Posted By: Rosie Lyle

Empowering Farmers: Insights from Our Comprehensive AI Training Program

In October, we hosted another successful AI course. We had four delegates learning about AI for the first time and one delegate attending for an AI refresher. All trainees had slightly varied reasons for attending the course, some to be able to support the team of AI-trained staff already on their farm and others to enable their farm to be less reliant on AI technicians. 

Day one was hosted by Vet Charlie; this day is classroom-based with lectures and practicals on semen handling and AI on abattoir specimens and our Shepton training cow. It is vitally important that all the fundamentals are understood, including the legislation surrounding who can perform AI on cows before we start to put the knowledge and skills learnt into practice on live cows. Attendees learn about key reproductive anatomy using both the abattoir reproductive tracts and our training cow and as well as understanding the oestrus cycle and heat detection. They also learn the fundamentals of flask and straw storage and management, as well as correct thawing and semen handling. 

Day two and three were hosted by vet Rosie and Alan from AB Cow Support. These two days are on the farm, and this is where trainees get the opportunity to practice and consolidate the skills and knowledge, they learnt on day one. Often, day two is challenging initially for delegates, but with time people start to grasp the new skill. During these sessions, all aspects of AI are practiced, and we have active discussions about fertility management using real-life data focusing on recording and monitoring AI outcomes. Host farms also give us an insight into how this is implemented on a day-to-day basis. Our AI refresher joined us on for the day which allowed us to review their knowledge and techniques and give the most up to date advice on these.  

The final day ends with a practical test where delegates demonstrated the skills, they have learnt from identifying and safely retraining the animals, semen selection, thawing and handling, and AI. They used a special straw which allows us to ultrasound scan the cow to see if the “semen” is deposited in the correct place. At the end of the course, trainees were able to safely perform AI on live cows, and now all they needed to do is go away and build their experience. The AI course includes a follow-up session with individuals 6–8 weeks after their course to support their progression. 


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