Two years ago Tropical Cattle Company owners Jon and Sue Joyce began an extensive fixed time artificial insemination (FTAI) program on their Ingham-based property, The Orient, which has greatly bolstered the quality of their commercial Brahman herd.
The Joyce’s have owned The Orient for close to 50 years, and with Cody and Holly Sheahan managing the property they’re in the process of putting their 2000 breeders through the program, from which several AI calve drops have already occurred.
Jon said the program has provided “very pleasing” results, not just for the genetic gains they’re achieving, but because it has allowed them to tighten calving patterns and better plan the running of the operation.
“It was Tropical Vet Services Ingham’s Dr Callan Solari who spurred us on to begin the FTAI program using the DIB-H progesterone device which he’d seen being used by producers during a trip to Argentina,” he said.
Dr Liz Pryor from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health (the developers of DIB-H) said progesterone assists in the regulation of other hormones released during a cows cycle and allows the animal in question to ovulate at the right time.
“If too much progesterone is used in a reproductive program, fertility can be negatively affected, delaying the onset of ovulation, or even causing ovulation to cease entirely,” she said.
“DIB-H offers a lower dose of progesterone that is optimised for use in all beef cows and heifers, and certain cattle types like Bos Indicus are more sensitive to its effects in assisted breeding programs.”
Jon said Callan has been acting as their supervisor for the entire run of the program to date, and has taught Cody how to implement the protocols.
“Cody had never done synchronisation before, but because the protocols are easy to follow and the device is easy to use, they’ve been able to do it themselves since Callan ran them through it.”
“It’s a valuable tool to have, as it gives us total control of our breeding program.”
Jon said they are continuing to put their females through the program, but it will depend on the weather as to how many programs they can complete each year.
“The advantage of implementing the program at The Orient, is that the weather is pretty predictable in Ingham, so we can plan our programs around the wet.”
He said the aim is to eventually have their primarily Grey polled commercial herd be indistinguishable from their stud bulls, which they’re achieving by sourcing the best poll and horned semen available, domestically and from the US.
“We expect more than 190 bulls produced through the program will be available for private purchase next year, with more to come.”