Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Working Cows

In high school, this was a pretty general term you'd hear me say. "Sorry guys, I can't go do _______ (insert activity here), I have to work cows." Sometimes I was mad about it, but I had responsibilities and these responsibilities made me a better person. I know this now.

This morning, Nick and I had to work cows. We've had this scheduled for a few weeks, and I was actually excited about it! I don't get as much hands-on time with our bovines as I would like.

[caption id="attachment_261" align="aligncenter" width="640"]2013-04-16 07.26.53 The ladies eating their morning grain before they are run through the chute.[/caption]

So, what we did this morning. We have six cows we want to breed to have early February 2014 calves. But, these things have to be well-planned and well-executed. So, like any good planner would do, we decided to sync our cows' estrus in order be able to breed them all (roughly) on the same day.

[caption id="attachment_262" align="alignleft" width="300"]2013-04-16 07.49.13 A few of the ladies waiting patiently for their turn.[/caption]

So today, we inserted CIDRs. A CIDR (Controlled Internal Drug Release) is a progesterone intravaginal insert used to keep progesterone levels high in the animal. This increased level of progesterone will prevent any cow or heifer from coming into heat (estrus). [Information came from the University of Wisconsin, view the source.] We also gave each of the cows a shot of Cystorelin or GnRH. This regresses a follicle (or the corpus luteum for those of you in-the-know) the cow may be working up. These corpora lutea eventually are released from the ovaries to become the egg that will be fertilized by the sperm. If that makes sense.

[caption id="attachment_263" align="alignright" width="225"]2013-04-16 08.23.22 Nick moving some of the cows around.[/caption]

So in a week's time, we will remove these CIDRs. Then we will give each of the cows a shot of Lutalyse. Lutalyse is similar to the hormone PGF2alpha, which relaxes the smooth muscle, allowing estradiol (or estrogen) to take over for the cow to come into estrus. So when we give this Lutalyse, the cows will be ready to breed in 48 to 72 hours.

We will breed them via artificial insemination (AI), with the help of our local veterinarian. We have already selected the "daddy" of our future calves, and their semen is waiting patiently in our semen tank full of liquid nitrogen.

Now to some of you, I'm sure this is foreign. But I promise I tried to explain that well. But if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

To our cows, this is a perfectly normal procedure, and shortly after these photos were taken, they got to return to the pasture to lay with and protect their calves born in February.

Happy Tuesday!

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