If you're experienced with artificial insemination procedures, then you've run across cows or heifers that were difficult to inseminate. The typical problem cow has a reproductive track that lacks tone (it's placid, not firm), and there is no estrual mucus present to help the breeding tube pass easily through the cervix. You struggle to get the semen deposited in the right location, then wonder if your efforts were wasted. She was hard to breed. Does that mean she won't conceive?

Based on research conducted at Kansas State University, only a small percentage of those difficult-to-inseminate cows actually conceive to an AI service. It may not be as bad as pouring semen on the ground, but it's not a whole lot better.

In the K-State study, 242 cows and heifers were subjectively scored by AI technicians as either "easier than normal", "normal" or "more difficult than normal" to inseminate after treatment with SyncroMate B.

Females with observed estrual mucus, firm reproductive tract tone and easier-than-normal passage of the breeding tube through the cervix were given an "easier than normal" score. Those with poor tone and difficult tube passage were scored "difficult". All others were considered "normal."

The results illustrate that insemination ease is an indicator of AI success. Fifty-eight head were considered easier than normal to inseminate, and 31 of these females (53 percent) conceived to the AI breeding. Of the 162 females that were rated as "normal," 72 of those (44 percent) conceived. Only 22 females were considered difficult to inseminate, and only 2 females (9 percent) conceived.

The research suggests that most difficult-to-inseminate females were not in heat to begin with. Lack of estrus is the likely reason both for the difficult insemination and the extremely low conception rates commonly experienced with these females.