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Ange Shares Life as an Artificial Insemination Technician

PUBLISHED Tue, 18 May 2021

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Ange Wilson has spent almost 20 years with her arm somewhere she jokes her former ‘office girl’ self could never have imagined - but the artificial insemination technician wouldn’t have it any other way.

The overalls are a far cry from the business attire she used to sport and the hours certainly aren’t 9-5, but striking out on her own and starting Southern Land Bovine Services two years ago has paid off for the Pomborneit, Victoria resident.

Her alarm rings by 3am most days and some mornings will see her inseminate hundreds of cows. Just this week, with a team of four technicians, she managed to service 660 cows before most of us have even had our morning coffee.

It’s a delicate procedure but one that Ange has down to a fine art. After taking the semen out of the liquid nitrogen tank, it’s thawed and entered into the inseminator. Ange then inserts her left arm anally where she feels for the cervix. The inseminator goes in vaginally and is threaded through the cervix. Ange drops the semen into the uterus and then with plenty of science and a little luck, the cow will soon be in calf.

While she says you’ve got to have the utmost respect for the cows, it’s the same for the dairy farmers. Many of Ange’s farms are repeat clients who she’s formed a trusted bond with.

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“We’re service providers, so forming a relationship is the key to it,” she says.

“You do your best to get their cows in calf and the farmer trusts you to do your job to the best of your ability because they do pay a lot of money for the semen and the service, and they need to get their cows in calf so they have a calf and produce fresh milk.”

It’s more than just a job for Ange. The passion and dedication she has for the dairy industry and the artificial insemination science is something Ange is keen to pass on.

She’s started taking young people, mostly women but men are also welcome, under her wing to teach them the trade. While she’s had some fantastic apprentices, Ange says finding new talent ready to embrace the trade is a challenge for many technicians in the industry.

“We’re all getting on a bit and I’m really on the scout for some young people. If I had some young ones coming through we could train them so they could do what I’m doing and have their own farmer base,” she said.

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Ange has no shortage of knowledge to share. A few years ago VikingGenetics flew her to Denmark to take on Fertility First training in reproductive health. A proactive, rather than reactive approach, Ange studied ‘dirty cows’, a term used to describe cows with ovarian cysts, retained membranes or other issues that could affect their fertility. The training means Ange can save farmer’s time and money by avoiding what would likely have been an unsuccessful transfer.

Ange is an outspoken advocate for the seven day a week, rain, hail or shine, dairy industry. She’s a familiar, friendly face in south-west Victoria and although her skills are in high demand, she says she’ll never be too busy to give every client her all.

“I once had a boss say to me, ‘I don’t care how you drive but when you drive down a farmer’s driveway you will drive slowly and you will drive slowly out like you’ve got all the time in the world no matter how busy you are because that farmer deserves your time’ and that has always stuck with me,” Ange says.

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Thank A Farmer signing off for 2020!

Jim & I would like to wrap up this week by saying thank you to all our followers for your ongoing support and for all the amazing photos that have been sent in over what has been a weird but wonderful 2020. Your contribution to the agricultural sector does not go unnoticed and we applaud your outstanding efforts. Finally, we wish you all a safe and joyful holiday period and hope that Santa brings us a better 2021!

The Box

One for the price of two; unjoined heifers bringing the big bucks

When Robert Mackenzie’s non station mated heifers brought a jaw-dropping price of $2130, a local agent commented, "for heifers to make that sort of money you would usually expect them to be tested in calf.” Because that’s usually where the money is: heifers in calf. Nonetheless, unjoined heifers are the newest business strategy for the highly successful and historic Mackas Pastoral company who have spent the last few years making their mark on Chinese supermarket shelves.

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Alpine Abode Cooma

I have always been in love with making interiors beautiful. My first mortgage at the age of 20 was a tiny flat in a terrible location but I gave that little space everything I had. I’d trawl through gumtree listings for free or cheap furniture, buy my dinnerware plate by plate every payday and had meticulously planned out the colour and pattern of every cushion I was going to buy. There was even room to squeeze in a very trendy feature wall of sponged on velvet look paint in a dark plum/purple. It looked every inch like Monica’s apartment from Friends and I loved it.

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No gold medal in 2020 but enjoying stellar season is a silver lining

National rower Emma Fessey was expecting to stand on the podium with an Olympic gold in Tokyo this year… she’s been another casualty of a strange 2020. With the door temporarily closed on Olympic dreams this year, another one opened for Emma who’s been welcomed with open arms back to the AuctionsPlus commercial team.

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Thank A Farmer Favourites

This week we’ve decided to showcase some of our favourite photos. The quantity and quality of the photos we receive from all across Australia, has enabled us to put together a gallery of magnificent photos. It has been our pleasure over the past 5 years to showcase the pride producers have in the food and fibre they produce to a wide audience of both consumers and producers.

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Teacher to business owner in rural NSW

Emily Burton from Peggy & Twig speaks of moving west and running her pearl jewellery business on a farm in Trangie, NSW.

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Kate Greenwood: quitting my day job and building Greenwood designs

Greenwood Designs (GD) started out as a way for me to pursue a creative outlet outside of my job in finance. I would make and sell jewellery and keyrings to family and friends in my home- town of Molong. Somehow word spread and in 2014 I decided to take the plunge, quit my day job and focus on building the Greenwood Designs.

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Australia's Primary Producers #PhotoLibrary

This week’s gallery showcases a few of the friendly faces that you may come across on your travels throughout rural Australia. Personally, I have the strong belief that Aussie farmers and primary producers are some of the most genuine and down to earth people that you will ever meet. Their constant dedication to the industry and hard work is second to none, especially when faced with times of turmoil and seasonal hardship. If you are reading this, this week I set you with the task of asking someone in our industry how they first got involved in Agriculture. You’ll be amazed with the some of the stories that you’ll hear

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Speckles Park price spike!

Speckle Parks were the first beef breed developed from Saskatchewan. A Canadian composite of White Park, Shorthorn and Angus (with other breeds including Galloway, Highland and Jersey in the mix). Here, in Australia paddocks, the “appaloosa cattle” are hard to miss with their distinctive spotted sides and rear quarters. Now they’re standing out for all the right reasons at sales too.

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No Winnebagos please, there’s too much work to do

When Dawson Bradford finally hangs up the boots, there’s one thing he knows for sure - there’ll be no Winnebago, thank you very much. He doesn’t need it; by his definition he’s already been retired for more than 60 years.

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Harry and Kit, the charming homewares store in a tin shed

Lillie Holcombe talks of her young family and their charming homewares store Harry and Kit, located in a ‘tin shed’ in Queensland’s Goondiwindi.                      Even though launching a bricks and mortar homewares store located in a Queensland border town, with a newborn, just before a global pandemic hit was definitely not part of Harry and Kit’s business plan, it definitely set us up for any challenges that may be thrown our way!

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The growing of a canola crop

Jim Honner This week's photo library focuses on growing the Canola crop. Canola is an important crop in the planting relation, with an estimated 550,000 hectares sown down in NSW alone in 2020. The oil that is extracted from the seed post harvest is commonly used for cooking, and in food processing plants. As well as being used in the production of bio diesel and bio plastics. Whilst the by-products which are left over after the seeds are crushed and the oil extracted include; animal feed pet food and fertiliser.

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Yarn: Merinos of the future set sail to Bruny Island

Anderson Merinos produces a sort of triple threat flock. Between carcase productivity, soft white wool (the average micron of the Andersons' ewe flock is 18.8) and fertility (lambing percentage is over 110%) their rams sell far and wide. In fact, a sire just landed on Bruny Island.

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#MakingHay - Our favourite shots from the last five years

After spending a few days bouncing around on the tractor picking up baIes I thought it’d be fitting to dedicate this week’s photo library to ‘making hay’. Below you’ll find some of our favourite shots from the @ThankAFarmerForYourNextMeal instagram account from over the years.

The Box

Cathy Hamilton Artworks

Located on her working beef property near Cootamundra NSW, the brand "Cathy Hamilton Artworks" has blossomed since its conception. With her art studio overlooking her country garden, the 60 year old artist draws inspiration from her surroundings.

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#Harvest2020 - Check out some of the best harvest shots so far this year

With the 2020 harvest well and truly underway it is great to see the headers gradually moving south with many farmers across the country reaping the benefits of what has been an interesting year to say the least.

The Box

Yarn: Taking the long way round; a look at one young woman’s journey back into agriculture

Holly Baker’s journey into an agricultural career has taken some curious turns. The daughter of a well-known large animal vet in Gunnedah, Mark Baker, she was raised on a cattle property that has been in the family for generations. Holly found herself at the age of 20 learning Indonesian and residing in a small village in East Java.

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A farm, a family and a full time fashion label.

Annabelle Kennedy from Kennedy The Label speaks of running her fashion label on farm in Nyngan, Outback NSW.

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Australia’s Future Farmers

My fondest childhood memories are all from growing up on our family farm west of Forbes in central west New South Wales. Whether it was helping dad move a mob of sheep, weighing cattle and writing down their weights, or helping him with the irrigation (mainly by holding the torch at that stage), these were all activities that majority of Australian’s will never get to experience in their lifetime.

The Box

Yarn: Livestock routinely trucked “across Belgium” and back

Following a trend that is emerging across both cattle and sheep markets, buyers from South Australia and New South Wales drove up prices at the annual 'Back To The Wheatbelt’ sale in Western Australia this month.

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A Modern Voice From The Bush

From her kitchen table on a pecan farm in northwest New South Wales, author Annabelle Hickson has launched Galah, a new seasonal print publication focused on regional Australia and telling the stories of the modern, smart and creative people who live and thrive there.   Examining rural life in Australia from a creative perspective, Galah's mission is to tell the stories of the sophisticated, inspired and passionate people Hickson sees all around her. A modern voice from the bush.