This past Saturday was a work day. Every day involves some variety of work on the farm, whether that be shoveling manure out of the barn or cutting a field of alfalfa. But, this particular work day marked the beginning of a fresh cycle of life to grace our pastures.
Our cowherd is split between registered cattle and commercial cattle. The commercial cows reside in one 1,100-acre pasture during the summer months while the registered stock are divided on various pieces of land. We refer to our commercial cows as our recipient cows; each cow receives an embryo to nurture until the calf is born, and as the calf’s mother, the cow raises that calf until the calf needs to be weaned. The process is called embryo transfer.
So, on Saturday morning our crew – Doug, two of his brothers, two nieces and one nephew – placed a CIDR device in 120 cows, administered a shot and poured each cow. You may feel like you are returning to a science lesson, but stick with me.
The prostaglandin injection rids the ovary of any corpus luteum which may have formed during the cow’s natural course of a reproductive cycle. This allows a fresh follicle to form. By giving each cow prostaglandin, we are able to reset and restart the reproductive cycle of the entire group.
The CIDR is an intervaginal insert of progesterone. The CIDR – a T-shaped nylon-silicone apparatus – is inserted and stays in the cow for a prescribed amount of days until it is removed. The progesterone is released in the cow at a controlled rate which synchronizes estrus. By employing this technology, we are able to prepare every commercial cow to receive an embryo on the same day. From a labor and logistic perspective to ensuring pregnancy, this process is vital.
Pouring the cows means applying a liquid insecticide along the neck and back of each cow. The purpose? Kill and deter hundreds of various fly species from visiting each cow every day. Flies bite and feed on cattle. The flies spread disease and cause irritation, blood loss, decreased grazing, reduced weight gains and diminished milk production in the mother cows. One could say it’s a problem during the summer months.
The shot was given, the CIDR went in and the pour-on flowed. But, the work day was only the starting point of the embryo transfer process which will span into August when the embryos are finally implanted. Curious for the rest of the story? Keeping checking back for a glimpse into our work.