SDSU Extension hosts cattle AI day camp at Cottonwood Field Station

Twenty 4-H youth participated in the SDSU Extension Cattle AI Day Camp held at the SDSU Cottonwood Field Station on Nov. 6.

Brookings, S.D. — Twenty 4-H youth involved in the beef project area traveled to the Cottonwood Field Station to participate in the South Dakota State University Extension Cattle AI Day Camp held Nov. 6.

During the day camp, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialists Olivia Amundson, Kiernan Brandt and Adele Harty, along with 4-H Youth Program Advisors Audra Scheel and Kaycee Jones, guided youth through the process of artificial insemination in beef cattle.

“Understanding how the female and male beef reproductive tracts work is critical to a successful AI program,” says Scheel, who serves as a 4-H Youth Program Advisor for Sanborn, Aurora, Jerauld and Buffalo counties.

“I learned the different stages of follicular development and the hormones that happen,” says attendee Autumn Skow.

Kiernan Brandt, SDSU Extension cow/calf specialist, instructs 4-H member Molly Harty on finding the reproductive tract during palpitation.

Once they learned the basics, youth received hands-on practice in pulling, thawing and loading semen. Harty and Scheel led this station.

“This is a critical part of AI; you can have the best technician in the world inside the cow, but if the semen isn’t handled correctly outside the cow, your conception rates will show it,” Harty says.

Youth were also able to work with real, female beef cow reproductive tracts, led by Brandt. Hands-on experience with ultrasound, vaccinations and palpation, along with education on the importance of nutrition and using body condition score to determine the cow’s nutritional needs, completed the breakout sessions.

“At camp, we provided youth with knowledge and hands-on techniques of AI, but then followed that up with how to AI a real cow,” says Amundson. “This allows youth to see how successful AI is in a real-life scenario. It really brings the day full-circle for the kids.”

Olivia Amundson, SDSU Extension cow/calf specialist, teaches youth about ultrasound, as they observe a 100-day gestational age calf on the screen.

SDSU Extension's 4-H Youth Development Program is a partnership of federal (U.S. Department of Agriculture), state (Land Grant University), and county resources through youth outreach activities of SDSU Extension. Youth learn and experience leadership, workforce development, life and social connection through a network of professional staff and volunteers reaching more than 9,000 enrolled members with yearly programming efforts to an additional 35,000 youth participants.

To learn more, contact your local SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program Advisor. A complete listing can be found at