Artificial Insemination…and that's no bull! UPDATE!!!

Mary Connealy

To my surprise I mentioned to some friends (well, FORMER FRIENDS, the wimps) that I came home the other day and there was semen on my front porch. (Note the warning to keep the tank upright…I”m guessing that there is NO ORDER concerning a semen tank that anyone would dare disobey.)

Their reaction – a cross between horror, amazement and completely tasteless jokes—made me think this might make a good topic for Petticoats & Pistols.
Now stick with me all you CITY GIRLS while I tell you about Artificial Insemination of cattle.
My Cowboy husband is a rancher. He has cows that give birth every spring. The next winter, he sells off the year’s calf crop and then in the spring, here come more babies.
They are unbelievable cute. And it’s a sign we are true country people because we can love them and fuss over them and coddle them and then. . . without batting an eye. . .we can eat them.
So these are beef cattle. . .not to be confused with dairy cattle. . .and My Cowboy mainly raises Angus.
Angus are black (although there are RED Angus-one is pictured above left) but for the most part when you say Angus, you mean a black cow.
The majority of his cattle are just nice, run-of-the-mill angus cows, but there is this special side to raising beef cattle that can lead to big money.
No, it hasn’t led us there yet, but My Cowboy has a dream, a cool dream, that he’ll raise that magical perfect, beautiful animal with all the right ancestors and all the right lines; wide butt, broad chest, deep belly, (uh-oh, I just described myself) and this animal will be valuable and have valuable babies and maybe even, if it happens to be a BULL it might be marketable for it’s semen.
My Cowboy and calf and mama

The picture of the calf is from our herd and that”s My Cowboy above with the annoyed mama glaring while he feeds her baby. This picture doesn”t capture My Cowboy”s basic cuteness. The cap and sunglasses really wrecks it but the man wasn”t about to pose and smile for the camera.

So, to that end, My Cowboy buys semen. He buys registered Angus cows and semen from snazzy Angus bulls and breeds the cows using artificial insemination.
I just heard Cheryl St. John scream and faint, toss some water on her, bring her around, she’s not going to want to miss the rest.
First he has to pick out semen. And for that he gets catalogues. Catalogues full of the most beautiful pictures of these magnificent, heavily muscled, shining black bulls.
With really amazing names like (these aren’t all Angus-but they”re real bulls):
Hornster, Rib Eye; Red Hot Poker; Romeo; Grand Slam; Ladies Man; Bullicious; Rapid Response; Powerhouse; Red Hot &Rollin’—I could go on forever.
Mama and Baby

They seem to have a naughty bend. . .at least quite a bit of the time. Hmmmm I guess I’ll forego a comment on that, nothing I’m thinking bears repeating.
So he buys the semen and he makes his choices on this list of things, attributes that the bull owner promises. (Many of these bulls are dead-we can talk about that if you want). Here are some sample promises:

Birth weight of 56 pounds (that’s small-which doesn’t matter and is in fact good IF the calf gains quickly, a small calf is easier for the cow to deliver and complications are reduced)
–Progeny are Strong-topped, Deep and Sound with Ample Eye-appeal (this is NOT in English, do NOT worry if you have no idea what it means)
–Structured bull who possesses loads of bone substance, base width, muscle mass and volume.
— one of the most talked about bulls in the business
— Over 100 calves ratioed 97 for birth wt. in nine herds, 103 for weaning weight, and 60 calves ratioed 102 for yearling wt (this is actually something to really brag about but I don’t have time to define all the terms, just trust me)
— This may be the most powerful “878” son you’ll see with plenty of muscle and bone. (878 is the name of another bull, in this case, this bull’s daddy.)
He gets these full color beautiful catalogues with pictures of bulls that (this is secret so don’t tell My Cowboy I said it) ALL LOOK ALIKE.
I”ve put up pictures of black angus and other types of cattle, you”ll note the black angus are all BLACK, try picking one of them out of crowd. The weird thing is, My Cowboy can do it. We have about 250 head of cattle mostly all black, a bunch of them baby calves and he KNOWS THEM APART. This from a man who can”t seem to remember it”s my BIRTHDAY, but that”s a topic for another blog.

Hereford & Simmental-Angus Cross calf in the background

They all look NICE, but c’mon, they’re black angus bulls. Of course they’re not all “the most powerful “878” son you’ll see—”, but those details don’t exactly show up in the snapshot.
Then he buys it and it’s shipped to our house (do NOT ask me who does this for a living. The vet maybe? Is there an actual ‘semen delivery man’. Does UPS handle this stuff).

The tank which looks a little like a teensy spaceship, arrives. It’s brutally killing cold inside. My Cowboy transfers this to his own brutally killing cold tank and then bides his time. Waits for the cow to – well, let’s just say ‘express an interesting in–uh–well, falling in love and getting married and going on a honeymoon–for one day” – when this happens, My Cowboy is ready.
It’s actually pretty tricky. I’m skipping details that you’d THANK me for skipping if you just knew what they are. Don’t even TALK about Gomer Bulls, that’s just too weird.
And I listen to words like cervix and ‘in heat’ and servicing and settling, and hear My Cowboy say, “I’ve got to go breed a cow” with my Wheaties in the morning and think nothing of it.
Until I mention to some city girls (Please unblock me from your email. I promise not to bring up what’s on my porch again-although I”ve got a rabid skunk story that I think you”d love. And there”s a REASON it looks like there”s been a drive-by shooting on my porch. And does anyone know where to buy large quantities of wood putty?).
And that”s what made me realize this little slice of my life might be of some interest to others.
Any questions?
If you want to know what a Gomer Bull is, Google it. I am NOT going into that. Ick.
And here for your

enjoyment, a few captions
A Gomer Bull has had surgery WHERE?


I”m being replaced with a frozen tank? I don”t think so. Bring it!

I have the best job in the world!


Mary bottle feeding a calf we call Baby Huey
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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

62 thoughts on “Artificial Insemination…and that's no bull! UPDATE!!!”

  1. Oh, Mary, you should be an Ag teacher. That was a great presentation for any class. With all the girls going Ugh and Eww. I have helped pregnancy test cows and that isn’t a very pretty thing. I’ve also had my horses in the kitchen when the door was left ajar. They would eat the veggie leavings out of the sink. Fortunate for the cement foundation. I haven’t had to pull calves, but it was close a time or two. And we have cut up beef in my kitchen with every counter covered with bloody cow parts. But, that’s life in the West, as my family says. And the counters have seen not only beef, but elk and deer being butchered and wrapped in the same place. Good times. Thanks, Mary.

  2. Fascinating! I had no idea of the selection process for getting bull sperm or of the whole insemination process.

  3. Mary what a great post!!! I enjoyed it so much… It gave me a smile and chuckle to start off my day.

  4. Mary, this blog is such a classic! I know it’s a serious process, but your description is hysterical.
    I have questions about the process, like, uh…but I will refrain from asking them.

    Happy to contribute a $25 Amazon card to today’s winner!

  5. I doubt if I’ll ever have to worry about a tank of bull semen being delivered to our house, although we have plenty of Angus living around the neighborhood.

    And I’m sure you appreciate your cowboy dealing with the delivery instead of you trying to be…uh…romantic with the cows 🙂

    I’m guessing a Gomer bull is similar to the stallion thoroughbred horse breeders use to…um…get the mares in the mood. It seems the stallions are too valuable to waste their time on romance. This little scrub stallion does all the wooing, and then they bring the big guy in for the actual…wedding (?). No artificial insemination for horses.

    Now, don’t you feel sorry for that little guy? Rejected once again in favor of the homecoming king!

    Someday, you’ll have to share the rabid skunk story!

  6. And that’s real life on a Nebraska cattle farm/ranch. My girlfriend majored in something that included this topic and invited me to observe one time. It’s probably a good thing you didn’t go into all that, Mary. LOL

  7. Jan, this one got me. >>>and then they bring the big guy in for the actual…wedding (?).

    Laughed out loud, which is pretty embarrassing because I’m not alone!

  8. Mary J, we had neighbors with a little shetland pony named Speedy who came inside once in a while if someone left the door open.
    The neighbor mom was a good friend and it just gave her stories to tell at coffee get togethers.
    Ah…life in the country.

  9. My family use to raise Steers. It was the best thing growing up and seeing baby calfs be born. We had one of the meanest bulls that we had to at some point get rid of but i remember that one time he flipped one of the momma steers in the feeding trough. It took my 3 men and my mom to get her out. lets just say after that the bull was to ornery to even give to someone else so he was our next dinner guest lol. Thanks for your posts!

  10. By Mary’s definition I must be a country girl. If only she lived closer. 🙂 We buy an Angus steer in the spring, fatten him up all summer, haul him away in the fall and he returns to us in vacuum sealed freezer bags a month or so later.

    My children have come up with some interesting names for our yearly guest: Bob (Bunch Of Beef), Sir Loin, and Moos-a-lot. Can you guess how the last one got his name? LOL

    Thanks for the “class” Mary. I enjoyed reading about the semen on your front porch. LOL

  11. This is definitely a memorable post. I would love to read your rabid skunk story. I hope you share that one someday.

  12. Cori, bulls can be really dangerous, mama cows, too.
    My Cowboy has learned a lot of tricks, the main one being to just be WARY of them. You just never know how a mama’s going to react when someone fools around with her baby calf.
    We have one cow this year My Cowboy had nicked named Killer.
    When I was a kid I grew up on a dairy farm and Holstein bulls are so much more dangerous than beef bulls. Wow, they are really killers, honestly, the majority of them.

  13. that’s the spirit, Ginger!
    You know the animals in this world that are utterly NOT endangered…are the ones people eat. You want to save the polar bear? Start serving them on a nice bed of rice with a side salad.

  14. Mary, I love this blog! I laughed as much the second time around as I did when this blog first appeared long ago. Thank goodness for your amazing humor or else you’d be in real trouble. Who knew ranching could be so entertaining? Thank you for the wonderful start to my day, Filly sister.

  15. Well I’m not saying that it wasn’t interesting.. but I am glad you realized there could have been a bit TMI and stopped. Now I’m ready to hear about the rabid skunk..and I am handy with wood putty..

  16. Well I certainly learned something today that I’m not sure I will ever have a use for. LOL, but it was very interesting that’s for sure. I laughed quite a few times thinking of people’s reactions while reading this! Great post

  17. Baby Huey is exceptional in that he was born by Cesarean section.
    My Cowboy had to haul the mama to the vet, 20 miles in a blizzard. Why is it always that these things happen in a blizzard, huh?
    Mama was little. Baby was big.
    btw did you know a cow cesarean costs $200? And the cow and calf are fine. Seriously, if you’re going to have a baby, hang around a vet. Very affordable.

  18. Of course the cow had to stand up for the whole thing, but the vet gave her a bunch of shots of something…novacaine maybe. C’mon, to save 20k on the cesarean? Get tough and do it.

  19. Mary, I love your ranching(farmer) stories! I’ve been through all of that! My city friends just don’t understand all of farm life and especially don’t get that I can bottle feed that adorable little calf, name them, coddle them and then turn around and eat them! I tell them that is what they live for!! Of course having been a city gal myself (well town girl) I had to learn all that after marrying my farmer guy. AND there were times I wondered if I would live through it but we will celebrate 50 years this fall so I guess I did okay!

  20. OMG. Mary, I laughed all the way through this. What a hoot. Now, if one wants more of the insemination details, just watch the listings on Dirty Jobs. the host Mike Rowe actually visited a cattle ranch in Texas and helped gather the semen, (yes there was electricity involved), then “plant the seed”.

    MMM. Almost TMI, but one should know these things, right?!


  21. It really is fascinating lol. A few years back I made a visit to distant relatives who breed Percherons and in fact for a long while had the largest one in the U.S. They also bred them and showed us all the equipment and the details. It’s all quite amazing lol. Of course I would think bulls would be a lot more difficult to work with althought the whole process must be somewhat similar. I do believe they made a fortune on selling the semen too!

  22. This is the funniest AI article I have ever read….it’s also the only one, but I’m sure it’s the funniest out there. 🙂 I don’t have a horse that comes inside, but my chickens like to come in and see if they can find the cat food dish.

    And people think it’s weird that I ask my 6 year old which chicken she wants to eat and she’ll choose one–even though she’s named them all. We even talk about “Roosty” or “Conn” as we eat him. But she’s been out butchering chickens with us since she could walk–that’s what they’re there for!

    And I had chickens growing up, but the roosters we’ve had since we’ve been in this house? They’re all killers! I won’t post what I do to them when they attack me from behind or chase a kiddo—some PETA person might turn me in for defending myself. Crazy, rabid, free-ranging roosters.

  23. Howdy, Mary, I love this post as much today as athe first time. And I’m loving your pix on Facebook. Reminds me how boring my life is LOL. Best wishes with the new release. xo

  24. Wow, this brings back memories. Our family used to do insemination but stopped because it seemed all the calves were male – Dad wanted to increase his herd not have to haul it off to market. And if there’s one thing to make you want to rethink a ranching life, it’s having to “pull” a calf in the dead of night 🙂

  25. Is there any subject you can’t make funny? 🙂 It was very interesting, and the bulls do all look alike to me.

  26. Yes, interesting post, admire UR restraint on some TMI but appreciated the Gomer explanation which sounded familiar. BTW, just bought EIGHT of UR books! next to be read!!

  27. Way more information than I wanted to know about cows but hey, I couldn’t stop reading. Interesting. I remember visiting my grandparents farm in Colorado when I was little and seeing the baby cows…not much cuter than them. Well, except baby lambs which are adorable.

  28. Mary, I can’t help thinking that there’s a futuristic book in all that story—only it’s the humanoid females choosing the fathers of their children, from catalogs- comparing the characteristics and traits of the males shown in the gorgeous hunky photos of the men. Wouldn’t that be a catalog to get in your mail box?

  29. I feel like I should be in the girls sex ed class. Thankfully I went to this class in the comfort and embarrassment of my own home. Thank you, Mary. Will there be a quiz?

  30. Grew up on a farm and that’s the way it was done! We had to stay away from the “boese Bah” which means bad cow in German. My son had to help do this when he took a class at SLO.

  31. Cybercliper, My Cowboy goes out for a 9 pm walk through the herd and again at 2 am. He’s mainly worried about the first calf heifers, the older cows have obviously successfully given birth before, right???
    So we’ve got two more heifers to go, then maybe he can start sleeping again

  32. Jamie Adams, I don’t know if there is any subject I can’t make funny…..however, I’m pretty sure there are a few I SHOULDN’T make funny. And this may be one of them!!!!

  33. I raise horses although I only have my stallion and 3 mares that I breed to him! I have never AI my mares! It’s not fun to collect semen, I have watched this procedure at a farm years ago! I hand bred my mares for years, now I just turn my stud out with them! I enjoyed your story about AI your bulls!
    A Gomer Bull is a bull that has his penis surgically altered so that he can’t breed any cows. He is used for heat detection.
    Bless his heart!

  34. I need to get to my computer earlier in the day. You pick winners too early.

    Anyway, enjoyed the post. I was not raised on a ranch or farm but actually knew what you were talking about and the terms used. I went to a dairy farm to “help” when I was in high school and obviously learned more than I thought. Except they used real bulls and that was much more dangerous. Victor was a mean piece of work and rather dangerous. The big herford bull they had was a sweetheart and quite placid. We did have other neighbors who raised black angus. Don’t really know when I picked up all that information.

    I remember we begged our mom to get a calf to raise for meat. She was a wise woman. She knew we would make a pet of it. She said we’d look into those beautiful big eyes and never be able to have it killed and eat it. She was right.

    Thanks again for an interesting post and some good pictures.

  35. Ahhaha, Mary, you are just TOO funny for one person. I can only imagine opening the front door to that package. Bet UPS loves coming to your house. 🙂

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