Home > Breeding Animals > Artificial Insemination and Breeding Animals

Artificial Insemination and Breeding Animals

By: Margaret Paxton - Updated: 25 Mar 2024 | comments*Discuss
Breeding Animals Artificial Insemination

Animals in fields, doing what comes naturally, is becoming a less frequent sight. With selective breeding and frozen semen available, the whole process of livestock reproduction has changed dramatically; from natural mating to scientifically planned breeding.

What is Artificial Insemination?

Artificial insemination is used instead of natural mating for reproduction purposes. This is when a male animal, for example, a bull, is kept with a herd of cows and ‘covers’ (copulates with) them when they are ready to be mated (in oestrus) so the bull’s semen fertilises the cow’s eggs to produce calves. Artificial insemination is the process (performed by vets) of injecting the bull’s semen into the cow’s cervix or uterus when she is in oestrus. Fertilisation can take place away from the bull and the two animals do not even meet!

The bull’s semen is collected with the use of a ‘dummy’ cow that smells like a normal cow in oestrus, or by using a real cow, but the penis of the bull is inserted into an artificial vagina. The bull ‘covers’ the cow and his semen is collected through the synthetic vagina and stored accordingly.

In a normal mating, a bull produces about 500 times the amount of semen needed to enable the cow to conceive. With AI semen can be diluted and used fresh, chilled or frozen. The addition of glycerol to the diluted sperm allows it to be frozen for years; without losing its fertility. In commercial practice the sperm may be diluted 20+ times. It is then stored in plastic tubes (called straws) for future use.

Why Use Artificial Insemination?

The use of artificial insemination promotes the improvement of livestock by using the sperm of the best males of the species, on a greater population of females, than would naturally occur. As a conservation tool, artificial insemination can be very useful for breeds at risk. The ability to freeze semen also helps to ensure the survival of rare gene pools, for example endangered species.

Other advantages include: the fact that female animals do not have to be transported to stud for mating because the sperm is delivered to the breeder; diseases are less likely to be spread and genetic mutations are not passed on because only the sperm of healthy, stringently tested, male animals are used; injuries that may sometimes occur during natural mating (biting, kicking, crushing) do not happen when AI is used; farmers or breeders in remote places and foreign countries can improve their stock.

The extra work, expense and responsibility of keeping a bull or stallion on site for breeding purposes is no longer necessary because breeders can choose the sire for their cows or mares young without having to own him.

Which Animals can Artificial Insemination be Used On?

Artificial insemination is mainly used on dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, buffalo, camelids and dogs. Sorry, no budgerigars need apply.

Selection of Male Animals for Stud

Young bulls must be approved by veterinarian and governmental bodies to be used in a strictly limited number of test inseminations at artificial insemination centres. This is so the progeny of each bull can be assessed. The bulls are then ‘laid off’ for some time until the milk-production records of 40-50 of their daughters can be analysed. These results indicate the bull’s breeding value. In exceptional circumstances, where a young bull is believed to have highly superior genes, several thousand straws of his sperm may be collected at an early stage, in case he dies before test results are established.

Stallions are selected for use in AI through similar stringent testing.


The use of artificial insemination enables animal breeders to select top bloodlines for the improvement of their stock. Specialist AI centres are run under strict regulations and by qualified veterinarians, along with veterinary nurses and students. Stockmen, herdsmen and stallion men, who have done the appropriate training may carry out the instrumental procedures required on approved cows, mares, sows, ewes and so on, whichever animal species they breed.

The work requires a variety of attributes; most of all a sense of humour!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Hello Sir/Madam,, I am Kathlean WU and an overseas publicist for Beijing Green Auris Biotechnology Co., Ltd. Beijing Green Auris Biotechnology Co., Ltd. is located in Beijing, China. Our company independently researched and developed animals insemination (AI) equipment,frozen animal semen production equipment and special reagents, developed intelligent animal gene bank management system, germplasm resource gene bank overall equipment solution. Our main products include: Animal semen Thin tube filling machine; Computer analysis of semen quality system; Controlled-rate Freezer for(Embryonic cells, Animal semen or cells ); Electric stimulation animal sperm collector; Intelligent gene vessel; Animal semen freezing reagent; We are looking for overseas partners, if you interested, please contact with us. I apologize if disturbed. Thank you! Kind Regards Kathlean
Kathlean Wu - 25-Mar-24 @ 1:45 AM
I wish I could learn more about (AI) I always wanna become one of artificial inseminators , I wanna learn a lot about this topic and breeding
lamarck - 22-Feb-17 @ 9:16 AM
i wish toget moreon this topic
budget - 8-May-15 @ 3:57 AM
i am sri lanka animal breeding officer
pissa - 15-Aug-14 @ 5:08 AM
In a personal opinion, if artificial insemination did not exist what else could be done to help the animals reproduce more? which other methods are there to choose from?
kiddiefiddler - 15-May-14 @ 12:40 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Vic
    Re: Run your own Animal Shelter
    Hello to Callum, I am based in Cheltenham and am animal crazy, I wan to rescue also! I do know a farmer who will give me a bit of…
    20 April 2024
  • Cal
    Re: Run your own Animal Shelter
    Hi there, My name is Callum, I'm currently working full time in leisure in the south west (Wiltshire) I'm also buying and…
    18 April 2024
  • Hele
    Re: Run your own Animal Shelter
    Hi, my daughter (24y) seems to be collecting unwanted animals so far she has 4 horses, 2 cats , a dog and today someone gave her…
    11 April 2024
  • Andrea
    Re: Run your own Animal Shelter
    Hi Dani That would be amazing. I am still in the process of getting my veterinary nurse qualification once I have completed the…
    2 April 2024
  • Kathlean Wu
    Re: Artificial Insemination and Breeding Animals
    Hello Sir/Madam,, I am Kathlean WU and an overseas publicist for Beijing Green Auris Biotechnology Co.,…
    25 March 2024
  • Chloe o Sullivan
    Re: Run your own Animal Shelter
    Hi,im doing a project in school on How much would it cost too open a animal shelter?Hopefully if this does eventually happen it…
    14 March 2024
  • weezie
    Re: General Work Experience with Animals
    Hi my name is elouize reed i am 14 years old trying to find work experience. I love animals i have grown with so many…
    6 March 2024
  • Enya and kikidee
    Re: Run your own Animal Shelter
    Can I have more info on hiw to start up a rescue centre please as I would love a dig rescue / rehabilitation center animals…
    2 March 2024
  • Ari
    Re: General Work Experience with Animals
    Hello, I am 15 years old and I am interested in taking in part in animal work experience as I have a burning passion to…
    25 February 2024
  • Fiona
    Re: Run your own Animal Shelter
    Hi there, I’m thinking of starting up an animal rescue/ farm in the East Yorkshire area but I have no idea how or where to…
    25 February 2024