Selection begins with an honest assessment of where your cattle are currently in terms of the performance measures that are important to you. Do you want to increase weaning or yearling weights? Do you need to improve end-carcass quality? Is calving difficulty a problem in your herd? What are your goals for improvement? Once you determine where your cattle currently are in relation to your goals, you will have some direction to guide selection of breeding stock. You can then look for sires that excel in the traits that you want to improve. A word of caution: Avoid any single-trait selection as it can lead to unintended consequences. For example, focus solely on increasing weaning weight will likely cause an increase in birth weight. Any selection decisions should be balanced to consider all important traits. The use of selection indexes can aid in this balance.
As per the National Association of Animal Breeders (NAAB), a semen straw has the bull's name with country and registration number. For example, 840003205704153 RMD-DOTTERER SSI GAMEDAY-ET is the bull's registration number and registered name. The 840 at the beginning of the registration number means that the animal is wearing a U.S. radio frequency identification (RFID) tag and is likely registered in the United States, and the leading two 0’s may be omitted to save printing space on the straw. Additionally, the straw has an NAAB Uniform Code that identifies either the production center where the semen was produced or the organization that is marketing the semen, breed code, and bull identification (ID) number within source organization. In this example, the NAAB Uniform Code is 7HO15167. The first number 7 is the stud or marketing code for conventional semen marketed by Select Sires; HO is the breed code for Holstein, and 15167 is the bull ID number assigned by Select Sires. All assigned NAAB codes must be reported to NAAB and enrolled in the cross-reference database. Straws with the CSS logo have been processed according to the strict quality and biosecurity requirements of NAAB’s Certified Semen Services (CSS) program. Each straw includes even more traceability information, and more examples and details can be found at www.naab-css.org/naab-uniform-coding-system or at the educational website www.usacattlegenetics.com/bulls-for-ai/read-us-semen-straws. Additionally, NAAB has a database that contains the codes for each AI source organization. (Updated April 10, 2023)
Faculty at many U.S. agricultural universities offer classes on cattle handling, optimizing pastures, artificial insemination (AI), and grazing management, especially across the western and southwestern United States. For example, Extension faculty at the University of Idaho offer the Lost Rivers Grazing Academy each year, which is a national award-winning pasture management program. They also offer classes in beef quality assurance, which often includes proper handling, and AI courses are taught annually.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also conducts several educational programs across North America. Stockmanship and Stewardship is a unique 2-day educational experience featuring low-stress cattle handling demonstrations, Beef Quality Assurance educational sessions, facility design sessions to best run your operation, and industry updates. Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, State-implemented program that provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common-sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.
If you have an interest in attending specific training, please email me (email@example.com) with details, and I will connect you with Extension faculty or organizations in the United States that can meet your needs. (Updated August 10, 2023)
The current requirements for importing livestock genetics products into various countries around the world can be found on the website of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/export/iregs-for-animal-exports/ct_iregs_animal_exports_home. Scroll down the page to the green box "IRegs for LIVE Animals"; then select the desired country from the dropdown menu. Information is arranged by species. If you have additional questions, please contact one of the livestock exporters listed in the online USLGE member directory.
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