Gregg Miles says artificial insemination is cheaper, and can produce better calves
As ranchers attending the annual Cattleman’s Workshop Saturday passed by trade show booths lining the walls at the Blue Mountain Conference Center in La Grande, Gregg Miles of Miles Breeding Service in North Powder preached the benefits of artificial insemination, compared to running sire bulls.
Gregg Miles of North Powder had a booth at Saturday’s Cattleman’s Workshop in La Grande, where he touted the benefits of artificial insemination for cattle breeding. (Baker City Herald/Ed Merriman)
The first benefit Miles mentioned to those who paused at the booth he and his father, Myron Miles, set up as two of the sponsors of the workshop is the ability to quickly improve herd genetics and the calf crop by impregnating cows with semen from top bulls costing as much as $100,000.
Most ranchers can’t afford to buy such bulls as herd sires.
Gregg Miles cited published research showing that AI, using top-rated bulls, costs about $40 to produce a calf, while the average cost using bulls that aren’t quite as highly rated ranges from $13 to $20 per calf.
By comparison, Miles said if a rancher buys an average type of sire bull for $3,000 and it impregnates 25 cows that produce calves for the industry average of three years, the cost per calf, after accounting for the cost of feeding and maintaining the sire bull, comes to $72.84 per calf.
The $32.84-per-calf savings equates to $32,840 in additional profit possible on a crop of 1,000 calves — and that figure doesn’t include other potential profits from increased weight gain possible with superior genetics available through AI bulls, Miles said.
Miles Breeding Service is a representative of ABS Global, which markets bull semen worldwide.
Another advantage of AI, Miles said, is the ability to “sex sort” semen, which allows ranchers to choose whether a cow will produce a bull or heifer 90 percent of the time.
He said hormone and other injections can be used on the cows so they all come into heat within a 13-day window when AI is scheduled.
With artificial insemination, ranchers can compress their herd’s breeding cycle from the 23 days it takes with a bull, to as few as 13 days, resulting in a more uniform calf crop with animals of similar size, weight and age.
Due to the shorter breeding cycle, calves conceived by AI breeding should be at least nine days older, with nine more days of weight gain, when they are sent to the feedlot, Miles said.
“Having the same size of feeder calves is a benefit,” he said. “Feeders and processors don’t want a 1,400-pounder in a pen full of 600-pounders,” Miles said.
With AI, ranchers have a better chance of hitting the ideal 700- to 800-pound feeder calf weight preferred by feedlot operators, he said.
Finally, Miles said using ABS-certified semen provides ranchers with documentation of the bull’s genetics and lineage.
From their ranch in North Powder, Miles and his father can sell calves on the more lucrative export market to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China and other countries that require age and lineage documentation.
He said using ABS semen for artificial insemination provides documentation of the family tree of the bull, and from there ranchers can document where the calf was born and raised, the feedlot where it was fattened and the slaughtering plant where it was processed.
That’s that’s needed to meet USDA standards for age and identity verification standards for cattle and beef exports, Miles said.