"Artificial" breeding cows is very natural
Back in the old days, a bull could breed approximately 30 cows. That is still the case, if you only use natural service sires (in other words, let the bull breed the cows himself). We do a bit of that, but we do also use artificial insemination (AI, for short). By using AI, I can select from the best bulls in the nation--or actually, the world! The traits that I want to enhance in my cattle are what I look for in a bull to breed to the cows. If I want smaller calves, bigger yearlings and high quality carcasses, I can select a bull with those specific traits. If my herd needs to increase their milk, increase growth and decrease external fat, there is a bull for that! Through science, we are able to predict the carcass qualities and growth characteristics of calves before they are even conceived. I am able to search through pedigrees and information on thousands of bulls to mate my cowherd to. In addition, I can pick a different bull for each cow, if I want to do that! By the way, this is my daughter who has learned to AI cows along with me.
AI has done a lot to improve the quality and health of many cow herds, and directly impacts the eating quality of the steak I ate last night. My cow herd is a seedstock herd--which means that very few of my cattle are raised to be made into steak, but they are the seed for a large number of steaks. I raise the genetics that the cowboys want to match up with their cows to raise calves with the desired traits they've selected! So the decisions I make today as to who to breed my cows to will impact my bottom line for years!
Breeding cows is a family activity at our ranch. I have about 250 cows and of those, I will AI about 200 of them. I AI all our own replacement heifers--that's approximately 65. Replacement heifers are the ones that we choose to keep in our cow herd to replace old cows or cows that need to be culled for a variety of reasons. Then lastly, I AI'ed 275 crossbred heifers for sale. My husband works in town during the day, so I am on my own while the kids are in school. I have my working pens and facility set up so I can do most of the work alone, but it does take longer. So I try to wait until the kids are home from school or my husband is home from work to do the large groups of cattle.
The bottom line is, even though AI is short for "artificial insemination" it is a very natural process that greatly improves the quality of beef for many years.