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Comparison of artificial insemination and natural service cost effectiveness in dairy cattle

  • G. E. Valergakis (a1), G. Arsenos (a1) and G. Banos (a1)

Abstract

Reproductive efficiency in the dairy herd is the most important factor for its economic success and a major concern for dairy farmers when using artificial insemination (AI) or natural service (NS). Our objectives were to estimate, compare and analyse the costs associated with breeding cattle by do-it-yourself (DIY) AI and NS and identify the factors that influence them, under typical dairy farming conditions in Greece. A simulation study was designed based on data from 120 dairy cattle farms that differed in size (range 40 to 285 cows) and milk production level (4000 to 9300 kg per cow per year). Different scenarios were employed to estimate costs associated directly with AI and NS as well as potentially extended calving intervals (ECI) due to AI. Results showed that bull maintenance costs for NS were €1440 to €1670 per year ($1,820 to $2,111). Direct AI costs were higher than those for NS for farms with more than 30 cows and ECI constituted a considerable additional burden. In fact, amongst the factors that affected the amount of milk needed to cover total extra AI costs, number of days open was the dominant one. Semen, feed and heifer prices had a very small effect. When, hypothetically, use of NS bulls results in a calving interval of 12 months, AI daughters with a calving interval of 13.5 months have to produce about 705 kg of additional milk in order to cover the extra cost. Their actual milk production, however, exceeds this limit by more than 25%. When real calving intervals are considered (13.0 v. 13.7 months for NS and AI, respectively) AI daughters turn out to produce more than twice the additional amount of milk needed. It was concluded that even under less than average management conditions, AI is more profitable than the best NS scenario. The efficient communication of this message should be a primary concern of the AI industry.

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References

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