April 1 2021 08:00 AM

Providing A.I. services for hobby farms has become a fun side job for me.

A lot of dairy farms contract with genetic company representatives to do their artificial insemination (A.I.) work. The rest of the farms run bulls or do the A.I. work themselves, like we do at Hillcrest Farm.

I have been to different parts of the country where you see very few farmers breeding their own cows. I have friends I went to college with who moved off to different parts of the country and become employed by an A.I. company. They not only sell semen and other products to farmers, but they also have a schedule to go to different farms throughout the week to do their breeding. Not much of that happens around here, but it is definitely neat how farms are so different in their breeding programs.

Small “hobby” farming has become a thing around here. You tend to see these types of farms with one or two cows, a couple of pigs, a few goats, and some geese running around, acting as if they were guard dogs. It’s very interesting to see one of these hobby farms in action. I know a few that produce milk, cheese, soap, and all kinds of stuff. But at the end of the day, they are not large enough where they would need to learn how to breed, and they don’t want to keep a bull for just a cow or two. This is where I step in.

Our vet usually tells the hobby farmers about the artificial insemination process, and that’s why they contact me. It a little side job that gets me off the farm and doing my thing, while seeing different farms all at the same time. I’ve seen a pasture with a Holstein cow, a huge sow, one donkey, goats, turkeys, horses, and alpacas. Once I was given a tip of handmade soap, a very well-made soap that was home manufactured.

My advice is if you have a little time and know how to breed, get out of the normal circle of things and visit other farms, especially hobby farms, and offer your A.I. services. These businesses are so neat and different. They may not look at efficiency the same way we do, but I’ve learned different things from them as well that I could use on my farm!

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.