Effect of Artificial Insemination on Reproductive Performance and Economics of Lactating Dairy Cows

Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann, Extension Dairy Veterinarian, The Ohio State University


Losses due to poor reproductive management can be very costly to dairy producers due to extended days open, increased culling due to reproductive failure, and decreased milk yield. Many factors influence the reproductive and productive performances of dairy herds, consequently profitability. It is common to observe large within-herd variation in AI technician conception risk (CR).

Parameters Assessed

Using a stochastic dynamic model, the effect of reproductive performance due to AI technicians, the herd economics were assessed. The CR from 3 distinct AI technicians (A = 38%, B = 32%, and C = 26%) were assessed. For the simulation, lactating dairy cows were enrolled in a Presynch-Ovsynch for first AI, followed by estrus detection (ED) and resynchronization of cows diagnosed open 32 days after AI using Ovsynch. Cows were not AI after 365 days in milk (DIM) and open cows were culled after 450 DIM. Culled cows were immediately replaced. Herds were maintained at 1000 cows. Death losses were set at 6% and abortion at 11.3%. Dry period was set at 60 days. Net daily value was calculated by subtracting the costs for replacement heifers ($1,800/heifer), feeding costs ($0.25/kg of lactating cow diet; $0.15/kg of dry cow diet), breeding costs ($0.10/cow/day for ED; $2.5/dose prostaglandin F2a (PGF); $3.0/dose gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH); $0.17/injection administration), and other costs ($3.5/day) from the daily income with milk sales ($0.31/kg milk), cow sales ($0.75/kg live weight), and calf sales ($200/calf). The CR from AI technician A (38%), B (32%), and C (26%) was compared. Simulation was performed until steady-state was reached (3000 days), then average daily values for the subsequent 2000 days was used to calculate profit/cow/yr. The ED was set to 60%. Accuracy of ED and compliance with each injection were set at 95%. Inaccurate ED resulted in 0% CR. Missing a Presynch injection resulted in a loss of 50% of the benefit (40% increase to first AI), and missing an Ovsynch injection resulted in a decrease in CR by 70%.


The breeding costs/cow/yr for AI technician A, B, and C were $88, 96, and 106, respectively. The profit/cow/yr for AI technician A, B, and C were $179, 139, and 82, respectively. Assuming that the herd remains constant, each point increase in CR (from 26 to 38%) represented $6 per cow/yr or $6,000/yr for a 1000-cow dairy.


Compliance with the AI procedure (semen handling, accuracy of ED, hygiene, and site of semen deposition) affects the bottom line of dairy herds and should not be compromised for convenience. Investing in educational training for professional AI technicians should be a top priority.


The information provided in this article was generated using an individual cow-based model to aid in decision making about reproductive management of dairy cows and published in the 2012 abstracts for the American Dairy Science Association. The model was developed in collaboration with Drs. P. Federico (Capital University, Columbus, OH), A. De Vries (Department of Animal Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville), G.M. Schuenemann (Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus), and K.N. Galvão (Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville).


Schuenemann, G.M., S. Bas, and K.A. Galvão. 2012. Effect of AI technicians on reproductive performance and economics of lactating dairy cows. J. Dairy Sci. 95:475.