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Artificial Insemination (A.I.) isn't just for humans. On our farm it is one of the three ways that we get our cattle pregnant. 1. being natural breeding with a bull, 2. we also can implant an embryo into a surrogate mother called a recip and 3. using artificial insemination.
A.I. is a great technology for us to use on our small farm. Purebred herdsires can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $100,000. However, people will freeze semen from these bulls for people to use in A.I. These straws of bull semen can cost anywhere between $20-$250 a straw, which is considerably less than buying the live bull, and a great help to small breeders like the Boy and I.
This frozen semen has to be stored somewhere though. Enter the semen tank.
For our wedding we actually were given a semen tank (along with our stock trailer makeover). Trust me it was on our wish list along with our Pottery Barn furniture and KitchenAid Mixer!
At the old ranch there were lots of semen tanks. One of these large tanks can hold 500 straws of frozen semen. Each dose of frozen semen looks like a coffee stir stick. Sorry I forgot to take a picture of that.
The semen is kept frozen with liquid nitrogen. See those colored tabs? They are each a canister to keep things organized. When you pull them up it looks like this...
This is one canister. All of those things with the white tabs are canes and contain multiple semen straws in each cane. The numbers and letters are codes so you can make sure you are getting the right straw of semen.
To review why in the world do we do this?
1. It allows us access to better genetics that we might not be able to buy outright
2. Better genetics we can improve the quality of our cattle
3. A.I. technology allows smaller breeders to have access to the same great genetics larger breeders have access to.