Review of the Use of Artificial Insemination Services in Cattle Production in Botswana (2005 – 2010)
This paper reviewed artificial insemination (AI) services rendered at AI centres across Botswana over a five year period (2005 to 2010). The use of AI in cattle production in Botswana dates back to the mid-1960s. AI service in the country was mainly performed in beef production to improve herd quality in terms of improved growth rates. Since quality bulls were costly, the need for AI services, especially in smallholder livestock production was introduced, thus offering the smallholder farmers the opportunity to improve beef herd quality cheaply without the need to buy bulls. For the past five years, the 15 AI centres in the country together received on average 7283 cows for insemination per annum, representing 58.3% of the AI centres’ capacity of 12 500 cows. This indicated that the AI centres were most of the time under stocked and underutilized. Conception rates ranged from 41.3 to 87.8%. Sefophe and Nokaneng service centres had the highest and lowest conception rates, respectively. The participation of farmers in on-farm AI seemed to decline over time. The main constraints to AI services were lack of maintenance of fire breaks and perimeter fences due to inadequacy of funds, the inadequate supply and high cost of liquid nitrogen for transporting semen, shortage of qualified ranch managers and inadequate transport and staff accommodation among others. These present findings suggest that extension efforts should concentrate on encouraging maximum utilization of the AI services offered by the Ministry of Agriculture at subsidised prices.