Artificial insemination


Ref Code: CAT01


Teaching - 3 (Instructor : student ratio 1:3)

Research - 4


To place diluted semen in the most appropriate part of the female’s genital organs to maximise subsequent conception.

Alternatives to animal use for teaching

Students must receive prior instruction on the anatomy and physiology of the area (slides and videos may be appropriate). The technique must be practised on abattoir specimens and/or an artificial cow prior to use of live animals.

Details of procedure

Only mature cows of quiet temperament should be used for instruction. Animals under 15 months of age or undersized animals should not be used. They must be individually identified by ear tag or freeze brand prior to use in a school.

They should be pregnancy tested prior to the commencement of instruction; only non-pregnant cows should be used.

They must be restrained to prevent lateral or forward movement, preferably with a vet gate.

Cows should have current Leptospira vaccination. If the EBL or Pestivirus status of the cattle in use has not been established, a new glove should be used with each cow to avoid the possible transmission of diseases per rectum. Cows known to be carriers of Pestivirus or EBL should not be used. Equipment should be disinfected or a new sleeve used between each cow.

Only recommended test guns or insemination guns with sleeves should be used.

Cows showing vaginal discharge (other than oestrus discharge) should not be used. The oestrous status of cows used for instruction should not be significant. Easier penetration of the cervix in oestrous cows is very transient and would not justify the use of oestrus synchronisation. The disadvantage of the use of oestrous cows is that oestrus synchronisation will be required prior to the course, with associated extra yarding and handling. Oestrous cows will show mounting behaviour in confined areas, causing additional stress.

Drugs, chemicals and biological agents

As a general practice, no drugs are required. Obstetrical lubricant or similar product should be used to provide lubrication.

Impact of the procedure on the wellbeing
of animal(s)

Repeated and/or inexpert practice of the procedure may result in severe straining, ballooning of the rectum, bleeding or thickening of the rectum. Thickening is less likely to occur in animals accustomed to rectal palpation.

To reduce the impact of the procedure, students should be asked to have fingernails cut short, jewellery removed and to wear gloves with seams inside-out so that the seams are on the inside.

Reuse and repeated use

There should be a maximum of two inseminations per cow if used in the first ‘hands-on’ session. Cows used in subsequent sessions may have a maximum of four inseminations.

Appropriate marking (using a proprietary stock marker) should be applied to each animal before insemination to identify each insemination.

Cows may be used in one session per day and may be used on a second day after an overnight rest. They may be used for a maximum on two days in any one school. Reuse should only occur after assessment of the cow by a veterinarian or a qualified instructor.

Cows not showing rectal thickening may be used at fortnightly intervals unless removed for some other reason. Cows which show evidence of thickening of the rectal wall should be withdrawn immediately and not used for a period of one month, after which reuse should only occur after assessment of the cow by a veterinarian or qualified instructor.

Care of animal(s) during/after procedure

1. During the school. Cows showing any sign of stress during a school must be removed from the school.

Any cow showing vaginal bleeding or more than slight rectal bleeding, should be withdrawn immediately and not used until veterinary clearance has been given. Use of cows must be discontinued if they show frank blood, severe straining or ballooning of rectum.

2. After the school. Cows should be checked twice daily for the first two days after a school and once daily for a further 5 days. Records must be kept for individual cows of the incidence of discharge, other abnormal event or behaviour, or any treatment administered.

An autopsy must be performed on any cow that dies unexpectedly following a school and the supervising AEC informed of the results as soon as practicable.

Pain relief measures

Normally none required.

Qualifications, experience, skills necessary to perform this procedure

  • Demonstrator - instruction in insemination technique will only be provided by a suitably qualified veterinarian or instructor approved by an AEC.
  • Students - experience in cattle handling. Familiarity with anatomy/physiology, competence using abattoir specimens and artificial cow.