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Bulls added to horse auction due to artificial insemination demand

oreo-cows_webPRAIRIE — Buyers shopping the Mississippi State University horse auction may be surprised to see bulls in the online photo lineup this fall.

This is the second year for horses in the annual Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station’s production sale to be auctioned online with eBay-style bidding. All the animals are available for viewing at www.auction.msucares.com.

The bulls pictured on the site are not for sale. Producers can buy top-grade semen from sires used for artificial insemination for the upcoming fall breeding season or even later.

Jane Parish, research and Extension professor at the MSU Prairie Research Unit in Monroe County, said purchasing semen has become a common practice as the number of producers using artificial insemination has grown in the last decade or so. Cattle producers often choose artificial insemination methods to improve their herds’ genetics. With proper storage, the semen can remain viable for years.

“Producers all over the country routinely buy bull semen online from a variety of companies. This year, MSU is offering top-quality genetics, including some rare lines, at competitive prices,” she said.

Parish said breeds available include Angus, Braford, Brangus, Gelbvieh, Hereford and Red Angus. Some of the bulls are no longer available to produce sperm, so supplies of those lines are limited. Buyers can view pedigree and expected progeny difference information by way of web links for each bull listed in the auction.

Parish said artificial insemination allows producers to handpick the best sires and significantly multiply their offspring. Producers typically purchase semen from commercial dealers. One collection from a bull can produce 200 straws of semen. Theoretically, after being deposited in a cow, each straw could produce a calf. Since the early 1990s, MSU has hosted insemination classes in the spring and fall for cattle producers.

“We don’t just teach artificial insemination to improve genetics; we practice it,” Parish said. “We are as committed to genetic improvement as any cattle producer should be.”

Bidding on the horses is from Nov. 14-21, but the bull semen will be available until the first week in December. Exact endings are posted on each lot.

The online auction is a joint effort by the experiment station, the MSU Extension Service and the Extension Center for Technology Outreach.

Extension instructor Steve Hankins said the horses will be sold to the highest bidders by traditional bidding, but the bull semen has a “Buy it now” option that will offer each lot for a much quicker purchase at current market values.

“Buyer registration involves the bidder creating a user name and password, along with his or her full name, mailing address, email address and phone number,” Hankins said. “Buyers can pay with checks and debit or credit cards.”

Parish said the money from the semen auction will go back into MSU’s beef cattle research program.

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