DIY insemination is a popular option for many dairy and beef farmers and offers benefits of more flexibility around timing of AI, as well as more selection and the ability to purchase straws from bulls across different AI providers.   However, results can be variable largely to do with the training and ability of the farmer as an inseminator.  Professional training is essential and refresher courses are a good idea especially in herds with a seasonal breeding season where AI is not carried out year-round.

Successful AI and achieving high conception rates is founded on accurate heat detection, inseminating the cow at the correct time, correct handling of both the cow and semen, correct and accurate insemination technique.


Heat Detection

First and foremost, before AI can take place, we must successfully detect cows in heat.  This is down to management skills of the farmer, with help from observational and technological aids becoming ever more popular.  Poor heat detection will lead to heats being missed but can also lead to cows submitted for AI that are not in heat and wasted AI straws.

Timing of AI

The optimum time to AI is 12-16 hours after the start of standing heat to give fertilisation the best chance of taking place, if using sexed semen that can be altered to 14-20 hours.

The Cow

Before getting your straw and AI gun ready, you must have the cows restrained and ready.  Avoid stressing the cow, a comfortable cow will be easier to handle and AI and hence have a greater chance of conception.

Handling the Straw

Straws should be removed from the goblet using a forceps and placed directly into water at 35°C to thaw for approximately 45 seconds.  Labelling is important to minimise the handling of straws and length of time the goblet is held out of the flask when sorting/searching for the correct straw.

Once thawed the straw should dried off and loaded in a preheated gun, then cut the crimped end and slowly press the plunger on the gun until the semen reaches the top of the straw.


Using a paper towel, clean down the cow’s vulva.  Using a full-arm length glove with lubricant, the arm is inserted into the rectum, removing any excess dung.

Locate the cervix, then clean the vulva again before inserting the gun almost vertically to start at an angle of 30-40%.

Guide the gun slowly to meet the cervix then manipulate the cervix over the tip of the gun using your hand.

Once the gun is through the cervix, the semen should be deposited slowly over 5 seconds in the short chamber of the uterine horns, taking care not to place the semen into just one horn.


Hygiene and cleanliness are of utmost important to reduce the risk of infection or spreading disease between cows.

Maintain clean equipment and clean any soiled guns by using boiling water.  Wiping and cleaning the vulva before placing the gun inside is highly important to avoid bringing dirt into the cow which can lead to infection.

Avoid splitting straws, do not reuse AI sheaths, and always use a clean disposable glove for each individual cow.


For further advice on any of the above, please contact a member of the Moocall team to speak to some of our breeding specialists on +353 1 96 96 038 or email