If conception rates begin falling at your ranch, you and your employees may want to review artificial insemination techniques.

One common mistake, says Mel DeJarnette, reproductive specialist at Select Sires, Plain City, Ohio, is not depositing the semen in the correct location within the reproductive tract. AI experts agree that inseminators should not place semen in the cervix. This causes high retrograde losses of sperm cells, or those cells lost with urination and mucous discharges. Research trials have been inconclusive about whether semen should be placed in the uterine body or the uterine horn. Placing semen in the uterine horn puts it closer to the eggs for fertilization, but also can cause trauma to the uterus, decreasing fertilization rates. Most AI organizations recommend producers place semen in the uterine body.

"If a producer is not sure if the uterine body has been reached, it is better to go a few additional centimeters toward a uterine horn than to fall short and place semen in the cervix," notes Mr. DeJarnette. Placing semen in the uterine horn is less likely to compromise fertility than cervical deposition.