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Ramping up AI use in beef

SteveOehlenschlager/Getty Images Angus cattle on pasture
HERD MAXIMIZATION: ABS Global is teaming with The Bair Ranch to demonstrate new ways to incorporate artificial insemination for beef producers, including the use of terminal genetics, and sexed semen for managing replacements.
New collaboration between ABS and The Bair Ranch aims to demonstrate advanced breeding tools at work.

Matthew Cleveland knows he’s got a tough job ahead of him in the beef industry. Working as the ABS Global beef product development director, he is taking on the challenge of bringing artificial insemination to an industry where the practice has not been widely adopted.

“The level of AI in the U.S. beef industry has not changed dramatically in the last 50 or 60 years, so there’s a barrier we have to get over,” he says. “We believe strongly that in a lot of situations, AI is going to make that producer more profitable. Not in every situation, but in a lot of situations.”

But how to show it works? Partner with a forward-thinking beef operation and put the most advanced tools to work there.

Recently, ABS Global, a leader in AI technology, announced a collaboration with The Bair Ranch, a nonprofit organization that maintains a large ranching operation in central Montana. The operation has more than 1,000 head of beef females calving annually, and they’re no strangers to data collection and research. The operation conducts research and demonstrations for Montana ranchers.

For years, ABS Global has been building its terminal genetics program for the beef industry. Cleveland explains that the company started developing its own genetics with Angus and Simmental lines. The product is called NuEra Genetics. “But was there a way to really drive terminal genetics faster and further forward?” he asks.

The company has also developed a product called Sexcel, which skews the sex ratio for semen. “We want to demonstrate our 60/40 Synchronization process in an actual production system,” Cleveland says.

With this collaboration, ABS and The Bair Ranch will be putting these tools to work in the herd and collecting a wide range of information on the practices deployed. “We believe there are ways producers can make faster gains with this sort of approach and the Bair partnership gives us the opportunity to demonstrate that,” Cleveland says.

The system at work

In the beef business, if using AI, most producers aimed for all-purpose cattle to balance emphasis on maternal and terminal traits.

In this collaboration ABS will implement the 60/40 Synchronization program, promoting dual stream genetics, utilizing female Sexcel semen in fixed time AI to generate replacement females. ABS reports that up to 60% of synchronized females are inseminated with female skewed semen, while remaining cows are bred to terminal focused sires and then exposed to terminally focused clean-up bulls.

Through this process, data on breeding, sex, efficiency and other factors will be recorded. “This is a demonstration for this technology,” Cleveland says. “If I’m a rancher, I’m focused in producing cattle. That’s my job. How do I optimize that process so that I can produce beef, and I can be as profitable as possible?”

He adds that this collaboration is essentially a technical way of looking at what the ultimate job is – producing beef. And deploying these new tools.

“We’re going to be able to take all this data, and we’re going to be able to put information out there so our customers can actually see we did this,” Cleveland says. “We’ll say this is what happened and show producers how they can do the same for their operations.”

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