Nine Tocal College agriculture students recently spent two days shoulder deep inside cows learning the ins and outs of pregnancy testing cattle, guided by Burrell Creek farmer, Stephen Brown, who owns and runs No Bull Artificial Breeding and Training.
Steve has been training Tocal's Certificate IV Agriculture students in pregnancy testing for the past eight years.
"I enjoy it. I love passing this skill on to the young ones. These are our future - young people like this in agriculture. They're going to feed us at the end of the day," Steve said.
Previously, Steve held his classes at Gloucester, but he is now able to train farmers and students in artificial insemination (AI) and pregnancy testing on his own property with a purpose built training facility that has been in place the last year and a half.
"It's a really decent setup that he's got," said Jonathon Billing, who works on the family dairy farm in Dorrigo.
"He's used his experience to design something that is easy for other people to come in and use. I'm assuming that at other days like this, or training experiences, you'd almost be lining up behind the one cow that is in a crush, whereas with this you've got cows in a much more relaxed experience. They're not getting their heads locked in a crush, they're just having some grain.
"It's not stressful for the animals and it's not stressful for the people that are new to this trying to have a go."
The students said they found the experience very educational and praised Steve's teaching abilities.
"Steve's introduction is very well thought out before you actually have the learning experience. And he's there right next to you explaining what you should be feeling and how things work, so it's a very educational experience," Jonathon said.
"No pun intended, but Steve has tried to maximise how hands on the experience is. He's organised to see reproductive organs at various stages of a cow's life. So he has the reproductive systems for younger cows, older cows, and a couple of cows that had foetuses that we could have a look at.
"There's a really in depth explanation of what everything is. I grew up on a dairy farm and it's the first time I've ever preg tested a cow, I haven't even put my hand in, so to have that guidance was good."
National herd shortage
Steve's AI business is busy. His monthly three-day AI courses are booked out until next year, and he has had to run two courses each month this year to meet the demand.
"I'm lucky I've got the passion, I love doing it. I love inseminating cows correctly and I love training people correctly."
The drought has seriously depleted herds and it will take more than a few years to get numbers back to 'normal', Steve said. So many cattle were slaughtered because of the lack of feed, and now cattle prices have skyrocketed as people try and build there herds back up.
He sees AI as being critical to building the national herd back up again.
"Now is a good time to artificially inseminate cows," Steve said.
"As an inseminator I can inseminate more cows a day than what a bull can. So it's a good time to build our national herd up. We can do it quicker than if we just had a bull - that's the advantage of AI. We can inseminate hundreds of cows a day whereas a bull you might be only to serve six."
For more information on No Bull Artificial Breeding and Training Services go to www.nobulab.com.au or call 0438 600 925.