Artificial Insemination

Edited by Jamie (ScienceAid Editor), Jen Moreau

Artificial Insemination (AI) is the use of collected semen from bulls to inseminate and impregnate cows; without the two ever having to meet.

Selective breeding

Without the aid of modern scientific knowledge or techniques, getting the ideal characteristics for your farm crop or animals took generations. It is done by a process known as selective breeding. It works like this...

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

If A Farmer wants to get cows who produce more milk, he will mate the best cows with bulls who come from a mother that produces a lot of milk. In the hope of producing calves who have high milk yields. He will then carry this process on with the offspring and after many years, his cows will be producing more milk and he will be making more money!

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

This is a technique to try and combine all the best (most productive) genes together in one cow. Of course there isn't really an end-point to this because you are always needing to strike a balance between different things depending on the circumstances. Artificial insemination allows selective breeding to be sped up.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Collection and Storage of Semen

Bulls are trained to ejaculate (emit semen) into an artificial vagina, where the semen can be collected.

The ejaculate is analysed and can be diluted to 500 samples. Egg yolk and glycerol are used to protect the sperm cells from ice crystals.

The samples are put into 0.25ml straws that are then gradually cooled until they are stored in liquid nitrogen at -196oC (77 kelvin) and can remain as such indefinitely.


The insemination must take place when the cow is ovulating, this is called Oestrus, and she displays behaviour that indicates to the farmer she is ready to be inseminated.

The straw is warmed to body temperature before use and then put into an insemination gun or catheter which is inserted into the cow's vagina and positioned past the cervix (which filters sperm) and then deposited. Ensuring the sperm arrive in time for ovulation.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help


The characteristics of bulls are recorded so that a farmer can select the preferred characteristics (phenotype) for his calves. Like: High milk yield Improved mammary gland shape Stronger legs. It is more cost effective for the farmer, since he does not need to keep a bull for insemination himself.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

There is greater flexibility, because a farmer can have a variety of calves from different fathers, bred for different traits.

Bulls can be very aggressive, so keeping them is potentially dangerous. With AI, the farmer need not keep the bull and so improves safety.

Many diseases can be passed on by sexual contact. Sperm donors have tight controls over their health, so their semen is unlikely to contain pathogens that may infect the cows.

Referencing this Article

If you need to reference this article in your work, you can copy-paste the following depending on your required format:

APA (American Psychological Association)
Artificial Insemination. (2017). In ScienceAid. Retrieved Apr 25, 2024, from

MLA (Modern Language Association) "Artificial Insemination." ScienceAid, Accessed 25 Apr 2024.

Chicago / Turabian "Artificial Insemination." Accessed Apr 25, 2024.

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


ScienceAid welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Article Info

Categories : Genetics

Recent edits by: Jamie (ScienceAid Editor)

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 828 times.


Thank Our Volunteer Authors.

Would you like to give back to the community by fixing a spelling mistake? Yes | No