High value AI industry costing new hands

Artificial insemination technicians hope next generation will be supported by producers

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Old hands are worried the next generation aren't being given a start.

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The high value of semen and embryos nowadays means trainee technicians struggle to find cattle to develop their skills. File photo.

The high value of semen and embryos nowadays means trainee technicians struggle to find cattle to develop their skills. File photo.

The expense of limited edition genetics and sexed semen could be costing the artificial breeding industry future technicians with the next generation failing to flow through.

As confidence runs high following seasonal breaks, demand for artificial breeding programs has risen as producers look to rebuild.

But there isn't the same influx of young blood taking up the profession.

Excel Genetics owner Geoff Steinbeck of Dungowan got his start AI'ing cattle from just 12. Now, 51 years later, he is conducting programs ranging from 50 to 1000 head, averaging 150 head a day.

With the big dollar value in semen and embryos nowadays he said trainee technicians struggled to find cattle to develop their skills.

"It's one of the few things in the world that you do that you can't actually see what you are doing and it takes a while to learn," he said.

"It is very very hard for a young person to get training when people have got a lot of dollars riding on the program and they want a result.

"It is almost impossible to get big operations that will allow a trainee to inseminate because they don't want to lose out.

"It's not about saying we won't charge you for the insemination. They are saying well we are losing a straw, we are losing potential calves so they don't want young people doing it and that's where it gets really tricky."

Australian Premier Genetics managing director Caitlin Warner agreed.

Australian Premier Genetics managing director Caitlin Warner.

Australian Premier Genetics managing director Caitlin Warner.

Having started out AI'ing on her own cattle from about 2007 she had planned to become an AI technician but instead found a love for semen collection and embryo work.

"What I found and I think a lot of young people getting in into the AI business probably struggle with is one, getting the experience that you need to be confident and to get out there and get good results for producers and two building a client base," she said.

"Because a lot of stud breeders and even commercial breeders who use AI have an AI tech they are happy with and gets them good results and they don't want to change.

"So when a new young person comes in who doesn't have the experience they don't often get the start they need."

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