Artificial Insemination (AI) is the process of collecting sperm cells from a male animal, processing and freezing them into straws and then manually depositing them into the reproductive tract of a female at a later date. It provides a method to inseminate a large number of females to a single sire that has been selected and proven to be an industry leader for economically relevant traits. Through AI, there can be a rapid genetic change in a herd. When using a bull and natural service, the herd bull’s job is to detect females that are standing and breed them at the appropriate time during the breeding season. For a successful AI program to occur, the producer must take the place of the herd bull and both detect heat and provide a means for insemination at the right time. There are two ways you can artificially inseminate a cow – on a natural heat or on a synchronised heat. These two methods are discussed below.

There are several considerations you may need to think about in regards to the use of artificial insemination in your beef or dairy herd.

  • Increase Bull Use
    • When using natural breeding, a bull can only serve a certain number of cows per season. By using AI, the use of a particular bull in your herd can be much more widespread.
  • Increased Genetic Selection
    • Artificial insemination allows you to select only the best males for sires and allow for more intensive selection of desired genetics.
  • Easier Management
    • Dealing with bulls in small herds can be a problem due to fighting and difficulties in confining them to your property. Stronger housing and handling equipment may also be required for certain bulls which increases property management costs.
    • Much shorter calving periods
  • Reduced Disease Transmission
    • Natural mating allows for ready transmission of sexually transmitted disease which is reduced with artificial insemination. 
  • Labour Intensive
    • You must be able to handle females appropriately at the time they are on heat and also during the calving process. This is particularly important in fixed time AI programs.
  • Costs
    • AI can be more expensive than natural service depending on the straws purchased ir the purchase price of a bull for live cover
  • Poor Conception Rates
    • There is room for error in heat detection, insemination, straw handling and transport that may lead to potentially lower conception rates than expected.



For a successful insemination to occur, the females must be detected in standing oestrous. Identifying this involves looking for changes in the animals behaviour associated with the female standing to be mounted by a bull or another female. Accurate detection of animals standing in oestrous is the goal and plays the most vital role in the success of a natural heat AI program. Failing to detect oestrous can result in significant economic losses. Should you choose to AI on natural heat, as opposed to fixed time artificial insemination, there will be several factors to consider including:

  • Heat Detection.
    • Cows must be confined to a smaller area where they can be pushed together and observed morning and evening for ~15-30min. You can use Kamars or scratchie based mount detectors to assist in this process. You may need to continue this process for up to 12 weeks depending on the length of your program, conception rate and semen availability. Cows can be partially synchronised with a single hormone injection to assist this process.
  • Insemination.
    • Insemination is often carried out 12hrs after heat is detected (i.e. heat detected in the morning, AI in the afternoon). If accurate heat detection is not carried out, we may be inseminating too early or too late. Each insemination will be charged as a separate veterinary visit.
  • Costs.
    • This it often not the most cost effective way of inseminating when using our services for more than a few animals. Fixed time AI may be a better option when you have a large number of animals.



Fixed time artificial insemination (FTAI) involves the synchronisation of oestrous in a group of females. This means that their oestrous cycles are manipulated to cause them to exhibit standing oestrous around the same time enabling mass insemination. It involves the use of the same hormones that females normally release during their oestrous cycle and these are given to the cows or heifers through a set of injections and intrauterine implants. Overall it is one of the most effective ways producers can reduce costs, simplify their breeding programs and maximise the genetic advancement of their herd.

Below is an example of how a FTAI program works to give you an idea of what is required of you as a producer. In most cases, only one veterinary visit is required on the day of insemination.



  • Mileage (@ $2.60/km) ~varies distance from clinic
  • Artificial Insemination (@ $350/hour including equipment + disposables) ~$350
  • Drugs (Bomerol, Juramate, CIDR) ~$425

* Please note, the above costs listed are for 10 HEIFERS ONLY and are to be used as an estimate only.
* This does not include any earlier veterinary visits and relies on the client to give all injections and place CIDRs into cows.
* Costs are an approximation as at September 2023 and are subject to increase or decrease at any time

The above program is based on FTAI. By using this program, our costs through property visits will be reduced, calving period shortened and it will allow the heifers a longer period of time to grow out before the next season. Ideally, if all the drugs and implants can be administered on farm by the client, there will only be one veterinary visit to the property to inseminate the cows. If assistance is required to implant CIDRs and given injections, then further costs will apply. The only other time there are extra visits to consider are when heifers cycle early (e.g. day 9 instead of 10) and they require insemination at the time.



Regardless of if you choose to inseminate on natural heats or start a FTAI program, there are several important things to consider.

  • Semen & Selection
    • We rely on you sourcing and transporting the semen to us (we can keep it in short storage for a fee) prior to synchronisation so you can then decide what genetics you want for your herd and how much you are willing to spend. Straws can be sourced from Rocky Repro or other local suppliers that they may be able to put you in touch with. If inseminating heifers, is the semen from a ‘heifer bull’ that throws reasonable sized calves? Ensure you have strongly considered the genetic merits of the chosen sires including physical, behavioural and carcass qualities.
  • Straws
    • Once you have purchased your semen, please advise what size straws you have (1/4 or 1/2 ml) to ensure we have the correct gun available.
  • Facilities
    • Good quality, covered and safe veterinary crush with a kick gate is desirable to ensure the safety of all staff and professionals present.
  • Female Selection
    • Mature cows or maiden heifers are often under much less stress than lactating cows and often provide higher submission rates. Their current condition score, whether they are lactating and if they are cycling regularly should all be taken into consideration
  • Cattle Handling
    • Can you handle the cattle as many times as is required? Will you be available for the 10 day period and have adequate assistance available to ensure things run smooth
  • Vaccinations/Parasite Control
    • Are the animal’s vaccinations up to date (7in1, Pestigard, BEF). If not these should be done 8 weeks prior to AI. Have they been treated for ticks/buffalo fly/worms as required to avoid unnecessary stress on both cattle and operators?
  • Health Status/Nutrition
    • Are they in a good, forward moving nutritional state? Good nutrition is essential in the lead up to and after the AI program
  • Follow Up
    • All cows may not fall pregnant. To mop up all cows that fail to conceive, you can use a bull, AI on natural heat or repeat the fixed time program. Straw purchase and canister hire may have to be taken into consideration if wanting to repeat AI.
  • AI Day
    • The insemination day must fall on a week day to allow for any unforeseen circumstances
    • Artificial Insemination also has some drawbacks that must also be considered.


We look forward to helping you progress your herd in a cost effective, timely and professional manner. Starting an AI program is an exciting time for any producer and we endeavour to ensure that you get as much as possible out of this. Should you have any questions regarding the above plan, please do not hesitate to contact the clinic at any time.