A factor for health improvement and welfare for the animals themselves
Whatever the objective being followed, having a bull on the farm is never a choice taken lightly for the safety of the user and for health. Farm bulls frequently become aggressive with age, even more so if they are not raised in groups, and they also develop locomotor problems if their diet is not suitable. As for the females, they are not sheltered from venereal disease transmitted by the bull during natural mating, or from the ardour of an animal sometimes weighing nearly a ton!
A semen production centre is a place that is suitable for raising bulls. They require particular care which is different from that of dairy cows on a farm. The bulls are raised in groups when young and then individually once adult. They are fed with a suitable diet to limit locomotor problems. Raising bulls must combine periods of activity and periods of rest, which is not always easy to achieve on a farm.
So raising bulls requires specific tools to allow safe handling. The semen production centres and the collection procedures are adapted to the size and behaviour of the bulls. The bull stud men, whose job involves semen collection and the care of the bulls, monitor each bull individually with particular attention and strict hygiene rules.
The semen production centres have implemented good practice and equipment encouraging the welfare of reproducers in the bull stud units. Bulls are housed in 16 to 30 m2 boxes with frequent, abundant straw bedding. The settings for the ambience are controlled for animal well-being (play areas, heating, mosquito screens and sometimes music!).
Coitus is a potential vector for many diseases whereas AI considerably reduces the risk of transmitting pathogens. Artificial insemination results in health gains within a herd. Contrary to what one might think, the insemination procedure is not painful if it is done correctly. The semen is deposited after the cervix using an insemination “gun” which is introduced carefully by a technician, who has undergone training in the school and whose speciality it is. The progress of the appliance to the cervix is controlled by rectal palpation. The procedure lasts several seconds. Often the cow continues to eat or ruminate during the procedure, a sign that everything is alright with her.