CGND | Our Pasture View – August 2021

Maria Bichler

Maria Bichler is a wife, young mother of three and owner of Bichler Simmentals in Linton, N.D. She works from home as a journalist alongside her husband, Doug, as they manage their family’s 100-year-old farm and ranching operation.

In our fast-paced world, efficiency is highly sought after. How efficient can we be at running the errands on Saturday, cleaning the house before company arrives, sticking to our monthly budget? Can I make supper in 30 minutes or less; maybe an Instant Pot would help me accomplish that goal and be more efficient. The thought processes revolved around being more efficient seemingly never end.

Efficiency extends to the ranch as well. And, utilizing embryo transfer is but one way we capitalize on modern technology to operate our ranch in an efficient manner.

So, why do we mess with embryo transfer and what exactly does ET mean?

Here at Bichler Simmentals, we are marketing our cattle to other cattlemen. We strive to produce bulls and heifers which will benefit others’ cowherds and be productive cattle for years to come. Because this is our end goal, we place our focus on the genetic potential surrounding each animal. To be more efficient in the quality of offspring coming from our cowherd, we have used ET for the last 20 years.

The process involves breeding a donor cow – an all-star in the herd, one in which we want to have many offspring from because of the cow being high quality in many aspects – then flushing the embryos from the donor and implanting those embryos into recipient cows. As you may imagine, the process is highly scientific and precise. The work is done by a trained and certified veterinarian and a team of professionals. The ET process is a non-surgical one and involves no pain or discomfort to the cows involved. Interested in the nitty gritty of the process? Ask me. I enjoy teaching others of the science behind ET.

Through ET, we are able to have many calves born in one year from one donor cow versus that donor cow giving birth to one calf every year. We are able to better utilize cows in our herd which are not of high genetic potential. Those cows may not have the structural characteristics we wish to carry on to our calves, but they are good mothers who milk well and are functional cattle.

In short, ET allows us to be efficient and that is a beautiful thing.

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