• Category
  • >Artificial Intelligence

How is Artificial Insemination (AI) used in Dairy Farming?

  • Manisha Sahu
  • Aug 22, 2021
How is Artificial Insemination (AI) used in Dairy Farming? title banner

Milk is a vital nutrient for people all over the world, with over 6 billion people consuming milk and milk products. We already have over 270 million dairy cows, so doubling their numbers to meet the world's milk demand wouldn’t be feasible.


Cows' health and well-being are the primary factors influencing milk production. However, in order to improve bovine health, the dairy farmer must monitor every single animal nonstop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, resulting in an unreasonable rise in labour costs of at least 30%.


To meet this problem, Ida has launched the world's first dairy farmer's assistant, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn cow behaviour and provide important operational insights to farmers on how to enhance animal health and productivity.


Ida combines sensor technology, machine learning, and cloud computing to turn raw data from the field into actionable information that farmers can use every day to make better decisions. 


Ida has developed a system that performs intelligent pattern analysis, unlike existing cow movement trackers that just send motion data to a central collection site. Ida provides clear advice to the farmer by seeing and learning how the cows act, as well as measuring the farm's performance against the most efficient farms across the world.


( Recommended blog: IoT in Agriculture )


AI in Dairy Farming


Farmers may now get the greatest bull (male) genetics from all over the world thanks to artificial intelligence. Farmers aim to use a balanced breeding method to improve the productivity, health qualities, fertility, and lifespan of their dairy cattle. Dairy farmers benefit from artificial insemination (AI) in a variety of ways, including access to the best genetics, improved animal health, and the safety of farm workers.


The application of AI also improves the health of animals. Infectious illnesses that may otherwise be passed from bulls to cows through natural breeding are rigorously checked in straws of semen taken from AI bulls. 


Genetic abnormalities that could cause congenital deformities are also monitored in AI bulls. Farmers can supervise matings in a way that eliminates inbreeding and selects for superior welfare qualities, such as cows that do not acquire horns, by analysing the pedigree and genetic composition of these bulls.


The safety of those who work on farms is also crucial, and AI can help with that. Bulls can be dangerous to have on the farm and must be handled with caution. Before introducing bulls into the herd, they must be carefully handled to ensure that their social structure is stable. Bulls can also be harmful to cow health if they are not handled properly, especially in wet weather and on slick surfaces. 


Although some farmers utilize bulls with their cows after a brief AI time, others do not due to worries about the safety of their employees and their families.


( You can also sneak a peek at our blog on What is Genetic Engineering? )



Why do farmers use AI?


AI has become one of the most essential approaches for improving the genetics of agricultural animals ever devised. It's most commonly used for dairy cattle breeding, and it's made high-quality bulls available to everyone. Let's look at why farmers employ artificial intelligence and whether it is beneficial to them.


1. Farmer Safety


Dairy bulls have a well-deserved reputation for being aggressive. Dairy bulls are generally raised with a lot of human interaction, which leads to a complete absence of anxiety when handled. This results in calm, easy-to-handle heifers in the herd. 


Bulls, on the other hand, are not only comfortable when they lack fear, but they are also not hesitant to vent their testosterone-fueled wrath on their handlers. When farms relied on bulls for the majority of their reproduction, the bulls were actually milked alongside the cows in the milking parlor. 


This means milkers had close contact with an animal twice a day, which could kick them in the head at any time. This risk is entirely eliminated using artificial insemination.



2. Cow Safety


Bulls don't usually vent their rage on cows, but they are larger creatures by nature. The male mounts the female and puts a lot of weight on her back legs in natural cattle breeding. A good Holstein bull can easily weigh 2000 pounds, and when a cow is in heat, he will often breed her multiple times. 


That's a lot of added stress, and the process has the potential to harm the bred cow. A cow's life can be jeopardised if he or she is knocked down due to a leg or hip injury. The AI procedure, on the other hand, takes only a few minutes and has no possible detrimental consequences for the cow.


( Also read : Approaches to improve Agriculture Analytics )

The image depicts why do dairy farmers use artificial insemination? It is most commonly used for  - farmers safety - cow's safety - For better management and  - genetic gain.

AI in Dairy Farming

3. Better Management


There are farms that do a better job with bull reproduction, but that requires about as much effort as an AI programme without the additional benefits. Because the bulls were always present with the milking herd on the farm, no one knew when a cow was bred or to which bull she was bred. 


They couldn't keep a voluntary waiting period after a cow calving in order to rebreed her, and they couldn't tell when to dry her up. Now that they have exact breeding dates and can choose a sire for each match. They can better manage cows' pregnancies and lactations if they know when they're due to calve.



4. Genetic Gain


Genetic gain is, by far, the most important reason people opt for AI. There is little doubt that the greatest bulls in the breed wind up in genetics businesses. Are there any good bulls on the market? I'm sure they are, but in every situation, there are superior options in AI. Even though they're a tiny farm, AI allows them to use a larger variety of sires (rather than putting all of their eggs in one basket) and use bulls with outstanding genetic promise. 


They can choose bulls based on a variety of characteristics that predict how the animals will look, as well as how readily they will calve, how often they will become unwell, how much milk they will produce, and the fat and protein content of their milk.


They do this to breed and produce well-balanced and profitable cattle, and they may analyze their farms' accomplishments and change techniques based on the strengths and weaknesses of an ever-changing herd on a regular basis.


Although not every contemporary farm uses AI to its full potential, I believe the vast majority do.


( If you're interested, you might want to check out our blog on Precision Agriculture. )



Advantages of AI in Dairy Farming


  • The greatest benefit of AI is that it allows excellent sires to be used to their full potential. Natural service would most likely limit the number of matings per bull to less than 100 per year.


  • In 1968, AI allowed one dairy sire to provide enough sperm for almost 60,000 services


  • The use of AI prevents sires from being exposed to infectious genital infections, reducing the risk of disease propagation.


  • AI reduces the time it takes to establish credible proof on young bulls.


  • Other benefits include the early discovery of infertile bulls, the use of old or handicapped bulls, and the avoidance of the dangers associated with handling rogue bulls.



Disadvantages of AI in Dairy Farming


There are a few disadvantages of AI that can be mitigated with careful management.


  • Heat must be detected by humans. The success or failure of AI is determined by how successfully this mission is accomplished.


  • Artificial intelligence necessitates more labor, infrastructure, and managerial expertise than natural service.


  • AI application necessitates specialized training, skill, and practice.


  • The genetic base can be reduced if only a few sires are used, as is the case with AI.


  • Every effort should be made by the AI business and dairy cattle breeders to sample as many young sires as feasible.


We've discussed the benefits of artificial insemination and why farmers utilize it. In dairy farming, AI has a variety of purposes, including monitoring dairy-cow activities, increasing milk output and farm productivity, diagnosing mastitis in dairy cows, detecting dairy farm odors, and building smart cow houses using image analysis. 


Through a profitable commercial approach in dairy farming, it eventually provides new hope and open prospects for the overall quality and progress of the dairy industry. I hope this article has added to your understanding of dairy farming.

Latest Comments