trainer’s goal is not to overwhelm the breeder or dairy with changes, but to make manageable improvements over a logical timeframe.
Through the A.I. AccuCheckSM program and the assistance of a GENEX training specialist, on-farm inseminators can become more knowledgeable, improve their performance and transform themselves into an even more valuable farm employee.
To learn more about having a breeding program evaluation conducted on your dairy, contact your
local GENEX representative. The A.I. AccuCheckSM program may not be available in all locations.

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