Pink foam is great for marking which cows are going to which bull.

As everyone finishes mating for the year, you’re probably thinking about all the things that went wrong and how to do it better.

So write a mental note to yourself for next year or, even better, put it in next year’s diary.

It’s not a fine line between not caring about what bull you use and obsessing. It’s a huge gap between the two and it’s okay to be in it.

Breed catalogues have a lot of information about a bull and many farmers don’t understand it all.

Breeding is not a logical science. Some traits will show more in your calves than others. The most reliable one happens to be the coat colour which has no influence on the milk docket.

Remember from every mating, unless you are using sexed semen, there is about a one in five chance the resulting calf will enter your milking herd. So if it all goes wrong don’t sweat the small stuff.

But grouping cows so all those getting the same bull are together for the AI technician helps to stop stuff ups. Clearly marking which cow is getting what also helps.

Pink foam doesn’t last long so be careful using it. A spray painted “H” for Hereford works well.

If the cows are on a rotary platform make sure the marking is on the side of the rump that the technician will see as it comes around.

If you are planning synchros make sure you tell your technician as soon as you can. They may need to order the semen and they will need to find the extra time. If you slip an extra 40 cows into their morning without warning them first, it will make them late for everyone after you.

Think about the breeds you are using and why. Hereford straws are some of the cheapest available and they come in short gestation. All cattle breeds have different gestation length with Hereford longer than Friesian or Jersey so SGL Hereford means it’s short for Hereford but it’s about the same gestation length for dairy.

For your late-calving cows use short-gestation dairy semen which is super short and can bring late calving cows back in line in a year. Use the tools AI gives you.

When using SGL Dairy, use SGL Hereford for a week first as a marker so you know when the Hereford calves start being born you no longer keep any of the calves. SGL Dairy semen is selected only on gestation length. They will not milk well in your herd.

Also use Hereford on any cows you know you are going to cull. Getting them pregnant will stop them bulling and put more milk in the vat. Don’t use an expensive straw, or a Wagyu contract, on a cow you are going to cull.

If you’re using sexed, do it for a reason such as you want more heifer calves because you need to grow the herd, or you have a contract for them, or you want to cull deep.

If you don’t need more heifer calves, you should be putting the same number of cows to a cheaper beef straw which gives you more options with the calf, or at least better money on the bobby truck.

Using sexed on your best cows, and beef on your worst, will increase your herd’s genetic gain the fastest. Be nice to your cows. Please read that sentence as if it is in neon flashing capital letters as high as the Sky Tower.

The cows you are putting up for AI are on heat. This means their hormones are making them feel weird, they are tired from bulling, their udders are sore because their milk won’t let down and you are probably trying to put them in an unfamiliar space for AI instead of letting them out to a grass paddock with the rest of the herd.

So be calm, gentle, don’t rush or yell around them. I know you are trying to be ready for the AI technician but a cow that is wound up is harder to inseminate. You will have to wait longer for the job to be done.

Don’t put them in the AI race until the technician is ready because standing there will make them more wound up.

If there is only one cow to be inseminated, never leave it by itself. Give it a buddy. Cows hate being by themselves. They are herd animals. A cow isolated in a race will be so upset it could be impossible to inseminate her.

And don’t try to wash the shed with the high pressure hose during AI. Cows do not like the noise and as soon as a hose is turned on, the AI technician’s job becomes so much harder.

Because an AI technician is not just sticking their hand up your cow’s rear end. They’re feeling where to place the inseminator correctly. It’s not easy. Respect that. The cows in the AI race must be the numbers written down on the paperwork which are then entered into the computer system, whichever one you’re using.

All three must agree – the cow, the paperwork and the computer. The technician will load the inseminators against what is written in the book. If the numbers don’t agree then everything has to be checked. In other words, count your cows and check the ear tags all match before the technician arrives. The LIC book, if you use one, has its pages marked in fives with 15 to a column. You can look at it instantly and see there are 11 cow numbers written there, or 33. If you write your cow numbers on a piece of cardboard you always have to count them.

Don’t stress over picking cows. It is better to put a cow up for mating that you are unsure about than leave it out. If you do nothing, nothing happens. Don’t put a cow up two days in a row (unless you are really obsessing), but three-day, four-day and more short returns are fine.

Another way to get more cows up for mating is to put a young bull or a teaser bull out with the herd. Make sure it’s a marker bull such as Hereford or Belted Galloway so you can easily spot any resulting calves but there probably won’t be any.

If a young bull is trying to service 20 cows or more on his own every day he won’t be getting them in calf but he will ride the cows and set off the heat detection patches or rub off the tail paint so it’s easier for you to see.

Also, make sure your technician and their assistant is safe at all times. Every year technicians get hurt, sometimes so badly they can never do the job again.

If a technician feels unsafe, it’s harder for them to concentrate.

Remember the reason we do AI is to get cows in calf. Whatever you do onfarm should help this process, not hinder it.