Pablo Roque is an A.I. technician from Jerome, Idaho, who works for several dairies across the southern region of the No. 3 milk-producing state in the U.S. He breeds cows and performs preg checks. Originally from Tomatlán, Jalisco, in Mexico, Roque began his dairy career in the state of Washington managing several dairies.
Throughout his dairy career, Roque took advantage of seminars and courses to learn more about dairy cattle reproduction. He now has 26 years of experience working in the field of cattle reproduction. When Roque is out on a job site, he makes sure to always have the following five items.
1. Semen tank
“This item is the basis for all the work that we do as breeders,” Roque says. “The semen tank is where you will carry the semen.”
Roque says that regardless of the provider or semen type, all semen straws must be properly stored in the tank and removed only when necessary.
2. Thawing kit
Roque explains that the thawing unit is a must. Roque likes to group three items in his semen thawing kit which includes a water bath, thermometer and stopwatch.
Although some breeders don’t use thermometers, Roque does because he likes to make sure the water’s temperature remains constant at all times which, in the end, reduces the margin of error in the thawing process.
The stopwatch helps keep track of how long the semen is thawing and makes sure the breeder stays on track, Roque says.
3. A.I. gun and sheaths
Roque says familiarizing yourself with the A.I. gun is essential, because this is the tool that will be used to introduce the semen into the uterus of the cow. The disposable sheaths are also important because they prevent infections from occurring or spreading from one cow to the next.
4. Gun warmer
The gun warmer helps maintain a constant temperature of the semen straws once they have been thawed. The warmer regulates the temperature of the semen straws. The lights will blink on and off and the heating elements can shut off once the temperature reaches a certain temperature.
“If the outside temperature is too cold or hot, there is less chance of thermic shock to the semen,” Roque says.
5. Record-keeping system
Although many dairies use different record-keeping systems, Roque prefers to use a Palm Pilot whenever possible to keep accurate records of the work he does on the dairy. Cow records are one of the most important things Roque monitors in his day-to-day tasks. The information he can review prior to working on a cow includes the days in milk of the cow as well as how many times she has been serviced.
“Using a results sheet, I can tell which bulls are working best for the dairy and monitor how I am doing in terms of cows serviced versus conception rates.”
Roque adds that this line of work is very delicate and important because the future of any dairy operation lies in its reproductive success.
“This is a process,” Roque says. “Without any of these items you will not be able to complete your job.” PD