Well, pregnancy testing is over. Thank goodness. Anxiety dissipates as the verdict “Pregnant” … “Pregnant” … “Pregnant” exits the vet’s mouth and I add another tick alongside another cow’s name.

The first mating season I was here, I had the girls AI’d (Artificially Inseminated) by a local technician. It’s a method I have always used with the ‘leased out’ girls as, obviously, I couldn’t put my bull with them. I had to purchase and import the semen I wanted from overseas (because the New Zealand companies haven’t cottoned on to Naturally Polled A2A2 yet) and I would send the straws to the people leasing my herd to store in their Semen Bank for my girls.

Occasionally there would be a mistake made and a frantic phone call would be received … “Althea. I’m sorry. I’ve put the wrong straw into your cow!” “Well, there’s not much you can do about that,” I would say. “You can’t take it back again. Don’t worry. It happens. Just grab one of my straws in exchange if you like.” **Sigh of relief on the other end of the phone**

I never looked at this phone call as a disaster as I have sometimes got an amazing outcross calf from the mistake. The bull I have used over the girls for the last two mating seasons was one of those mistakes. Middelmost Audiobull was sired from a top LIC Okura Manhattan straw which was accidentally put into Middelmost Dutch Favourite (who was also one of my best-producing cows). Favourite came from a strong polled family line and her calf, Audiobull, was born without horns. A DNA sample confirmed the parentage and that he also had the A2A2 component. Yay! I have his first crop on the ground now and the “Pregnant. … Pregnant” diagnosis last week means he has been a good boy again this season.

But, getting back to the AI’ing … I had put Audiobull with the heifers that first season here to see if he would do the job. The young ladies loved him and he quickly ran out of work to do. In the meantime, the AI’ing was becoming a bit of a debacle as, being a bit naïve, I thought it was normal for the technician to have a couple of pretty girls doing the insemination. Turns out he was ‘training’ them and, as my cows are quiet and easy to handle, he was using my herd for the ‘practicals’. I became alarmed as cows began to recycle. I knew my heat detection timing was right as, being a small herd, it was easy to do a quick check twice a day. They all had patches on their rumps which changed colour when the girls humped each other (these were replaced with a new blank patch when they were AI’d) and I made regular notes about the cow-behaviour activities I saw. With things not going as well as I thought they should, I looked up the herd’s mating records and, while a couple of the cows had been inseminated more than once in a past season, all the rest were first-time connections. I decided enough was enough when one cow was receiving the third $35 straw and I let Audiobull take over from the AI Technician. Audio said, “Thank you, Mum,” went straight out to work and, within four weeks, every cow left with a blank patch had coloured up with no further returns.

So, I didn’t bother with AI’ing this last season. Audiobull went out with the girls on the 15th of October and got gleefully mobbed. I knew he had done a good job again but it was still a worry as the vet scooted down each row of cows with his scanning wand.

The great thing about it is that Honey is in calf. The not-so-great thing about it, is that Peppermint is too and I shall have to put up with her for yet another season!