The Science Behind Semen Collection in Texas Longhorns.
by Craig Perez
In the world of cattle breeding, semen collection is a crucial process that ensures the continuation and improvement of the breed. This is particularly true for Texas Longhorns, a breed known for its hardiness, longevity, and distinctive horn structure. In this article, we delve into the science behind semen collection, the technology and techniques used, and why they’re vital for maintaining the breed.
The Process of Semen Collection
The most common method of semen collection in Texas Longhorns is electroejaculation. This process involves the use of a probe, which is inserted into the bull’s rectum. The probe delivers a mild electric current, stimulating the nerves and leading to ejaculation. The semen is then collected in a specially designed-container.
The Role of Technology
Technology plays a significant role in ensuring the semen collection process is efficient and stress-free for the animal. For instance, computer-assisted semen analysis (CASA) systems are used to evaluate the semen’s quality. These systems provide accurate and objective measurements of sperm concentration, motility, and morphology.
Moreover, cryopreservation technology allows the collected semen to be stored and transported without losing its viability. The semen is frozen in liquid nitrogen at temperatures below -196°C, preserving the sperm cells for extended periods.
The future of semen collection is here with sexing semen at near perfection. Selecting or sorting semen into male or female-sorted collections allows breeders to decide with 98% accuracy what sex they would want.
The Importance of Semen Collection
Semen collection is vital for several reasons. Firstly, it allows for artificial insemination (AI), a breeding method that has several advantages over natural mating. AI enables breeders to use semen from superior bulls, improving the genetic quality of the herd. It also allows for the control of sexually transmitted diseases and reduces the risk of injury from mating.
Secondly, semen collection enables genetic preservation. By storing semen from a particular bull, breeders can ensure that its desirable traits are not lost to future generations. This is particularly important for Texas Longhorns, as preserving their unique characteristics is crucial for maintaining the breed.
Collecting for export allows the any given bull being collected to expand its influence around the world. Export requirements are different based on the country, with Canada, Europe, and Australia being the most difficult to get qualified for export.
Selecting the Right Bull for Collection
Everyone thinks they have the best bull. Don’t believe that, just ask any other breeder. Each year the qualifications for a bull to be a “great” bull elevate. This is a discussion that should have a dedicated article, but some basic selection practices can be shared right now. At weaning time (6 months) each year you should select no more than 2 or 3 bull calves to stay bulls. All your other bulls should be turned into steers and registered as such.
At one year old your bulls should be evaluated and reduced to the best 1 or 2. The bulls that are not selected to keep should be turned into steers and registered as such.
At 18 months it should be clear if the bulls that have made it past the cut are truly great bull prospects. This is the time to decide which one is the best of the year. Only one bull prospect will have the honor of test breeding heifers. If you still have a second bull, focus all of your marketing to sell him before he reaches 24 months old. Once you have identified your best-of-the-year bull calf, it is time to stack him up to all of the other bulls in the industry in his same age group. This is where you have a little more flexibility. As long as you uniquely have the best for example color, horn, size, pedigree, or show wins you might have a niche in the market.
Quantity or Quality? Understand most bulls don’t produce more than 50 registered progeny in their lifetime. If you intend to collect a bull, the goal should be to create as many offspring as possible to increase his legacy within the breed. Thus elevating your ranch in popularity. You took the time to raise the best quality you could, and let the market raise the quantity of progeny for you.
In conclusion, the science behind semen collection in Texas Longhorns is a fascinating blend of biology and technology. It’s a testament to the lengths breeders go to ensure the survival and improvement of this iconic breed.