Saturday, April 20, 2024

New technology option for natural heat detection

CONCEPTIONS   Beef cow-calf newsletter                           May June 2024

Mark Curry     (989) 984- 7027     Route service and sales

Sue Palen        (989) 834- 2661     Office manager and Order desk

Greg Palen      (989) 277- 6031     Certified Seed Specialist;  AI refresher training

Ashleigh MacNeil                           AI Training consultant

We just learned of this.    It is called  “HEAT SIECKER”.    Equipment consists of a radio antenna, glue-on patches, and glue…    The patches send a radio signal to the antenna  (at your monitor location)  indicating each mounting activity.    This signal has reached one to two miles in trials, and (like cell phone signals) is not hampered by lacking a “line of sight” contact.    The patches have batteries with about four month life; the patches themselves can withstand a year being outside in the weather  (so you can rotate them from spring cows to fall cows).
Mark and I thought at first glance, the technology is a bit expensive:   You buy the antenna for $1399 (good for a working lifetime).    Patches, sold in boxes of ten, are $29.75 each.   The glue is $ 9.50 per bottle  (does 8-9 head).    THEN there is a data plan, $560 per year (or $360 if you just buy a 4 month breeding season) -- I assume you download that on your farm computer, but the idea of getting heat messages on your cell phone  (so you could plan insemination times “in the moment”)  was mentioned.
Testimonials to-date suggest superiority to either synchronizing or human heat detection.   One herd in South Dakota with 300 cows experienced a 16% increase in conception.     (Dairy farms with in-barn systems often report the same, but electronics for outdoor/pasture heat detection is a new development we will be watching).
The developer, Brent Siecker, can be reached at or ph (402) 418- 2790. 

In  the  meantime …

We stock CIDR inserts for timed breeding,  and we also stock ESTRO TECH stick-on patches for enhancing visual natural heat detection.     Both are relatively affordable options.
Brush  up  your  heat  detection  and  AI  techniques  for  spring  

Heat detection

Cows cycle anywhere from 17 to 24 days, with most hitting 21 days.    Heifers should begin cycling soon after reaching one year of age (heritage breeds slower, pushed genetic selection breeds earlier).     “Cycling” begins on one of the ovaries when the most developed “follicle” releases estrogen into the bloodstream, which excites the cow/heifer to be more attentive to companion animals.   This excitement raises blood pressure slightly, resulting in a similar rise in body temperature, as blood flows into the reproductive tract.
Engorgement of the repro tract (on the side of the mentioned active ovary) will flow into that uterine horn;  if you palpate the tract, you will feel one horn enlarged and “lifting” up from the membrane holding the womb in place.   You will see a swelling of the vulva on the rear of the cow, and “pheronomes” (an odor that other animals will smell) will draw attention from others.  Over the next hours of visible mounting activity, this engorgement will move rearward, enlarge the cervix, stimulating it to release a thin mucus that cleanses and lubricates the vaginal canal.    
Toward the end of standing heat, when the cervix is fully “dilated”, the AI technique is easiest.   (If you enter the cow in earlier stages of estrus, you run into the engorged uterine horn, while the cervix will be hiding underneath and bent upward to the lifting horn structure.)    Standing heat can last up to twelve hours, and it rarely pays to inseminate with frozen semen in earlier stages (the sperm cells will wear themselves out swimming around inside the body before the egg is actually released from the ovarian surface).     
Basically, the entire process of estrus is designed to force release of an egg at the end of all the excitement.   In natural service, the bull’s thrusting will stimulate the clitoris.  The nerves send a signal to the pituitary gland in the base of the brain to release “lutenizing” hormone into blood circulation, and this causes the ovarian follicle to rupture, releasing that egg to travel down the “fallopian tube”.      The sperm cells will already be in the fallopian region waiting for the egg to arrive.     They begin rubbing their heads against the shell of the egg, until the enzymes coating both acrosomal caps (sperm) and ovum (egg) dissolve and a single sperm enters; this completes fertilization (conception takes place) and a new genotype is formed in the shell.   As the embryo develops it moves down the tubes into the uterine horn, attaches to the sticky uterine wall and goes through the continuous cell division that transforms into a fetus.
Good AI technique will mimic the design of nature

Because sperm that has been frozen and rethawed will only live up to twelve hours after AI, and the release of the egg can also take up to twelve hours after the end of standing heat, breeding later in the heat is best.   To insure ovulation, it is best to practice clitoral stimulation after the AI gun is removed, so that nature’s signals are met.    Work with nature is always the best practice.

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